|Planning for the New transportation
Published Thursday 6th November, 2008
Taking a long-term
view of the government’s transportation proposals, it is clear that we
need to carefully plan these. The new network must be economic,
effective and give our country a higher level of transportation
What should be the
planning imperatives of the new network? How will the various parts of
the new system be integrated for ease of use and flexibility for the
This is a major
national investment and therefore the answers to those questions will be
of concern to all. That would even include those who do not use the new
systems, since we will all be paying for them.
The main points would
1. The P3 Model for
We have been told
that rapid rail is the most expensive single project ever undertaken in
this country. We are also told that it is a feasible project and it has
now been announced that the contract was signed on April 11, to build
the new system.
That system is now
being designed and built for start of service in the next five years.
The Nidco advertisements state that the basis of the contract is “…a
We do not have the
details, but it seems that the government is to pay the contractors for
the project upon its completion as part of this public/private
There are other
approaches within the P3 model which can be used to partner with the
private sector to provide public facilities. One of those models, used
when the facility is one for which the public can and will pay, is that
of granting a concession.
Under that type of
arrangement, the private sector partner would design the system in
collaboration with the government and pay for the lands to be used by
the trains and its stations. The private sector partner borrows the
money to build the system, which they then operate under a concession
from the State, using only the fares paid by passengers to recover their
The advantages of
this arrangement are several since the onus would be on the private
sector partner to be economic in the design, construction and operation
of the system and, of course, to set fares which would be competitive
and allow for proper maintenance of the equipment.
Is the contract
signed by Nidco one which grants a concession? If not, why not? Are we
contemplating an arrangement within which our private sector partner has
no real, financial incentive to offer a first-rate and well-maintained
option to the travelling public?
“If the Rapid Rail is
indeed feasible, why did we not grant the private partners a
2. The rapid rail
information we have on the rapid rail stations is set out in the
diagram. It is unclear whether the location of the stations is part of
the design process taking place at the moment. It seems, when one
considers the numbers of commuters, that it is necessary to have
stations at UWI and Wallerfield, which is the site of the new UTT
3. The maxi-taxi
One can only wonder
what these important stakeholders think of all this. We can be sure that
their place in the transportation network will shift fundamentally when
these new systems come into operation. It is also certain that the
public will still have to rely on them for transport in some important
The question of how
the maxi and taxi drivers fit into the new network is a critical one
which can only be resolved with their willing participation.
It is clear that
there is much planning to be done if we are to make sense of all this
and, once again, one is awaiting the position of the Ministry of
Planning, Housing and the Environment.
Where will the water
Phase 1 of this new
system is due to start in December 2008, with service between
Port-of-Spain and San Fernando. According to the Minister of Finance, in
the 2009 Budget speech: “The physical infrastructure for the temporary
onshore and offshore terminal facilities at San Fernando, including car
parking, passenger waiting area and berthing facilities is virtually
“Phase 2 of this
service will involve an expansion of the service to docking areas in
Clifton Hill in Point Fortin, Waterloo/Orange Valley in Chaguanas,
Invaders Bay, Point Cumana and Chaguaramas in the Western Peninsula.”
The new hubs
A critical aspect of
the new network is the way in which the various parts of the system will
operate together. The most careful consideration would be needed here to
ensure that we make best use of our limited land. We need to plan so
that we do not unintentionally add to the levels of congestion and
uncertainty which beset us today.
That planning must
involve real consultation with the stakeholders. These would include the
travelling public, workers in the transportation system, employers and,
of course, maxi and taxi drivers.
Some extracts from
the 2009 budget speech will illustrate some further issues:
“The PTSC will also
establish park and ride facilities in Arima, San Fernando, Rio Claro and
Point Fortin to encourage more car owners to use public transport.”
That is a goal we
support entirely but to what extent are those PTSC park and ride
facilities to be integrated with the rapid rail and coastal water taxi
systems? For example, are we considering an Arima transport hub which
combines park and ride, maxis, taxis and rapid rail? In the case of San
Fernando, are we designing a hub which integrates those services listed
for the Arima hub together with the coastal water taxi?
“In addition, the
PTSC compound at South Quay in Port-of-Spain will be totally
reconstructed to provide a more modern and efficient environment for the
Again, the same issue
as per San Fernando, made more pointed by the proximity of the Tobago
Ferry Terminal and the main east-west artery of Wrightson Road.
According to the
Nidco advertisements, all of this is taking place “…As part of a
holistic plan to ease traffic congestion and create a more modern,
efficient transportation network.”
Just two examples of
the questions will suffice.
Is the Invaders Bay
water taxi station to be integrated with the rapid rail’s stadium
The Point Cumana
water taxi station is quite close to the Rapid Rail’s Westmall station,
can these not be integrated?
“holistic plan” include PTSC?
Afra Raymond is a chartered surveyor and a director of Raymond & Pierre
Ltd. Feedback can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.