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Plan to introduce metered parking and remove jitneys from downtown

plan to introduce metered parking and remove the transit of jitneys on Bay Street and Shirley Street has been formulated to reduce traffic and improve commerce in the city center, however Managing Director of the Downtown Nassau Partnership (DNP) Ed Fields said yesterday that funding remains its final hurdle.

Addressing traffic congestion and parking is a part of the overall plan to redevelop Downtown Nassau, which has been a goal of the most recent administrations.

“Right now here’s the problem, people say that there is too much taxi parking downtown. Absolutely incorrect. On Bay Street between Navy Lion Road and East Street there are roughly 78 or so parking spots, of which taxis take up 30,” Fields said in an interview with Guardian Business.

“Now you may say that’s a lot, but actually if you look at all of the parking downtown, that is Parliament Street, Charlotte Street, Frederick Street, George Street and streets beyond Elizabeth Avenue, those are all private vehicles that belong to employees. Employees come in in the morning, they park their cars and that’s where they stay the whole day, for free. That does not enable turnover for customers to come and shop.

“So, we then have to find a way to put those people in another area that’s free to them and that would loosen those spaces and then we can meter downtown. Hopefully the metering of downtown, plus the advertising we do with the transit system, would pay for or greatly subsidize the transit system.”

The hope, according to Fields, is to implement a “three-loop” public transportation system that would result in jitneys not coming downtown, but stopping at three spots; one in the west, at Western Esplanade; one in the east around the area of Commonwealth Bank on Bay Street, and one in the south around Market Street and the Southern Recreation Grounds area.

He said the jitneys would stop at those areas and free shuttles would pick up people to take them downtown.

“Well let’s just say in the first instance they would certainly be free or there might be a transfer system with the buses. There would also be in those areas a park and ride scenario,” he said.

“People who come downtown can now use parking on a meter. That then alleviates a huge amount of traffic you see on George Street, Frederick Street and in the front of Government Publications, that would no longer be there.

“The shuttles would be stop and go, whoever is at the shuttle stop gets picked up, whoever wants to get off gets off. Essentially on Bay Street from the Hilton to East Street there would be jitneys on Shirley Street or Bay Street, they would only be crossing certain points to get back to their routes.”

A major component of improving traffic flow in the city center, according to Fields, requires working closely with the Ministry of Public Works.

He said there is already a plan to change the flow of traffic just east of Nassau Street,

“There’s going to be a light at the junction where The Pointe parking lot is, which will be synchronized with the Nassau Street light. It means then that the side corners, Augusta Street, Dorchester and Pitt Road will be going south only,” he said.

“We’ve already put in a gate at Western Esplanade between Monday and Friday so that people don’t shortcut, and as a result traffic flow is already 100 times better. The plans have already been produced, it’s just a matter of implementation, money, funding, all that kind of thing.”

He continued, “Where we are with the transit system is there are some intricacies that we have to work out, so that we know we have the locations sorted out and we have one more step and that is the actual costing of it,” he said.

“But there are some things that have to be sorted out, especially with the Market Street depot area to make sure that is going to work in tandem with the government’s plan for a multipurpose government complex. We believe that it can still work in tandem with it, but we’ll have to meet with whomever is doing that complex to see how that fits in.”

Paige McCartney

Business Reporter at The Nassau Guardian
Paige joined The Nassau Guardian in 2010 as a television news reporter and anchor. She has covered countless political and social events that have impacted the lives of Bahamians and changed the trajectory of The Bahamas.
Paige started working as a business reporter in August 2016.
Education: Palm Beach Atlantic University in 2006 with a BA in Radio and Television News

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