Commentary Jamaica Magazine

Jamaicans need to carpool to ease gas burden

Relatively speaking, the time has now come for better dialogue in regards to modes of transportation and travel patterns, in Jamaica. The formidable task to encourage transportation behavioral patterns is emerging. We need to educate our people on the various behavioral patterns of different group of road users, and pedestrians. We need to remind our citizens of the benefits of walking and leaving the cars at home. Quite a few people walk, but only because they do not have the means or access to an automobile, we now have to encourage other motorist to get out of their vehicles and walk more. Most motorist walk, I must admit, but only from their houses to their vehicles and so forth. However, with the current cost of gas internationally, we need to make some lifestyle changes and adjust accordingly. I mentioned this to a fellow Jamaican, and I told him that we needed to start looking at ridesharing and so forth. According to him, Jamaicans were different; they want to go when they want to, not sit around and wait for any one, but are Jamaicans really different? No we are not.

We have to buy gasoline just like the other person in the developed world. This kind of mindset is the first thing that needs to be changed. We are now forced as citizens to revamp and take a good long look at how we currently travel in Jamaica. We need to go back to our basic modes of travel; the donkeys, walking, bicycle, carpooling /vanpooling and basic pedestrian travel and so forth. Carpooling/vanpooling is where two or more people share a ride in a private motor vehicle on a continuing basis. One person can be the designated driver and drive all the time, and the passengers contribute to the gas or everyone can alternate driving, and not exchange any money. I understand that it is challenging to encourage carpooling or vanpooling in Jamaica, because many people may be scared to share rides with others, because of our current issues with crime. However, we have to think realistically and plan strategically, just to have a little money in our pockets. There are so many people that live and work within short distances from each other, and I am not talking about strangers. These are acquaintances, family members coworkers and so forth. These people know each other, and what do we do?

Every morning, we all get in our cars and we drive alone to our various locations. In my opinion, I think that we need to get that designated driver and car or vanpool with our acquaintances, to our various locations. This will in itself help to reduce congestion on the roads, it will help to relieve stress, because you have another person that you can talk to, most importantly, it will reduce emissions hence resulting cleaner air quality. This will also help in regards to sustainability. It us our responsibility to sustain what we have so that we can still have a nation for future generations. Overall, the economic impact will be great, because instead of one person filling up his or her gas tank, the cars will be alternated, if each person has a car. There have been calls for citizens to see the big picture and start producing more, but we need to take it a step further, and look at not just the big picture, but the broader picture as it pertains to our modes of travel and travel patterns in Jamaica. If we change our travel modes, or adjust our patterns accordingly, it will help our country environmentally and economically and we the citizens will have more money to spend, cleaner air quality and we will have a healthier and happier society.

About the author

Sherry Southe