Government releases public transport report, but what about the bigger picture?

Government releases public transport report, but what about the bigger picture?

In September 2022, Deloitte was engaged by the Ministry to perform an assessment of a public transport strategy specifically as it relates to the public bus system.  Deloitte completed the project between October 2022 and April 2023. 

 The report, “An Assessment of a Public Transport Strategy – Final Report” can be found here: https://www.gov.ky/publication-detail/assessment-of-a-public-transport-strategy—final-report

The 154-page recommends a major overhaul of the public transport system which includes government investment of more than 25 million dollars.  It envisions a transition away from the present privately owned system, towards a new system that is substantially owned and run by the government, with fleets of new electric buses and new bus depots built on government land. Large ‘express’ style buses would take passengers between bus depots based in each district, while smaller buses would be used to shuttle passengers to and from each of these hubs to their destinations.

The aim of the proposed changes, the report said, would be so that the public transport system would become attractive enough to lure people away from their cars. Changes would include nicer bus stops which are protected by security cameras and set back from the road, and busses equipped with Wi-Fi, with plenty of space for personal belongings, and which are accessible to disabled people, and automatic payment systems. Buses would run on time, and into the evening, accommodating shift workers who are presently stuck without buses during the night and early morning.

According to the report, Part of Cayman’s traffic problem is caused by migrant workers who need to get to work but are unable to rely on public transport that either doesn’t operate into the evenings or at night, or doesn’t take them to their destination, forcing them to buy up cheap vehicles and add to Cayman’s traffic congestion. Deloitte envisaged that a new improved transport system would be able to attract over a thousand people, reducing cars by up to a fifth.

The significance of Deloitte’s findings is limited by the report’s terms of reference. While change is urgently needed in Cayman’s public transport system, public transport is only one part of the much bigger picture. Several Commerce Matters articles have already described the feedback about transportation in all its forms that the Chamber has received from its members in surveys and through discussions, and the upcoming Economic Forum in February is sure to make Cayman’s transportation system a topic of discussion, too. What is really needed is a comprehensive national transportation plan which can address the overall dynamic of change as it affects each sector, and subsequent sector-to-sector relationships.  Plan Cayman has been working on such a plan, found here: https://www.plancayman.ky/topics-transport/

Further work clearly needs to be done, both in planning, and in practical steps that need to be taken to accommodate Cayman’s rapidly growing population and transport needs. A Recent report, ‘Infrastructure Spotlight,’ from KPMG cites a 14% population increase between 2021 and suggests a figure of 1.2 billion in government expenditure on infrastructure at all levels to complete the projects outlined in its Strategic Policy Statement for 2024-2026. The report includes a summary of all major projects proposed by the Cayman Islands government, and can be found online here: https://assets.kpmg.com/content/dam/kpmg/ky/pdf/2023/Infrastructure_spotlight_thought_leadership.pdf

“The Cayman Islands is considering the long-term master-planning of its airports, port and public transportation system, whilst currently undergoing an overhaul of its public schools and further education facilities. The jurisdiction is also focused on cleaning up its waste management system, increasing its affordable housing provision, and expanding its se of renewables,” the report states.

The report’s broad sweep of infrastructural projects includes the new cargo port development which aims to expand or relocate the cargo port, which is expected to reach capacity within the next decade, with a $73 million cost. ReGen and a new submarine cable are both named in the report, along with completion of the East-West arterial expansion that will connect George Town with North Side. There will also be substantial improvements to the Sunrise Adult Training facility as well as a new prison facility which consolidates the inmate groups.  

The report recommends public-private partnerships such as Regen as a way forward for financing many of the infrastructural projects it names. “PPPs can be particularly effective in leveraging private sector investment to finance infrastructure projects while appropriately sharing risks and rewards between the public and private sectors,” the report says.

Public and private transportation, infrastructure, and ways of sustainably accommodating Cayman’s growth, will be at the heart of the Chamber’s annual Economic Forum.

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