Transport Authority to unveil ‘Travel Pal’ mobile app in the new year

Transport Minister Robert Montague (right), is assisted by Founder and Chief Executive Officer of the Amber Group, Dushyant Savadia, in navigating the recently developed ‘Drive Safe’ mobile application (app), during the facility’s launch at the Ministry’s offices in Kingston on Tuesday (December 17). (Photo: Dave Reid, JIS)

Come January 2020, the Transport Authority (TA) will be launching the ‘Travel Pal’ application (app), which will enable commuters to use their mobile devices to scan the registration plates of units used as public passenger vehicles (PPV), to verify if they are licensed by the agency.

Transport and Mining Minister Robert Montague announcing the upcoming tech during Tuesday’s (Dec 17) launch of the ‘Drive Safe’ app at the ministry’s offices on Maxfield Avenue in Kingston.

Montague said Travel Pal will also allow users to share information on their location with family and friends, when using a PPV, “so that if anything happens to you, we can track the vehicle”.

The minister advised that the app will have a panic feature, linked to the police 119 system, “[so that] if you are in the vehicle and something happens, you can hit the button and the police will know exactly where you are”.

Additionally, commuters will be able to rate operators’ service or file a complaint if dissatisfied.

Montague further asserted that the app is a security mechanism that “gives commuters the tools to make their journeys safer”, adding that “we are empowering [persons] to make wiser decisions in selecting licensed public transportation”.

The initiative forms part of the ministry’s 16-point plan; geared at reforming Jamaica’s public transportation system.

Montague pointed out that one of the key strategies in the plan is the introduction of digital training, monitoring and enforcement mechanisms geared at formalising the PPV sector.

Empowering commuters by giving them greater access to PPV-related information and reporting tools, as well as enhancing the Transport Authority’s intelligence capabilities for undertaking targeted road-monitoring interventions also fall in line with the ministry’s transformative mandate.

Other measures aimed at enhancing safety on the roadways, which he said are being pursued, include the procurement of driving simulators for placement at motor vehicle examination depots island-wide.

In the meantime, the authority has already approved the purchase of some of the simulators, noting that their introduction is aimed at improving the competence of learner drivers.

“I will be placing one simulator in every motor vehicle examination depot in this country in short order, so that you will now have to do a road code test. You must know the road code before you get your learners licence,” Montague emphasised.

He also indicated that the ministry is exploring the possibility of digitising the written test for licence applications.