Practical Life in Kingston

Transport in Kingston

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Transportation in Jamaica is provided through driving, taxi, private or public passenger buses, domestic airline service and chartered helicopter service. Public passenger vehicles carry a red-and-white license plate starting with a number 'PP'. Private vehicles and trucks use blue and green plate, respectively, and government vehicles use yellow-and-black.

Driving in Jamaica

Note that vehicles drive on the left. At the round-about, the vehicle on the left must yield.

Taxis in Jamaica

In Jamaica there is a distinction between taxis. There is the route taxi, i.e., a carrier with 10 or less passengers who pay fares separately and who may enter or leave at different points along a designated route. And there is hackney carriage, more commonly referred to as a taxi, which carries passengers travelling together (up to a maximum of three) to their destination using the route of their choice.

Note that only the red plate taxi is licensed to transport passengers for pay.

Taxi fares

Route taxi has a fare structure but hackney carriage (chartered taxi) is more or less open to discretion or based on market trend. The rates for routes taxis can be viewed online. Rates are not so streamlined for charter taxi. For e.g., some charter taxi charge JMD$3,000 from downtown Kingston to the airport. But the charge may double between two or more random taxis for the same trip. An unofficial base rate for the charter is JM$500.


Car rentals are available from the major airport in Kingston and Montego Bay. The major brands for car rentals available include Island, Avis and Budget; between all these providers a large fleet of cars inclusive of all sizes and many makes are available. You can view these and other providers online and initiate bookings. The providers have daily and weekly rates that vary with services (e.g. babyseat, full to full etc.).

The estimated base rate for a one day rental is USD$65. You can use independent online trip planners to sort and book options for car rentals in Jamaica.

Buses in Jamaica

Public passenger vehicles are available on a regional and national basis. JUTC, a government bus service, serves the KMA and Montego Bay. View listing of bus routes in Kingston or call the JUTC customer service line for information, 1-888-991-6684.

There is a transport centre in most large towns where route taxis and buses terminate from various routes. This bus park brings together commuters within and across parishes. The 'bus park' in Half Way Tree is perhaps the grandest of them all, bringing together 63 bus routes, a capacity for 580 buses per hour and 200,000 passengers per day. During the weekdays before and after school, crowds of school children use the centre in transit to and from school.

Outside the cities, there are various industry associations of transport service providers that the public rely on. Some operate inside the city as a JUTC franchisee. Whereas the JUTC uses large busses - some of which allow for wheel chair access, public passenger vehicles outside the city are smaller in size.

The JUTC is establishing a cashless system for commuters to pay for rides. Private bus companies have luxury service between major destinations across the country that are convenient for business travel or events.

Note that only the red plate buses are licensed to transport passengers for pay.

Bus fares

The public bus regular fares have a base rate of JMD$100 for adults and the tariff schedule can be viewed online. When travelling by bus in KMA or Montego Bay, get the JUTC smartcard - a convenient cashless way to pay your fare using a reusable card which can be recharged for additional rides when the value is used. In case of loss or theft JUTC will "hotlist" (disable) the card and issue a replacement. Smart Cards can be purchased at designated outlets at a cost of $250 (Adults); $150 (Children/Pensioners) which includes a $50.00 security deposit. Once the value is used up commuters can have the card recharged for a minimum of $100.00 at any Smart Card outlet

Flights in Jamaica

The domestic airline and helicopter services operate using aerodromes in Tinson Pen (Kingston), Port Antonio, Bascobel (near Ocho Rios) and Negril. At least three domestic airline and two helicopter services are registered with the Jamaica Civil Aviation Authority.

These aerodromes are connected to the major airports - the Norman Manley International Airport (KIN) in Kingston that handles 70% of Jamaica's airfreight; and the Sangster International Airport (MBJ) in Montego Bay that is the leading tourism gateway for Jamaica. Travel options on the ground to/ from the airport depend on where you are landing.

  • Private buses and taxis are on standby or call for commuting to/ from the aerodromes and major airports. In addition, public bus routes connect downtown Kingston and downtown Montego Bay with the KIN and MBJ, respectively.
  • Private buses and taxis do charter service starting in Montego Bay, Negril or Port Antonio to Kingston via Ocho Rios and return.
  • The travel to the Norman Manley airport from downtown Kingston is about 45 minutes by car and costs about JMD$3,500 in 2015. The time is a bit longer by public bus.
  • On the public bus, the fare from downtown Kingston or Montego Bay to the airport in the parish is under JMD$300.
  • Allow for about three hours on the charter bus between Montego Bay and Kingston with stops in Falmouth and Ocho Rios. It is about half that time direct by taxi and cost upwards of JMD$7,000.

Car rentals are available in Kingston and Montego Bay from the major airports. The providers have daily and weekly rates, and varies with services (e.g. with babyseat etc.).

Update 13/02/2016


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