Transportation in Jamaica | Taxis, Car Rental, Air Travel
When traveling to Jamaica it is essential that you familiarize yourself with our transportation system. It is important that you know all options available to you, so that you can choose wisely, and make the most out of your trip. Below you will find tips and guidelines that are important to know whether you plan to drive in Jamaica or you will be driven by someone else.
Ground and air transportation is readily available on the island. Visitors are able to choose between rental cars, limousines, luxury coaches, taxis and even air shuttle . You also have the choice of public or private transportation. Private transportation companies provide a range of services including customized tours. Public transportation on the other hand, is often the most affordable way of getting around in Jamaica.
Possible Road Hazards
- Stray Animals
- Broken Glass
- Falling Stones from trucks
- Land slippage/Mud slide
- Loose gravel
Renting a car in Jamaica can be very easy, since there are car rental companies at your fingertips. It is essential, that you know the road codes and where you are going. You could easily stop by the nearest bookstore and get yourself a Jamaican Road Code handbook and quickly get a road map from the nearest Jamaica Tourist Board office. Tourists can rent cars in most major towns and cities, and usually you have to be 25 years or older to be able to rent a car. Drivers are also required to post a bond with cash, major credit card or traveler’s cheques to meet insurance regulations. Remember that Jamaicans drive on the left, drivers and passengers are required to wear seat belts, and children under three years old must travel in infant carriers.
Registered Car Rentals Locations
The monitoring organization in Jamaica which promotes professionalism of the tourism product is the JHTA (Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association). All members of the JHTA has to adhere to certain guidelines aimed at sustaining the development of the Jamaica’s tourism industry. The following is a list of car rentals who are registered members of the JHTA:
- Budget Car Rentals (Kingston)
- Challenger Transport Ltd. (Kingston)
- Fiesta Car Rentals (Kingston)
- Galaxy Leisure & Tours (Kingston)
- Hemisphere Car Rentals (Mandeville)
- Hertz/Liberty Car Rentals (Montego Bay)
- Jamaica Rent-A-Car Association Ltd (Kingston)
- Sunsational Car Rental & Tours Ltd. (Montego Bay)
Please note that there are other reputable car rental companies in Jamaica who have been operating for years but may not be registered.
Using taxis as a mode of transportation is one of the most convenient ways to travel inJamaica. Even though using taxis isn’t necessarily the cheapest, most public taxis are quite reliable. In Jamaica it is a requirement of the law that all taxis must be registered with a vehicle bearing a PP (Public Passenger) red license plate. There are two types of taxis in Jamaica, the private tour taxis and the public taxis. The private tour taxis mostly operate at airports and hotels. These taxis are usually more expensive than public taxis and are usually operate charters. Also, they often provide a more comfortable and slower drive which is accompanied by air conditioning. On the other hand, the public taxis are used by most Jamaicans and are faster and more economical. They are referred to as “route taxis”. this means that they operate in specific routes and can pick up several passengers who are traveling on the same route. Most of the time, if you are the only passenger in a public taxi, you may be charged a “chartered taxi” fee, which is can be expensive. Taxis usually operate in legal routes, this legal route is often displayed somewhere on the vehicle. The taxi drivers often wear a light blue shirt and sometimes even have identification. With all this mentioned, you should ensure that you are taking a legally operating taxi, and not a regular “white license plate” car operating illegally as a “robot taxi”. When taking taxis it is always best to negotiate and discuss the cost or fare based on your destination before boarding the vehicle. You should know that taxi drivers may overcharge if they realize that you are a tourist.
Using buses to get around is one of the cheapest means. Public buses can be quite a hassle and inconvenience for a tourist. If you are in Kingston City you can make use of the metropolitan sophisticated bus system (Jamaica Urban Transit Company) which operates similar to bus systems in first world countries. If you choose the bus option outside of Kingston you may be in for a surprise if you are not adventurous. The bus system outside of Kingston can be quite confusing if you are not from Jamaica or accompanied by a Jamaican. These buses usually make several stops before reaching a particular destination, picking up or dropping off passengers. Each stop may result in a total rearranging of already seated passengers.
Registered Private Tour Taxis/Buses
The following is a list of some private tour operators who are registered with the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA):
- Island Routes (Montego Bay)
- Jamaica Union of Travelers Association (JUTA) (Ocho Rios, Montego Bay, Negril, Kingston)
- Jamaica Tours (Montego Bay)
- Knutsford Express Services Ltd. (Kingston, Montego Bay, Ocho Rios)
- Tropical Tours (Montego Bay)
- Holiday Services (Ocho Rios)
- Tourwise Ltd. (Ocho Rios)
There are air shuttle services available in Jamaica. These are Jamaica Air Shuttle – (876) 906-9026-9, International Air Link- (876) 940-6660 and Tim Air -(876) 952-2516 . Jamaica Air Shuttle is known to provide reliable, efficient, safe, cost effective, and customer driven aviation services. Jamaica Air Shuttle will carry passengers between Montego Bay and Kingston and vice versa to connect to or from International flights. They also do charter flights from Sangster’s International Airport in Montego Bay to other airports. International Air Link operates between Montego Bay and Negril, while TimAir operates on a charter basis. You may contact respective offices for further details. Passengers paying for travel using a credit card at our airport locations, must present the credit card with a valid form of government/state issued identification. Also, passengers must be able to sit comfortably in the passenger seat with the seat belt fastened. Passengers who fail to meet these requirements will not be admitted on board air shuttle units.
Top 10 Jamaican Driving Safety Tips:
- If you notice that another car is following you, do not drive to your place of accommodation. Instead, drive to the nearest police station or service station with you horn blaring.
- Never place your valuables on car seats. You may keep things on the floor or in the trunk. Or better yet, take valuables with you when you leave the car.
- If you are stopped at a traffic light and someone tries to enter your car, keep honking your horn. If it is safe to do this, go through the red light.
- Always check the seats of your vehicle before you enter.
- Never leave the key in the ignition, nor leave your vehicle unlocked. Statistics reveal that 80% of stolen cars were left unlocked and 42% had the key in the ignition.
- Never hide an extra key anywhere in your car, most thieves are familiar with car hiding places.
- Be careful when assisting strangers whether it is day or night.
- Never pick up hitchhikers and never be a hitchhiker.
- Check your gas gauge and tires before you start your journey.
- Even if you are right, in case of an accident contact the police. Call 119 for Police emergency.