My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: PAMS to debut GOJ branded Food Court in Half-Way-Tree Transport Center - Making revenue from Unruly smartphone toting High School students via Cooked Food and JA$100 a week Wi-Fi Internet

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

PAMS to debut GOJ branded Food Court in Half-Way-Tree Transport Center - Making revenue from Unruly smartphone toting High School students via Cooked Food and JA$100 a week Wi-Fi Internet

“We have had several reports of students being mistreated by police officers at the transport centre and, while I know that they are working under stressful conditions, we still have to make sure that the rights of our students are respected. If you are going to address a 16-year-old, saying 'Eh, bwoi, weh u a go?', a child that age is going to react, and that is where the problem comes in, and these are the kinds of complaints we have been receiving.”

Representative from the OCA (Office of the Children's Advocate) in an interview with The Gleaner following a stakeholders' meeting hosted by the NPTAJ (National Parent-Teacher Association of Jamaica) on Tuesday October 22nd 2013

Look like Food is back on the menu for PAMS (Port Authority Management Services Limited), the company that manages the “White Elephant” known as the Half-Way-Tree Transport Center as stated in the article “HWT Transport Centre Operators Take Second Look At Food”, Published Thursday October 24, 2013 by Daraine Luton, Senior Staff Reporter, The Jamaica Gleaner

PAMS says that the Half-Way-Tree Transport Center, which was built back in 2008, is losing money. Curiously, its original purpose was to make money via the leasing of shops to interested parties, for which a tender process was conducted back then but to no avail. Now after five (5) years of straight losses they’re going back to the same idea.

Their rap sheet of losses as read in their 2013 Annual Report tabled in the House of Representatives on Tuesday October 22nd 2013 is best summarized for the Fiscal year 2012-2013 ending on Sunday March 31st 2013 as follows:

1.      JA$55.48 million income
2.      JA$70.10 million expenditure
3.      JA$14.6 million Net loss
4.      JA$105 million in liabilities in excess of total assets

In terms of spaces to lease or rent for setting up this Food Court, PAMS has the following to consider:

1.      19 commercial spaces leased
2.      2 commercial spaces unrented, the largest within the Transport Center

Back then as well, the Half-Way-Tree Transport Center also had the problem of schoolchildren loitering at the Transport Center as noted in “No more loitering in Transport Centre”, published Friday March 14, 2008 by Athaliah Reynolds, Staff Reporter, The Jamaica Gleaner.

However, the majority of losses are not due to the schoolchildren loitering at the Half-Way-Tree Transport Center who hang around, make out (French Kissing) and have sex in the bathrooms (set good like ice inna freeza, vybz Kartel style!), as they’ve been doing that since 2008…and not just in Kingston.

High School Students are bad but innocent – Scapegoats for the PAMS mismanagement

It appears that the High Scholars are being made into scapegoats for the ills of the Transport Center and consequently being harassed by members of the Jamaican Constabulary Force aka the Jamaican Police as noted in the article “HWT Transport Centre Operators Take Second Look At Food”, Published Thursday October 24, 2013, by Daraine Luton, Senior Staff Reporter, The Jamaica Gleaner

To quote PAMS from their presentation of their 2013 Annual Report tabled in the House of Representatives on Tuesday October 22nd 2013, they admitted to major disturbances in the Transport Center, merely citing that the High School Children weren’t behaving like children should, quote: “However, students continue to be a challenge to the security forces and the contracted security. Indiscipline displayed by students in the centre, although improved over the five years of operation, is still at a level that is unacceptable”.

Rather it’s the glaring lack of stores and shops within the Transport Center to make money from the commuter traffic through the Transport Center. A visit to the Transport Center reveals to the casual visitor that the upper deck of this ship themed Transport Center is bare of eateries and stores.

There’s only the Donut shop, a Digicel Store and a Juici Beef Patti Stand. Also, there are no advertising billboards within the Transport Center. Very unusual, considering the amount of foot-traffic generated by people not only just passing through the Transport Center but also waiting for hours on their Buses to carry them to their destination.

The only advertising in any significant way is on the JUTC Buses themselves and even those are few and far and inbetween. Worse, they’re static advertisements plastered on the sides of the Buses that can only be changed by the advertising company that installed them.

PAMS Revisits Food Court Idea – Government Patty Shop for Ministry of Agriculture

Apparently PAMS plans to not only start a Food Court but they may run it themselves. In keeping with the usual nepotism that has come to expect from the PNP (People’s National Party) led administration, they’ll probably tender a contract for the 2 largest spaces to a canteen concessionaire.

That canteen Concessionaire will then serve up some cooked Food, the only kind of Food NOT being served by any of the nearby Fast Food outlets within Half-Way-Tree as well as any of the shops within the Half-Way-Tree Transport Center.

Most likely, fruits and Vegetables that Farmers can’t export or sell due to mishandling or inconsistent size may wind up in the Government Run Patty Shop. These are the same kind of fruits and vegetables currently being used in the school feeding programmed as stated in my blog article entitled “Ministry of Agriculture to approve Fruit and Liquified Eggs for School Feeding Program even as Pork faces Glut - How Solar Farming will make Jamaica's Food Security Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2”.

Curious plan by the PAMS, as they could have done this a long time ago! After all, no Fast Food eatery or any other Business would set up a full blown operation within a Transport Center in these larger commercial spaces unless they could guarantee that the foot traffic and turnover from that traffic mean enough revenue to make the rental of such a large space profitable and worthwhile. 

Even in New Kingston, which has decent foot Traffic thanks to the many workers and commuters doing Business within the Commercial district, has an awful lot of Buildings and Stores in the New Kingston Shopping Center as well as the High-rise building that are just simply empty.

People are walking but they’re not really spending, merely going about their Business as they haven’t the money to spend. And unless your Business has a product that has a high demand that requires little in the way of advertising, it’ll languish within the Transport Center as people merely come there to take the JUTC Bus and go home.

But eateries do fairly well. If PAMS uses the empty spaces to make a Food Court, they’ll not only generate revenue but it’ll also create a eating space that encourages commuters to stop and eat Jamaican, as most likely the raw ingredients will be procured directly from Farmers affiliated and earmarked as suppliers to the Ministry of Agriculture’s School Feeding Program.

PAMS and Advertising – Video Adverts and a perfect testbed for Apple’s iBeacon

In fact that also presents an opportunity to make revenue as well from Adverting both from Video Advertisements as well as from Wi-Fi Services installed within the Transport Center. The video advertisements can be placed at the seats where the commuters sit or stand and wait for their Buses.

For those that are more tech, savvy, PAMS can also contract Dekal Wireless to install WiFi Routers in the area to provide Wi-Fi Internet. The Wi-Fi access cards could be sold at Transport Center’s Ticket booth when students purchase Route Tickets to make sure commuters can access the Wi-Fi but not abuse the access.

These Wi-Fi Access Cards can also be used with Dekal Wireless Municipal Wi-Fi Network elsewhere. However onboard the JUTC Bus it’s another matter. Telecom Provider LIME and Telecom Provider Digicel could coordinate to install Solar Powered MiFi to provide Wi-Fi for a fee of JA$100 per week on the JUTC (Jamaica Urban Transit Company) Buses as explained in my blog article entitled “Unruly High School Students Making out and having sex in the JUTC Half-Way-Tree Transport Center - How wi-Fi in Buses can lead to Solar Power, LPG and the SmarterCard Cashless system”.

But most exciting is the idea of iBeacon being tested here in Jamaica. iBeacon is Apple’s geo-Location service that can be tailored to a specific Business via the installation of Bluetooth enabled markers as explained in my blog article entitled “MLB testing out Apple's iBeacon to give New York Mets Fans Treats and Free Coupons - iBeacon a challenge to FourSquare”.

Commuters visiting the Half-Way-Tree Transport Center toting their Apple iPhones and eventually Google Android smartphones will be pleasantly surprised to discover that that the iBeacon service can serve up Bluetooth Ads. PAMS can make an app for the JUTC that could also allow commuters to receive video advertisements and special coupons and discounts when they come in proximity of an iBeacon installed at a strategic location within the Transport Center.

PAMS and the Food Court – Wi-Fi for Commuters with smartphones and SmarterCard System

Wi-Fi access is an absolute must these days it your setting up a Food Court. Teenagers (ages 13 to 17) love Wi-Fi Internet more than they love cooked Food. Combine the two and you have a potent combination that’ll keep them glued to their smartphones and immobile for hours until their Buses come.

Apple iBeacon installation within the Transport Center would also allow PAMS to serve up advertisements via Smartphone users opting in to installing a free app for the JUTC on their smartphones. This app would not only serve the purpose of giving them exclusive access to coupons and offers from the Food Court but could also be incorporated into the process of paying for fares via the SmarterCard Cashless System on the JUTC Bus.

Thus, PAMS would have solved two (2) problems in one fell swoop. Teenagers (ages 13 to 17) will probably stick around but they won’t be unruly as their bellies will be too full of Food to even cause trouble. Going home will be a cinch; they’ll gladly go on the JUTC Buses as there would be Wi-Fi Internet on JUTC Buses.

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