Getting Around Jamaica on Public Transport

Traffic in town street, Montego Bay, Jamaica
Robert Harding / robertharding/Getty Images

Jamaica is the largest English speaking country in the Caribbean, and along with its wonderful beaches and great resorts, the language and the ease of travel on the island is one of the reasons that it has become such a popular destination. Many people who will visit Jamaica will be happy to relax at their resort and wander on foot into the nearby town, without really wanting to get too far from the beach or the great restaurants on the island. However, for those who do get the urge to try and explore a little more of this beautiful and diverse island, the public transport network in Jamaica is very affordable and has routes connecting the cities, towns, and villages there.

The Bus Network

The most common and convenient way to explore Jamaica on public transport is by using the extensive bus network in the country, and this is made up of a relatively small number of inter-city buses and many smaller buses serving local routes. The most popular of the major bus routes is the Knutsford Express, a route which serves many of the main destinations on the island, with Kingston to Ocho Rios usually taking around three hours, and the connection from Kingston to Montego Bay taking five hours. These buses are fairly large and are air-conditioned, making the journey a little more comfortable.

The bus routes in the country are inexpensive, and you will usually see the bus stops at most road junctions, but as they are so inexpensive, you can expect most buses to be quite full, particularly around rush hour. If you are struggling to find the bus stop, most buses will also stop if you hail it from the roadside, and you can also ask the locals who will usually be happy to point you in the direction of the nearest stop.

Route Taxis And Minibuses

While buses make up the majority of the public transport options, another option that will usually be a little more expensive, but also a lot more comfortable will be to take one of the route taxis and minibuses. Those with red number plates starting PPV are licensed public transport, while those with the JUTA initials are just for tourists, and these will usually cover shorter routes to nearby towns. Most towns will have several such routes operating from a station in the center, and unlike buses that try to run to a timetable, these route taxis and minibuses will only run once they have enough people taking the journey.

Metro Systems

The largest city in Jamaica by some distance is Kingston, and it is also the city which has the most modern and developed metro system in the country. There are plenty of buses, many of which have air conditioning, while the prices for these buses are also very competitive. You will also find a selection of route taxis connecting different parts of the city and offering a little more comfort for your journey. The only other city in the country with any kind of metro system is Montego Bay, with three municipal bus routes connecting different suburbs and areas with the city center.

Ferry Services

There is a small ferry route in Jamaica that isn't really as efficient or as cheap as traveling by bus, but taking the journey by sea is a little more scenic and can also be more pleasant too. The ferry generally caters to tourists visiting the country and connects the resorts of Ocho Rios, Montego Bay, and Negril.

Are There Trains In Jamaica?

There is actually a railway network of over two hundred miles of track in Jamaica, but over recent decades there has been a significant deterioration in the condition of the track, and just over fifty miles of that track is currently in use. This is mainly used for transporting bauxite, and the last running passenger service operated in 2012, although there are regular discussions about relaunching services on the railway lines of the country. As of 2016, there are still plans and discussions in government about reintroducing passenger services, but there have been no concrete announcements with regards to this so far.