JUTC shifts gear

JUTC shifts gear

Observer senior reporter

Friday, January 17, 2020

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THE Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) has made a strategic move to improve its service to the public with two recent changes to its operations management.

Former Jamaica Defence Force officer, Lt Colonel Godphey Sterling has been appointed the new deputy managing director in charge of operations, while Owen Smith Jr, former Operations manager at Appliance Traders Ltd (ATL) has been made director of operations at the company's Rockfort Depot in Kingston.

“We are always looking at ways to maximise efficiency at the JUTC, and with the combination of skills set that these gentlemen have, we are hoping that it will boost operations with respect to the roll out of our fleet, and the maintenance of the fleet and, generally speaking, the optimum performance of the JUTC with respect to its bus operations,” the company's Communications Manager Cecil Thoms told Jamaica Observer's weekly Auto magazine yesterday.

Thoms said that the company is well aware of the weaknesses in the service and the complaints from the commuters, who have expressed their

dissatisfaction on numerous occasions about the quality of the service on some of the routes.

“Hopefully, with the injection of these two gentlemen, and the kind of expertise that they bring to bear, we are hoping that, in short order, we will have not only an enhanced product, but also a much better functioning JUTC,” Thoms said.

The JUTC spokesman, however, noted that some of the issues, especially in the downtown Kingston area, are not matters for the JUTC. These include the lack of space and shelter for commuters awaiting the buses in the Parade area.

Numerous complaints have been made by JUTC customers about the lack of proper accommodation in the parking lanes for the buses, which they have to share with dozens of vendors on and off the vehicles.

Thoms admitted that vending on the buses is against the company's rules, but insisted that it is very difficult to administer the rules.

“There is prohibition of eating on the buses, we have the rules but the vendors are hell-bent on selling. Try telling them not to!” he said.

In addition to selling on the buses, the vendors also occupy some of the islands built for the accommodation of waiting passengers, forcing them elsewhere.
These issues outside the JUTC's space should be tackled by the Kingston and St Andrew Municipal Corporation (KSAMC) which controls vending in downtown Kingston.

Both new appointees at the JUTC should bring about a positive impact. Lt Colonel Sterling, who joined the company on December 18, was up to recently in charge of operations in the areas covered by the current states of emergency (SOE) in western Jamaica.

Sterling was acting commanding officer, 2nd Battalion Jamaica Regiment, which is now headquartered in Montego Bay. He has a master's degree in defence studies, is well versed in transport, logistics and security protocol and is a graduate of the Royal Military College in Canada. He served 24 years in the military.

Smith has a bachelor's degree in urban and regional planning, and has 15 years' experience in field operations management, transport logistics and security protocol, including serving as the operations manager at ATL.

The government-owned JUTC has been seeking to upgrade the quality of its service to the public, starting with a roll-out of an average 450 buses carrying an average 250,000 passengers daily. It is the single largest carrier of passengers in the Kingston Metropolitan Region.

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