The Jamaica Jamaica Urban Transist Company (JUTC) will be rolling out 20 articulated buses on the island's roads next month and has plans to import an additional 75 buses in April next year.
According to the newly appointed managing director of the company, Colin Campbell, this will assist in making the JUTC's operation more efficient to the public. However, he was not able to give the cost of the buses to be added to the JUTC fleet.
"We aim to provide a reliable and cost-effective transportation system to the Kingston Metropolitan Transport Region (KMTR)," Campbell told Auto.
"The new buses will be joining the almost 400 units that are currently on the road each day," he continued.
Campbell, who assumed the position in August, formerly held by Rear Admiral Hardley Lewin, said in order to make the operations profitable the company would also have to take back ownership of all its routes from encroachers.
JUTC provides public transportation in the Kingston Metropolitan Region which covers Kingston, St Andrew, urban St Catherine -- Portmore and Spanish Town -- and sections of St Thomas.
The JUTC, which received a 25 per cent fare hike in August, has been consistently plagued by high operational costs, which continue to negatively impact its plans for profitability. Toll charges amount to $120 million per year, while fuel costs amount to about $800 million annually.
Recently, two JUTC buses were razed by fire in less than three weeks. One was totally destroyed while travelling on Hope Road two weeks ago, while the other suffered partial damage while travelling along Arthur Wint Drive, in the vicinity of the Bustamante Hospital for Children in St Andrew. In both instances, no one was hurt.
"The first fire was a mysterious one. Investigations are still taking place with the assistance of the police. In the second instance, evidence points to an electrical short circuit," Campbell told Auto.
However, the transport company executive was quick to point out that commuters should still consider themselves to be in good hands.
"The buses are very safe," he said. "We have 100 mechanics who routinely carry out preventative maintance. And, we are training the staffers to deal with eventualities such as the recent fires," he said.
According to John Campbell, JUTC deputy managing director, engineering and technical services, the company doubts that the fire which completely destroyed the bus on Hope Road started from engine trouble.
"There is nothing in that section of the bus (where the fire started) that could start a fire. But, we will have to await confirmation from the police and the fire brigade to say that."
The damaged bus costs $30 million.
-- Brian Bonitto