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JUTC Pushes Out Earlier

BY BALFORD HENRY
Observer senior reporter
balfordh@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, August 31, 2018

IN an effort to avoid the lengthy traffic delays due to road repairs, the Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) will be expanding its “early bird” service to Portmore, St Catherine, to provide some relief come Monday morning, the start of the new school year.

Cecil Thoms, JUTC communications manager, said the State-run entity will dispatch buses earlier to several routes in the 'Sunshine City'.

“On Dawkins Drive and Christian Pen routes we will be sending buses from 5:30 am to 6:45 am. This will prevent commuters from getting caught up in peak-hour traffic,” he told Jamaica Observer's weekly Auto magazine.

Thoms said the new shift was tested in the Corporate Area during the summer break and was successful.

“We had a pilot programme in June/July and we found that people were using it, so we will be continuing that. That shift is 4:00 am to 5:00 am,” he said.

According to the communications manager, some 420 to 430 buses will be rolled out on Monday morning. He however conceded that despite the company's extra effort, there may still be delays.

“We understand the discomfort, but we are just asking them to be patient and understand that once the roads are improved, then everybody should be happy,” he said.

He said that at least 34 of the company's routes will suffer problems, affecting over 100 buses daily.

In March the JUTC issued a media release stating that it was aware that its service had been experiencing delays due to the extensive roadwork, noting that it was no fault of the company. But, the company insisted that, like all other road users, the JUTC welcomed the improvements.

“We are appealing to the public that we are really doing the best we can in the circumstances. But the fact is that there is nothing we can do about the delays being caused by the number of road improvement projects. We are appealing for patience,” he said then.

The delays are basically attributed to the number of road improvement projects currently taking place in the Kingston Metropolitan Area (KMA), which includes Kingston, St Andrew, and St Catherine.

He also noted that, in addition to the road improvement works, the service was also suffering from a reduction in its fleet size — from 450 per day to between 390 and 400 — due to the large number of vehicles vandalised as well as the need for spare parts.

The National Works Agency (NWA) commenced some 51 road rehabilitation projects this year to improve the island's road network, at a cost of $4.8 billion.

The work is taking place in all parishes and includes construction of retaining walls, the laying of new base and paving with asphaltic concrete, construction of sidewalks, and road markings.

Major roadworks being carried out by the NWA in Kingston and St Andrew include Hagley Park Road, Constant Spring Road, and Barbican Road, as well as Mandela Highway in St Catherine.