JUTC rolls out new initiatives


JUTC rolls out new initiatives

Observer senior reporter

Friday, June 19, 2020

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STATE-RUN Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) Limited will continue to pursue a number of initiatives aimed at increasing operational efficiencies, despite a near one-third drop in revenue due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

One of the most ambitious proposals from the company is a plan to convert one of its buses into a mobile supermarket, geared at serving elderly and disabled persons at their homes.

Making the announcement recently in the House of Representatives, Minister of Transport and Mining Robert Montague said that the initiative is a partnership between a private company, Stocks and Securities Limited (SSL), and the Government-owned bus company.

“SSL will undertake the retrofitting and operate and pay the attendant costs,” Montague revealed as he gave an update of developments within the transportation sector.

According to Montague, items will be sold from the mobile supermarket; however, the project is not a profit-making venture.

In addition, as part of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the JUTC will give sub-franchise holders up to September 30 to pay fees, and a 20 per cent discount on fees will also be granted.

Front-line workers in the anti-coronavirus fight will continue to ride free on the buses as well as the JUTC companion bus company, the Montego Bay Metro Company, until the end of August.

The JUTC says it will be pursuing these activities, as well as the implementation of an oil filtration system in 300 buses, which is geared at improving the efficiency and operational life of the buses' engines, and the refurbishment of 15 damaged buses to facilitate their return to service.

The bus company's operational plan assumes a total passenger carry of approximately 50 million for 2020/21 from an average bus run-out of 391 daily.

To facilitate the increased passenger carry, the company will be enhancing its fleet management and bus-tracking system, to provide real-time information to assist with efficient decision-making and service delivery; improve the fare collection system to support the efficient collection of revenue; and increase the fleet by 50 new buses.

The company has already reported a 30 per cent decline in revenues, as the number of people using public transportation shrank daily over the last few weeks, with schools and business either closing or laying off staff, as well as a large number of workers working from home.

Prior to the onset of COVID-19 in Jamaica, more than 200,000 people within the Kingston Metropolitan Transport Region (KMTR), which includes Spanish Town and Portmore, travelled on JUTC buses daily. However, since March, the company has been running at about 60-70 per cent of normal ridership.

However, the company's communications manager, Cecil Thoms, maintains that the bus company does not operate primarily for profit but to provide an essential and affordable service for commuters.

“In terms of revenue, we are looking at about a 30 per cent reduction across the board, route by route,” he told the Jamaica Observer's weekly Auto magazine.

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