Vandalism, roadwork, maintenance impact JUTC bus roll-out

Friday, March 16, 2018

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Dear Editor,

Permit me to respond to Nicholas Smith's letter to the editor published in the Jamaica Observer on Friday, March 9, 2018 entitled 'J'accuse JUTC' in which he argued that the State-run bus company has “abdicated its responsibility to residents of Greater Portmore”. He further noted that there are not enough buses on the routes, in particular route 20A.

We wish to assure Smith that the Jamaica Urban Transit Company is committed to delivering an efficient service within the Kingston Metropolitan Transport Region (KMTR) in keeping with its mandate. Are there challenges? Most definitely! However, to suggest that the situation is woefully dire to the extent that we have “abdicated our responsibility” is hyperbolic!

We currently have a fleet of 450 buses spread across our operating zones; 10, and as many as 14 are dispatched on route 20A, depending on availability. Our fleet would have been closer to 500 if vandals had not damaged some of our buses forcing them out of operation. For the record, there were over 130 reported incidents of vandalism in 2017. To compound this matter, we have an aging fleet, which requires consistent maintenance. With spare parts not available locally we have to source them from overseas (mostly Europe). These parts do not arrive instantly and usually take between three to four weeks to be imported; and the necessary processes of clearance.

Let me hasten to point out that it is precisely because of these and other factors why our run-out has been impacted and, as a result, commuters may from time to time experience delays. A major maintenance programme is underway to get back as many of our units into operation. With spare parts coming in steadily, we expect to see a marked improvement in our roll-out numbers by the end of this month.

Additionally, the problem is further exacerbated by the many road/improvement repairs taking place in the KMTR. The resultant impact being longer time spans in traffic and a negative bearing on our schedules. We use this opportunity to thank our commuters for their patronage and reiterate that we are doing everything possible to fulfil our responsibility and ask for their continued support and understanding.

Cecil Thoms

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