YOU expect to get wet, or splashed while walking on the street in rainy weather. But it can also happen when riding in a bus, as some commuters headed from Portmore to Half-Way-Tree on an articulated bus plying the 12A route found out last week.
The bus, which is operated by the Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC), had gaping holes in the roof of the accordion-like attachment in the middle, and at least one long gash on the left side of the floor close to the second set of wheels. Rain also streamed in through cracks in the windows, doors, and the emergency exit.
A young man, who gave his name only as Patrick, a resident of Cumberland, summed up the experience thus: "The bus leaking, dirty water splashing on me inside the bus, and a lot of holes in the bottom of the bus."
While some passengers seemed unfazed — perhaps as a result of being entertained by a lay preacher's sermon on homosexuality — others were not pleased and shared their views with the Jamaica Observer.
"Ah eediat ting dis," yelled a man who declined to identify himself by name. "Government slack and disgusting... an dem ah talk bout dem want fare increase!"
He said sheets of tarpaulin or something equally "flexible" and impervious could be used as a temporary solution.
Montague Henry, another passenger, sat near a hole in the floor and was repeatedly observed brushing from his thigh water that had splashed from the road surface through the hole. An elderly woman who sat facing him was also being splashed, but she had fallen asleep and was therefore oblivious.
"They (Government) can't expect us to be paying all of these taxes — GCT, PAYE and all those things — and yet still we're not getting the service that we require," Henry fumed.
"If we say that we are trying to be a nation that is growing and developing I think it's very bad to have us travelling in this way, and really and truly I think it's time for us to get our acts straight in terms of how we treat our people," he added.
Passagefort resident Geraldine Kerr said the experience with the leaky bus wasn't her first.
"It happen on the 16 route too. Something needs to be done," she said.
"It's terrible. When I came in I couldn't find a proper spot to stand up. There were four seats there, but I couldn't sit on them because they were wet so I had to squeeze into the (accordion section which spins), so it was really uncomfortable."
"It careless," Kim from Morris Meadows chimed in. "Yuh pay yuh good, good fare come inna di bus and yuh haffi ah get wet. Mi nuh like dat. Mi haffi run come from down deh so cause mi nuh waan get splash."
Added Anthony, another Cumberland resident: "Wi ah taxpayer. Wi pay wi taxes, so dem ting yah fi look pon an deal wid."
Last Wednesday, the JUTC signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the HEART Trust/NTA which will facilitate the repair of defective buses at the company's depot on Lyndhurst Road, in Kingston, by persons trained by HEART.
The measure, according to a Jamaica Information Service release, is expected to save money, as it utilises the expertise of locally trained individuals. Also, according to the release, JUTC board Chairman Rev Garnet Roper said there were approximately 113 buses at the facility in various stages of disrepair.
The statement, however, did not speak to buses currently in operation. As far as some commuters are concerned, however, there are more than one in similar condition to the leaky 12A.
"Is not this bus alone," said the man referred to above who declined giving his name. "Mi nuh know the number of dem, but mi drive pon some weh stay so and mi nuh tink ah di same bus mi ah tek ova and ova."
The driver of the leaking bus told the Jamaica Observer that some buses have been in disrepair for "quite some time now" and that reports of problems are made as soon as they are discovered, as per company policy.
"We have informed the company and they are the ones who are now to address them," he said.