Gov’t plans to significantly increase JUTC buses over next two years
CLOSE to 500 new buses are expected to be added to the fleet of the Jamaica Urban Transit Company Limited (JUTC) by 2025, Transport and Mining Minister Audley Shaw has announced.
Shaw, who was making his contribution to the 2023/24 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives on Tuesday, said the State-run entity has been affected by an ageing fleet and reduced bus numbers, noting that while there are about 220 buses, the average daily bus run-out is 163 “which is unacceptable.”
“The Government remains committed to providing the necessary support to not only augment the fleet, but also to modernise its operations, using a mix of energy sources, including electric and natural gas units,” he said.
Shaw noted that 50 buses, which comprise 45 diesel and five electric, are currently on their way to Jamaica and should arrive by the end of the month.
Additionally, he said 20 compressed natural gas (CNG)-fuelled units will be added to the fleet under a joint arrangement with private sector partners. These units are expected by late August/September.
“That will make 70 additional new buses and in addition, we intend to aggressively bring back those other 70 or so buses which have been out of operation…Those will be brought back, so that between the 220 that are here now and the 70 that are coming over the next few months, we’ll have close 300 buses,” he said.
It was previously announced by Finance and Public Service Minister Dr Nigel Clarke in his budget presentation that the Government would be procuring an additional 200 electric buses over the next two years.
“That would bring us well over the 400 mark…it will, in fact, be heading closer to 500 when that is completed,” Shaw said.
Shaw said the Government is currently engaged in a Battery Electric Bus pilot project for the testing of six electric buses, which will evaluate the performance of these electric buses, and form the basis for comparison to the diesel and CNG buses.
“As a matter of fact, one electric bus is already in operation…we are assessing its performance on our roads. So far, the general feedback has been quite positive,” he said.
In the meantime, Shaw said the Government will be seeking to address the issue of fuel pilferage which has been plaguing the JUTC for more than two decades,
“We are pursuing new methods to combat the innovative means by which thieves have been pilfering fuel. Without divulging too much, due to the sensitivity and security issues around this matter, we are at an advanced stage of using technology-based solutions to assist us in detecting, locating, and tracking our fuel,” he said.