60,000 commuters to benefit from reduction in JUTC fares come January
KINGSTON, Jamaica – Some 60,000 Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) passengers in the Kingston Metropolitan Region are set to benefit from the temporary reduction in bus fares.
As of January 1, there will be a cut in the regular fare from $100 to $70, with the fare for children moving from $30 to $25, and for pensioners from $40 to $30.
Additionally, effective April 1, 2024, there will be a further lowering of the regular fare from $70 to $50, from $25 to $20 for children, while the fare for pensioners will be reduced from $30 to $25.
Minister of Science, Energy, Telecommunications and Transport, Daryl Vaz, said with the JUTC set to receive additional buses, more persons will benefit from the initiative.
“With the increase in buses… and we are far advanced in the process, we are looking to put 100 buses in the fleet of the JUTC. The impact of those 100 buses will probably increase JUTC’s daily movements by about 20,000, so you’ll be moving to 80,000,” he noted.
Additionally, the minister said the 100 new buses will enable the JUTC to expand services to St Thomas and Clarendon bordering Manchester, in the future.
“This will have a huge impact in relation to people being able to move more efficiently,” Vaz pointed out.
The reduction in fare is expected to increase demand for JUTC service, and as such, changes will be coming for several bus routes in the new year.
“We estimate that we will get a big influx of additional passengers,” he said.
“We need to make sure that the buses can ply the routes in a much timelier manner, so we [will be] doing some announcements in relation to some specific routes and some designated lanes for public passenger transport,” he said.
The Transport Minister also assured public passenger vehicle operators that the JUTC fare cut will not have a significant impact on their revenue.
“I think it [impact] will be minimised because of our current fleet of buses. I think that when we increase the fleet, obviously persons would have more access to the buses, but I am not seeing where it would be very impactful at this particular time,” Vaz stated.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Andrew Holness said the initiative “aims to reduce the effects of inflation, ensuring a positive outcome for the entire population”.
Providing further details, Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Dr Nigel Clarke, said that the measure will support efforts by the Bank of Jamaica (BOJ) to return and keep inflation within the target range of four to six per cent.
The BOJ’s monetary policy action, supported by prudent fiscal policy, as well as a moderation in imported commodity prices, has resulted in a sharp decline in 12-month point-to-point inflation from a high of 11.8 per cent in April 2022 to 5.1 per cent in October 2023.
BOJ Governor, Richard Byles, explained that when the Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee met on November 17 and 20, it was advised that inflation was projected to rise above the Bank’s target range between December 2023 and March 2025, due in large part to the impact of announced increases in selected public passenger fares.
“However, in the context of… the announcement by the minister of finance and the public service of a temporary two-step reduction in JUTC bus fares effective January 1 and April 1, 2024, inflation is now projected to generally remain within the target range except for December 2023 and a few months in 2024,” Byles said.
He added that the announced fiscal measure will have a material impact on tempering the potential inflationary pressures of the PPV fare increases.
On October 10, 2023, the Government announced a 19 per cent increase in PPV fares (excluding JUTC and the Montego Bay Metro (MBM)), effective October 15, 2023.
A further 16 per cent increase was also announced to take effect in April 2024.