JUTC reduces fleet for lockdown weekendsFriday, March 26, 2021
BY BALFORD HENRY
THE Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) said it will be reducing the number of buses in service for the three weekends of curfews announced by the Government last Sunday.
It will be a huge blow for a company which has shown a determination to drastically reduce its costs, thereby reducing the level of Government intervention to keep the services on the streets.
“It is a great loss to the company because people normally use the weekends to go shopping, go to the market and even go to church. In areas where we used to have 20 to 40 buses, it has dropped to five or so. Normally, we would have engaged about 260 buses per day,” Cecil Thoms, JUTC communications manager, told the Jamaica Observer's weekly Auto magazine.
On Sunday, Prime Minister Andrew Holness announced restrictions expected to last for the next three consecutive weekends in a bid to stem the current spike in COVID-19 figures. Starting tomorrow, March 27, 2021, the curfew begins at noon and continues throughout Sunday and ends 5:00 am on Monday.
“It is not the intention of the Government to want to deprive people of the pursuit of their happiness. But it can't be that the entire society collapses because people pursue selfishly,” said Holness.
As of yesterday, Jamaica registered more than 37,000 positive cases, and 546 deaths.
In the meantime, JUTC's employees over the age of 60 years have been persuaded to stay at home, while other employees are being rotated to cut overtime.
The company reported recently that its losses have been more than 60 per cent of its revenue since March 2020, due to various restrictions to reduce the spread of the virus.
“We have seen a two-thirds fall-off in our revenue intake. Since last year March, it began as a gradual falling-off into about August last year that we saw our greatest reduction,” according to the Deputy Managing Director in Charge of Operations Owen Smith.
Smith admitted that even when work-from-home orders had eased, the company was still not seeing an improvement in the number of passengers.
With the work-from-home programme becoming the new normal, it is possible that things will remain the same until the company and the Government come up with new income-generating ideas for the service.
Despite the setbacks, Thoms said that the JUTC will continue operating a reduced service for essential and front-line staff on the weekend schedule during the Easter holiday period.
Thoms said that, otherwise, the JUTC will only be providing normal service between 5:00 am and 8:00 pm, on weekdays. He also encouraged commuters to wear their masks for the duration of their journey.
“We are encouraging commuters to familiarise themselves with the schedules,” he added, noting they can be seen at jutc.gov.jm, or on its Facebook page at Jamaica Urban Transit Company or on Twitter @JUTCLTD.
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