'It's another fare increase'
Commuters blast JUTC over planned discontinuation of transfer serviceThursday, November 07, 2013
BY KIMMO MATTHEWS Observer staff reporter firstname.lastname@example.org
COMMUTERS have described as unfair the decision by the Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) to discontinue its transfer service, saying the move is tantamount to a 100 per cent fare increase.
The State-owned JUTC announced Tuesday that come Sunday commuters, including children, will no longer be able to transfer to other bus routes on a single fare, citing abuse of the current system.
But, the decision has left commuters fuming.
"This is not fair; consumers are already struggling to find the 25 per cent fare increase that was granted to JUTC in August and less than three months after we are again being asked to pay more," said Shane Philips, a software technician in Kingston.
"This is really a backward step; we believe that instead of this move the JUTC should move to improve its system and not pass the blame for their shortfalls on the customers," said Al Martin, a vendor who sells in Cross Roads.
Orlando Allen from Spanish Town, St Catherine, agreed. "I believe this is unfair and unprofessional," he said.
Yesterday Clinton Clarke, marketing and communications manager at the JUTC, said the changes will affect a total of 15 routes across the Kingston Metropolitan Transport Region (Kingston, St Andrew and St Catherine) and would mean that passengers who were once allowed to travel from one route to the next using transfer tickets, will now be required to pay to travel on the additional routes.
"Transfer, which was a part of what we do, we are deciding to discontinue," Clarke told the Jamaica Observer, explaining that the move is part of efforts to plug revenue leaks as the transfer system was causing the company to lose between $500,000 and $1 million per day.
He, however, said the JUTC is open to discussions and feedback on the decision to guide the way forward. He also apologised for the short notice to passengers.
Already, some commuters are calling on the bus company to revisit its decision given the harsh economic conditions which prevail in the country.
"People are being asked to accept wage freezes but yet all they are faced with are increases. I really believe JUTC should have had more discussions on the matter," said Kady Rankine.
And, Frank West believes the decision will only put more financial burden on the commuting public.
"This move will be costly to the commuters," he told the Observer.
Another commuter, who asked not to be identified, said this would mean that he would have to spend 100 per cent more to travel to and from work.
But there are others like Manda Campbell who have decided to literally 'grin and bear it'.
"It is something [to which] I will have to just adjust myself... what more can I do," said Campbell as she waited for a bus in downtown Kingston.
Similar sentiments were shared by Huga Dockery in Plantation Heights, who said he will just have to cope.
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