Performance at JUTC continues to decline
JUTC buses are seen at the Half-Way-Tree Transport Centre inSt Andrew.

THERE was close to a 20 per cent decline in the average number of buses that the Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) operated monthly in the Kingston Metropolitan Region (KMTR) in 2021, marking the fourth year of decline.

In its review of land transportation in the 2021 Economic and Social Survey tabled in Parliament last week, the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) said, on average, 207 buses operated in the transport region, which was consistent with the reduction in the number of buses operated by the State-run company. In 2020 the monthly average was 260.

Revenue for passenger trips dropped from $21.6 million to $16.5 million for the fifth consecutive year, and fare income reduced to $1.5 billion compared with $1.9 billion, for a fifth year also. Charter trips also suffered a more than 61 per cent decline in 2021, the fifth consecutive year of decline in that revenue stream .

At the same time, the JUTC’s electronic fare payment system — Smarter Cards — saw a three per cent increase in the number of new cards issued after six consecutive years of decline. This equated to 3,867 more cards, the report said. However, the revenue intake for card usage fell from $425 million to $325 million or 33 per cent of the JUTC’s total fare income, similar to 2020.

Over the review period, the State-run bus company operated 65 regular, 29 express, 27 premium, three special service routes for the physically challenged in the KMTR, and charter services from its Rockfort, Portmore, and Spanish Town depots.

Also, 270 of its sub[1] licencees operated on 36 routes compared with 342 operating on 41 routes in 2020, the survey noted.

Meanwhile, applications to the Transport Authority for licences grew by 5.4 per cent to 77,084 due to a 13.4 per cent increase in applications for commercial carriage licences, which brought that category of applications to 45,730.

This category of licences offset the of 4.5 per cent decline in applications in the public passenger vehicle (PPV) category, the PIOJ noted. All sub-categories of PPV recorded lower numbers of application, except for contract carriage, which increased by 22.2 per cent, bringing those numbers to 6,612. The largest decline recorded was for express carriage licences, which dropped from 47 to three applications.

The regulator recorded a 14 per cent increase in the number of licences issued, bringing the total to 84,225. However, it was noted that despite the increase in licences issued, there was a fall-off in the number of vehicles and seating capacity for vehicles licensed in the KMTR, rural route taxis, and rural stage carriages.

BY ALPHEA SUMNER Senior staff reporter

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