June 13, 2022 | Hopeton O’Connor-Dennie | There has been a lot of negative talk about the quality of the service that JUTC offers to the public. Many say it is not up to par, especially as it relates to time tabling. This bus service is referred to as the metro in some of the North America Cities and in Montreal, Quebec Canada.
It should be noted that a city bus service is not usually designed for profit. It is a form of public service as not all persons can own a vehicle or are capable of driving themselves.
The Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) get an annual subsidy from the public purse. Successive Governments have funded operating shortfall from the national budget. This has been used as a political football especially by critics who point out how inefficient the service has historically and currently been. There is a shortage of buses also today, and it is alleged that lack of maintenance causes this to traditionally happen.
It is my perspective that the government should change their business model to use smaller buses and go cashless. Go electric Buses as part of that change.
In tiny Barbados they have gone electric in their buses. We in Jamaica should also go that route. This electric bus move would certainly lead to enormous savings and most likely a move to a profitable route. This is long overdue as expenses would be greatly reduced. This would reduce the need for less inventory as it relates to spare parts. Moving parts lead to more wear and tear and less demand on the national budget. This could lead to a profit for JUTC.
Cashless is another business model change.
There has been a plan to go cashless from inception. This need continues to happen as a lot of losses are occurring as a result of cash on the buses. Possibly an estimated million dollars per month in cash loss from the buses. To ticket machine breakdowns, and the potential for pilferage due to tickets not being issued to commuters and in turn the failure of commuters to demand same. There is a partial cashless model for children, the disabled, and seniors who are given a concession on the cost of rides. As a result of this model, a lower fare is granted to these classes of commuters. They need to have a prepaid card which is swiped in the buses for each ride. This prepaid income is the only guaranteed income the JUTC gets or is assured of. This is so sad.
It was refreshing to see the pleasant restrooms which are well kept and smelling clean. We appeal to commuters to take care of these facilities. Just be considerate to the next user to come. Please bear in mind that a bus service is like a social enterprise. Profit is not the only motivation for this service. It is an essential service of real worth to the commuting public in any society.
Hopeton O’Connor-Dennie is a poet, elegist, and author who is a senior international journalist who visited the restroom and has filed this story for Vision Newspaper. He is a regular writer.