‘My heart was full’

MINISTER of Transport Daryl Vaz on Monday morning expressed joy at watching children with disabilities being placed on a Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) bus in Half-Way-Tree, St Andrew, as they headed to school.

According to Vaz, it was an emotionally touching moment for him to know that, in addition to the new buses cutting commuter wait times at bus stops, it eased the struggle of the vulnerable population.

“My heart was full when they took me to the disabled bus to see the youngsters being loaded orderly. All of them are cared for by parents and the JUTC staff at the Half-Way-Tree Transport Centre. You can see that we are very, very careful and passionate in how we look after them,” Vaz said.

He was touring Half-Way-Tree alongside Minister of Education and Youth Fayval Williams to assess the public transportation situation following the recent arrival of 50 new buses in time for the full reopening of all schools on Monday.

The transport minister said that by the middle of 2024, government will bring in some more buses as it moves closer towards realising a state-of-the-art transportation system.

“That is what all developing countries need to be truly prosperous. Getting additional buses that are not diesel, that are compressed natural gas and electric, along with the implementation of a fully cashless system by the middle of next year. That will do the trick in terms of getting the JUTC operating at a higher efficiency, with less subsidy from the government and, most importantly, moving people in a timely manner.

“I thought it important to get a first-hand view of what the situation is really like, so when I sit down with the technocrats and other partners I have a tangible idea of what is needed,” Vaz said.

Also accompanying Vaz on the tour were JUTC Managing Director Paul Abrahams, Transport Authority Managing Director Ralston Smith, and Transport Authority Chairman Owen Ellington.

Following the transportation centre tour, Vaz led a tour of taxi stands in the vicinity of Mandela Park and Hagley Park Road where he met with students and taxi operators.