Relatively smooth start for JUTC

THE real test will come next week when all schools resume classes. But with only a handful of schools in the Corporate Area open on Monday the Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) treated it as a mock exam and the crew at North Parade in downtown Kingston believes they aced it.

From before 7:00 am three dispatchers were seen at the bus bay helping people to find which bus would take them to their destinations. The dispatchers were also busy organising drivers and ensuring that all was well.

“This has been wonderful all morning. I would grade us as excellent,” dispatcher Carlene Brown told the Jamaica Observer in-between directing people as to where the bus they wanted to take was parked.

A constantly smiling Brown was seen keeping tally of the buses coming in and going out even as she engaged passengers with a pleasant ‘good morning’.

“This was like the old days. We have buses parked in case they are needed and you can see we are rolling out some of the [50] new buses which we just received,” added Brown as she expressed confidence that the State-owned bus company is ready for the real test.

That confidence was shared by minister with responsibility for transport Daryl Vaz who told the Observer that while the bus company failed to roll-out the projected number of buses Monday morning the reports he received were encouraging.

“The final projected roll-out for this morning [Monday] was actually 285, not the 300 that we had indicated last week,” said Vaz.

He said 236 JUTC buses actually hit the road but approximately eight per cent were recalled because of defects, including problems with the fare collection machines and some for minor repairs.

“But the good thing is that we were able to get everything out for the peak hours this morning [Monday] and brought them in for repairs during the day.

“We are looking to have those sorted out to get back to between 285 and 300 within the next day or two, but it was a sterling effort by the management and staff of the JUTC, and by all reports it was a much improved back-to-school this morning based on the increase from 140 buses to 236,” said Vaz.

“I am very optimistic, based on the reports, that the fare collection machines will be sorted out and the minor repairs will be done to get the fleet up to 300 as I had projected and committed to last week,” added Vaz.

Late last week Opposition spokesman on transport Mikael Phillips had warned that the JUTC would be unable to roll out the 300 buses for back-to-school as promised by Vaz.

“For the past five years, the JUTC has continued to float large roll-out numbers for back-to-school but has failed to achieve them. Last year, 270 was promised, but the company failed to top 180. The 2023 numbers given by the minister, therefore, lack credibility,” said Phillips.