Representatives from Incavel Omnibus E Pecas, the Brazilian firm which earlier his year completely rehabilitated a badly damaged 2002 Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) bus, including adding air-conditioning capacity to the unit, arrived in the island earlier this week to assess the performance of the bus after a 90-day trial period locally.

The JUTC’s Managing Director, Paul Abrahams, is to also hold discussions with the Incavel representatives, who are in search of a possible long-term fixture out of the pilot effort.

The rehabilitation of the Volvo B7R 45-seater bus cost $12.8 million, which becomes due if the unit is established to have performed satisfactorily over the trial period, from a Jamaican standpoint. The repair job came with an eight-year operational lifespan for the bus, which compares with a 10-12 year operational lifespan for the new Volvo buses which were purchased from Belgium last year. These new buses now cost approximately $36 million each.

At roughly a third of the cost of the new buses, the Incavel option presented an attractive avenue for the JUTC to significantly increase its serviceable fleet through gradual rehabilitation of hundreds of its old and out-of-service units which the company had formerly earmarked for disposal as scrap metal.

However, since the Brazilian effort has been under way, a number of other parties have shown interest in rehabilitating JUTC buses, and these interests are being examined.

In noting the completion of the trial period for the bus which was rehabilitated by Incavel, Minister Henry said he was excited about the prospect for broad rehabilitation of the old JUTC fleet to standards comparable to the new air-condition buses from Belgium. He said that option, and the competition it had generated, presented much hope for the future of the JUTC fleet.

“When one considers that the bus which was rehabilitated was among hundreds which were destined for the scrap heap or seabed under the direction of those who were in charge before me, it is very encouraging just to know of the possibilities that lie ahead, one of which we are set to establish with the Incavel assessment process,” said the minister.