Transport and Works Minister, Hon. Mike Henry, has cited the ongoing roll-out of yellow-dominated Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) fleet as a major plank of the Ministry’s Multi-Modal Transport Plan. He said other aspects of the overall plan, including the broad Colour-Coding Programme, were slated to gradually come on stream

The Minister, in addressing the handing-over of the latest batch of 50 buses from Belgium in Kingston on Tuesday, June 1, noted the positive impact of the improved driver training programme at the JUTC, which he said had been reflected in the exemplary response by JUTC driver Annette Howard in the face of a airplane crash outside the Norman Manley International Airport on December 22 last year.

The Minister noted that Miss Howard has been duly recognised for her heroics with a family trip to the United States. He said both her example and the whole ambience which the new JUTC buses offered, had positively impacted on the company’s service level generally. This, he said, had contributed to increased ridership for the JUTC, including the highest passenger lift for a single month since 2006, in March of this year.

Likewise, the JUTC has been experiencing growth in its SmartCard usage, and the Minister said he would be advocating for personalised cards for school children, including possibly with their school designation, under the cashless fare collection system that is being introduced by the JUTC.

Minister Henry also noted the profound turnaround of the JUTC-owned Jamaica Ultimate Tyre Company (JUTC 2) over the last financial year, which he said pointed to greater efficiency at work in respect of the management of both entities.

He thanked both the Belgian Government and bank that were involved, for their continued support of the local transport sector, especially the JUTC.

The Minister’s sentiment was echoed by Rennie Wellington, Managing Director of the JR Group, local agents for Jonckheere, manufacturers of the Volvo and VDL buses which were being presented to the JUTC. He noted that there were 79 improvements to the new batch of buses, in comparison to the units which arrived last year. The improvements, he said, were all geared to enhance the capacity of the units and the comfort and convenience being offered to the commuters.

Chairman of the JUTC, Robin Levy, in his remarks, also expressed appreciation for the Belgian assistance. He noted the sacrifice which the JUTC staff has been making in the interest of the commuters, which he said was being manifested in the obvious improvements in the company’s service over recent months.

Deputy Head of Mission at the Belgian Embassy, Lucas Muylle, in his remarks, cited the intense pride he has experienced in Jamaica for over a year, “each time I see these yellow

buses on the streets, knowing that they have come from my country.” He said his government had committed to assist the local transport sector and would continue to honour that undertaking.