Three additional buses to serve the disabled community exclusively, were commissioned into service on Tuesday, May 17, 2011. The ceremony for the commissioning took place at the Asheneim Road Service Depot.
The three buses join three of the bigger buses now in operation. The new buses are able to comfortably seat twelve persons and will also sport air conditioning units. Special Bus Service for the disabled community started in 2001 but challenges over the years including age and maintenance associated with the units have impaired its efficiency. Drivers to man these buses have been specially trained to deal with the various needs and peculiarities required by the disabled community.
Speaking at the ceremony, Minister Mike Henry placed the roll-out of the buses in the broader context of the multi-modal transport system. He noted that later on in the year a Brazilian Company which is currently retrofitting and refurbishing some of the old ‘written off’ buses will be working on some with a view to having them serve the disabled community. Noting that the service will be available to various institutions serving the disabled community, Minister Henry said that all these plans are part of the thrust to maintaining standards and enhancing the life experience of the less fortunate and vulnerable in the society.
Speaking also at the ceremony was Minister Andrew Gallimore, the State Minister in the Ministry of Labour. He thanked the JUTC for its efforts in ‘moving into the 21st Century’ with respect to the roll-out of the new buses.
He thanked Minister Henry for his stewardship to the disabled community including the move to have deaf drivers on the nation’s roads. He said that the new buses will allow the disabled community to travel in comfort and style.
Also speaking at the ceremony was Minister Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange who has a long standing relationship with the disabled community through sports and more specifically sports for people like the paralympians and ‘special’ athletes. She too thanked the Minister and the JUTC for the good move and highlighted the fact that she was looking forward to having ‘fifty of those buses’ for Jamaica’s 50th anniversary in 2012.
Ms. Theresa Grant who spoke on behalf of the Combined Disabilities Association said that they had been in dialogue with the JUTC re: the service for a long time and was very happy that at long last it had now become a reality. She was very optimistic about the service and noted that the community would be taking every advantage of it.