An ambitious project to refurbish and restore old, broken down, ‘written-off’ JUTC buses was launched at the Portmore Bus Depot on Tuesday, September 20, 2011.

The project which will see an alliance between INCAVEL out of Brazil and the JUTC here in Jamaica working on repairing these old broken down buses to ultimately bring them back into operational service. This is expected to save the GOJ and the JUTC significant sums of money

In providing a background to the project, Managing Director of the JUTC, Mr. Paul Abrahams said that it had its genesis when an official from INCAVEL visited Jamaica and commented that some buses which were earmarked for disposal could be refurbished. Thereafter a partnership was forged between the two countries whereby one of the worst damaged buses was sent to Brazil where it was refurbished and sent back to Jamaica complete with air conditioning. That particular Unit upon return was tested on the roads here and satisfied all the conditions. Additionally, JUTC staff will be trained by the Brazilians to eventually take over the reins of the refurbishment programme right here in Jamaica.

Continuing Mr. Abrahams said, “Five buses will leave Jamaica for Brazil this week for refurbishment and will return to Jamaica in December where they will be completed in Montego Bay.” “Twenty-seven buses will be done in the initial stage of the programme,” he explained.

Also speaking at the ceremony was Chairman of JUTC Mr. Robin Levy. He outlined various challenges that the Company was facing; among them the stealing of fuel from some depots, keeping buses on the road and the balancing act of keeping fares affordable and at the same time at a point to allo9w the company to make money. He noted that despite these challenges, important strides had been made which have seen the Company making some increased revenues and catching up on some of their back payments to their creditors.

And for his part, INCAVEL representative Mr. Carlos Zapata thanked the JUTC for the opportunity to do business with the Company. He described the partnership as a good thing especially in the context of a harsh economic environment. He charged all the stakeholders to take care of all the buses, especially the ones that are being refurbished, noting that they can serve for up to twenty years with proper maintenance.

Transport Minister Mike Henry in giving the keynote address placed the partnership in the context of the multi-modal transport plan. He outlined his vision for the transport sector including the colour coding of buses and taxis, the expansion of the transport system to rural areas, having JUTC buses equipped with A/C Units and generally to make the JUTC more attractive to commuters.

Minister Henry also spoke to the employment potential contained in the partnership between the JUTC and INCAVEL. He said that with the initiative each bus refurbished will see three persons being employed. He noted that between 300 and 400 can be resurrected and that there would be considerable savings as the refurbished bus will cost $130,000.00 while a new one costs $300,000.00. To this end, he said he will continue the dialogue with all stakeholders with respect to not only the initiative with INCAVEL but with respect to the wider multi-modal transport plan.