The fleet of the Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) was increased by 73 buses on Thursday, May 8, 2014. The 73 buses were handed over to Dr. Omar Davies, Minister of Transport, Works & Housing by Mr. Rennie Wellington , Managing Director, JR Group Ltd, the Company which facilitated the entry of the buses into Jamaica. The handing over ceremony took place at the Digicel Parking Lot at 36 Lady Musgrave Road.
Four of the Units are specially fitted low floor buses to serve the disabled/physically challenged community while four will be dispatched to Montego Bay to boost the fleet of the Montego Bay Metro. The Montego Bay Metro serves the parishes of Trelawny, St. James and Hanover. The newest set of buses will take the number of seats provided by the JUTC up top 23,000, 2,000 below the 25,000 required as per their license.
In delivering the keynote address at the handing over ceremony, Transport Minister, Dr. the Hon Omar Davies took the opportunity to decry what he referred to as ‘the terrorist activities’ of some segments of the population in attacking the JUTC buses. He said that the JUTC had the backing of government even as he paid tribute to the drivers and other members of staff who he said was doing their best to provide a good service. In speaking to the relationship between Jamaica and Belgium (from where the buses were acquired), the Minister said that he was asking the Belgians to ‘sharpen their pencils’ (make a better deal) in terms of the deal associated with the purchase of the buses. He also commended Montego Bay Metro which he says was at this time ‘breaking even’ soon.
For his part, Managing Director of the JUTC, Colin Campbell revealed that the acquisition of the new buses will result in greater levels of efficiencies. He said that this would help to maintain their daily roll-out of 400 buses daily and declared that that number will increase to 450 by the time of ‘back to school’ in September. He expressed thanks to Minister Davies whom he said re-negotiated aspects of the original contract with the Belgians to include maintenance elements. Since then, he says, 18 containers of spare parts have entered into the island. Coupled with the presence of an expert from Volvo in Belgium on staff, and a 30% increase fare income collection, The Managing Director said, “The JUTC is at a good point’.
Also speaking at the ceremony was Ms. Gloria Goffe, Executive Director of the Combined Disabilities Association. She had words of commendations for some very courteous drivers who went beyond the call of duty while operating the buses dedicated to transporting disabled persons. Describing the provision of the buses as a ‘promise made, promise kept’, she however said that she is longing to see the day when that kind of service would be available to disabled commuters outside of the KMTR. She requested in going forward that the JUTC paid more attention to the maintenance of the buses dedicated to the disabled community.
Belgian Ambassador to Jamaica, Her Excellency Godelieve Vanden Bergh said that there was a long standing relationship between Jamaica and Belgium as far as the transport sector was concerned. She