The Jamaica Urban Transit Company Limited (JUTC) wishes to set the record straight amidst reports that have surfaced about overcrowding at the Half Way Tree Transport Centre, the Downtown Hub and a number of its Lay-bys. These instances of stranded commuters are being attributed to mismanagement and a shortage of buses.
The JUTC has always acknowledged the chronic shortage of buses to service the requirements for passenger lift within the two very distinct peak periods daily. Corporate Communications Manager, Cecil Thoms says with there being no exemptions to the JUTC, the curfew has restricted the operating hours of the bus company. “What we have is a situation where significant shortage of buses has been compounded with a seated-only policy and a concomitant increase in commuters at the Centre between 4:30pm and 6pm daily, resulting in a passenger rush at the end of the permitted hours of operation” Thoms said.
He noted that the Company is working aggressively to ensuring that outer points that support the Centre provide greater inflows as best as possible to meet demand. However, the absence of dedicated bus lanes, signal prioritization at traffic lights and queue jump lanes means that the cycle times increase with an increase in traffic on the roads. Therefore, while every effort is being made to ameliorate the situation there can be no guarantees in the transit times from the outer points to the Centre.
Meanwhile, he noted that while both gates at the Centre are closed at 5:30pm, there are no restrictions on buses to enter or for passengers, if seats are available. But, from a security standpoint, a decision has to be taken daily to close the gates based on the assessed departure time for the last runs of the day along the various routes. These times are available from the JUTC’s website and other social media platforms.
“We are appealing to passengers to download our last trip departure schedule which is available on our website so that they can better manage their daily commute for the remainder of the curfew, as well as to wear facial masks to protect themselves and other commuters. Also, employers and commuters can help us by better planning their days so that everyone is not in the Centre at the same time standing in long queues” Thoms said.