In 2013, the Government improved the way Jamaicans commute, by enhancing the operations of the Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC), tidying up the public transportation system, and launching a major road safety campaign.
More JUTC Buses
The fleet of JUTC buses plying routes across the Kingston Metropolitan Transport Region (KMTR) was increased from 244 to 350 during the year.
This was facilitated through the introduction of a number of buses, which the state-run entity acquired.
Improved Customer Service
The JUTC also rolled out several initiatives aimed at improving the quality of service provided to passengers travelling on its buses.
These included: training of staff in customer service; phased implementation of the cashless fare system; increasing the number of buses in operation; and the new ‘Park and Ride’ service for Portmore, St. Catherine.
Removal of Free Transfer System
In November, the state-run bus company discontinued its free transfer system in a move to save some $500,000 to $600,000 daily, or $150 million per annum.
The new system, which requires passengers transferring from JUTC buses in Half-Way-Tree to other destinations, to pay, is part of the drive to prevent, and mop up revenue losses, which amount to $250 million monthly. It will also help to eliminate fraud.
Bus Service for Students
Students residing in the Portmore, St. Catherine, region now have the benefit of a structured and efficient transportation system, following the launch of this new service in September.
The School Transport Programme is a joint venture between the Transport Authority and the St. Catherine School Bus Association.
The JUTC, on November 1, implemented a pilot for a designated bus lane, aimed at alleviating traffic congestion along the Mandela Highway, particularly during peak hours. For the three-month trial period, the westbound dual carriageway is being converted to a two-way traffic from Caymanas Bay to the Plantation Heights entrance from 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. on weekdays and from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. in the opposite direction.
In August, a batch of 541 persons were certified for having successfully completed a Public Passenger Vehicle Driver and Conductor Training Programme, carried out by the Transport Authority in collaboration with the HEART Trust/NTA. The course covered the laws governing the transport sector, customer service, conflict resolution, and defensive driving techniques.
Innovative Approach to Reducing Repair Costs
The bus company and the HEART Trust/ NTA signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that will see JUTC buses being repaired by persons trained by the HEART, at a depot on Lyndhurst Road, in Kingston.
Increasing earnings for JUTC II
The Transport Ministry also worked on widening the client base of the Jamaica Ultimate Tyre Company (JUTC II), to include more public and private sector customers, as it sought to maximize earnings and realize savings for the Government. Also, as part of enhancing the fleet and safety, the JUTC II provided more than 400 new and retreaded tyres for buses in time for the start of the new school year.
‘Walk, Ride and Drive for Life’
The Ministry renewed efforts to influence behaviour change among road users through the public education campaign ‘Walk, Ride and Drive for Life’, which was led by the Road Safety Unit, and featured a series of Road Safety tours across the island.
The road tours saw the Ministry and its partners using a road safety decorated truck to transmit the ‘road safety messages’ at various town centres with the assistance of popular personalities from the entertainment fraternity and the police
NRSC Is Recipient of International Road Safety Award
The National Road Safety Council (NRSC) received the 2013 Prince Michael of Kent International Road Safety Award, in recognition of its programmes and activities that have resulted in significant reductions in traffic accidents and fatalities across Jamaica.
His Royal Highness, Prince Michael of Kent, presented the award to NRSC Chairperson, Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller, during the Council’s 20th anniversary commemorative banquet at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, New Kingston, on April 17.
Rehabilitation of Examination Depots
The Government embarked on a programme to rehabilitate the Island Traffic Authority (ITA) Examination Depots across the island.
Some $38 million is being expended during the current financial year, to undertake improvements to five of the 15 depots. This involves upgrading of the buildings and provision of technology to reduce manual processes. Work on the physical plant at the St. Ann’s Bay facility is almost complete, while repairs are at various stages at the other depots located at: Spanish Town in St. Catherine, and Swallowfield; Harbour View; and Spanish Town Road, in St. Andrew.