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KINGSTON — The fleet of buses serving Government's employees has been improved with the addition of four buses.

The air conditioned buses, which were commissioned during a ceremony at the Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) service depot, on Ashenheim Road, in Kingston on September 9, bring to 13 the number of buses now serving public servants in Kingston and St. Andrew, St. Catherine, and St. Thomas.

They were handed over by the Ministry of Transport and Works/JUTC to the Cabinet Office to enhance the government’s transportation programme for public sector workers.  More than 9,000 public sector workers   are served by the buses.

Minister with responsibility for Public Service, Senator Arthur Williams, said the programme is an important benefit to those who utilise the service.

"There is clearly a need to beef up the fleet from the nine buses that are now part of the project. We have 12 routes, and we will now have 13 operational buses to serve them," the Minister said.

He noted that there are many other staff benefits which are being looked at for upgrading and expansion, and cited the government’s loan scheme for the purchasing of motor vehicles.

"When that scheme was launched, the price of a new car may have been under $2 million. A new car is now well over $2 million, so there is need to increase that fund so that those who access the benefits can get a larger amount towards the purchase of cars. Clearly there are fiscal constraints, but I believe that we can come up with a programme to look at the upgrading of staff benefits for the public sector,” he said.

For his part, Minister of Transport and Works, Hon. Michael Henry, said the transportation of people in comfort is of critical importance. “I hope those who travel on the buses will respect the value of the transport cost to the country,” he added.

Chief Technical Director, Public Service Establishment Division, Office of the Cabinet, Dennis Townsend, noted that there is a high demand for the services provided.

He informed that public servants, who use the service, pay a subsidised fee, adding that one of the many benefits derived is that it creates an atmosphere for productivity while ensuring punctuality.

"We did a survey some time ago and we found that the satisfaction level was very high, the staff appreciated the service and they even wanted it to be more extensive in terms of reach and the number of persons who can access this service," he said.

In his remarks, Managing Director, JUTC, Paul Abrahams, said the company is very pleased to be in a position to assist in providing transportation for public sector workers.

For his part, President, Jamaica Civil Service Association, Oniel Grant, said the service helps to relieve the pressure on the public system, especially in dense urban areas, adding that the continued development of the programme is of utmost importance.

The project commenced in 1996 and is now being managed by Bloomfield Jamaica Limited.

                                                                       

By Chris Patterson, JIS Reporter