The new school year is just a week away, and most parents have finished their back-to-school activities, to make sure that their children are prepared for the new term.
However, one very important aspect of that preparation involves arranging for the safe transportation of students to and from their respective schools, and one of the safe options available to parents is the children using the Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) buses.
Corporate Communications Manager at the JUTC, Reginald Allen, tells JIS News that the Transport Centre in Half-Way-Tree allows the JUTC to service the needs of the student population in a comprehensive and sustained manner.
“Our arrangements for students are generally comprehensive and in fact, the JUTC offers students the opportunity to travel in an environment where there’s no difference between the accommodation for a student and others, except for guidance and a lot more care. But in the competing environment, you’ll find the schoolers being told to stand in many cases, not getting the full treatment, because it is not full fare. For the JUTC, it is absolutely the opposite,” Mr. Allen says.
The JUTC offers a range of services to suit the needs of every commuter, including express, premium, and the general bus service. Mr. Allen explains that while it is up to the parents to allow their children to travel alone, the JUTC does not have an age limit.
“We do not have an age limit. It is really a matter for the parents, but once they can comprehend and understand where their destinations are, and of course using our smart cards, it is so much easier for the parents to manage, and if something goes wrong, the possibility of tracking the movement of the individual is there,” the Manager says.
He further notes that riding on the JUTC buses is economical, compared to other modes of transportation. He recommends that parents or guardians purchase a bus pass or a Smart Card for their children.
Students from Jamaica College board a Jamaica Urban Transit Corporation bus.
“It allows parents to make an allocation monthly or weekly, in terms of their children’s travel. Just put it on a Smart Card and give it to the child. If you personalise the card and the card is lost, you can redeem that sum and it is really unbeatable in terms of the market. The JUTC makes all provision for its passengers. You have buses which are equipped with surveillance cameras and all the necessary requisite equipment to ensure safety, well-being and comfort, for a fare of only $15 (for children),” Mr. Allen says.
Whether it is getting to school on time or getting home at a reasonable hour, Mr. Allen says parents should not be overly concerned, as the JUTC ensures the safe and timely arrival and departure of buses.
“We have a standard service. We operate with a timetable as much as possible and a ride is just a typical ride, it’s not one thing today or another thing tomorrow, so there is consistency,” he tells JIS News.
Communications Specialist at the Consumer Affairs Commission (CAC), Dorothy Campbell, says parents need to teach their children the necessary precautions when travelling by bus.
“It’s not just about cost or budgeting for the bus fare anymore. Transportation incorporates the whole concern of keeping your children safe while they are on their way to school, while they are on the street, while they are within the school compound and also when they get home,” she explains.
“What the CAC is asking parents to do is to tell their children to stay in groups, make sure you travel within a familiar route where persons might recognise or remember you travelling that route every day,” she adds.
Other options for getting children to school include school buses and car pooling. School bus service is offered by some schools. This is one of the safest ways for children to get to and from school. One of the benefits is that parents get to know the driver and have the opportunity to interact with their children’s cohort.
Car pooling also has its benefits. Not only does it cut transportation costs for those who pool, but it helps decrease traffic congestion, cuts down on emissions, and perhaps most noticeably, it decreases the amount of cars jockeying for space in the pick-up and drop-off lanes.