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Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) passengers may soon have to pay more, as the company is in the process of applying for a fare increase.

The increase is expected to be implemented within the first quarter of the next financial year.

This was announced by Minister of Transport, Works and Housing, Dr. Hon. Omar Davies, during a press conference today (Dec. 14), at his Maxfield Avenue offices.

Dr. Davies said he was unable to provide information on the percentage of the impending increase, as the submission has not yet been made to Cabinet.

“The Ministry, based on the advice of the JUTC, will be putting me in a position to take a proposal to Cabinet, but I am indicating that it will be sooner rather than later,” he said.

Dr. Davies said the increase is critical in ensuring the continued operations of the state-run bus company.

“The present level of fares guarantees that the company will be in deficit and the remedial measures that we have had to utilize each time and over the years are not sustainable. We took to Cabinet recently, a situation whereby the Ministry of Finance would write off a significant amount owed by the JUTC, not since January, but owed over the past few years, and we are seeking therefore, to regularize the accounts of the JUTC,” he stated.

He added that based on the current rates, “a deficit is unavoidable and the Ministry of Finance is not in a position now or nowhere in the near future to continue to underwrite that difference.”

He informed that the Office of Utilities Regulations (OUR), in 2010 approved a fare increase, which would seek to address that situation, however, the full rate was not applied.

He said that “whilst we are open to dialogue on the matter, the reality is that the maximum revenue inflows at the present fare levels will not be able to provide the quality of service needed.”

Dr. Davies said the increase will also ensure that commuters, who utilize the services of the bus company, can travel in comfort.

The JUTC had its last fare increase in 2010.  Board Chairman, JUTC, Rev. Garnet Roper, informed that the figures proposed by the OUR at the time, were: $131 for adults and $40 for the concessionary fare. The rate applied was $80 for adult fare and $20 for the concessionary rate.

He noted that the figures that the company has written to the Ministry of Finance about “would put the JUTC in an operational surplus”.

The JUTC was established in 1998 to provide a centrally managed state-of-the-art public bus service.

The company offers concessionary fares on regular service routes to: children aged six-11; students aged 12-18 wearing a school uniform; seniors – women 60 and over, men 65 and over with identification (ID); and disabled persons with ID from the Combined Disabilities Association.

Also, children age three to five years old are allowed to travel free.