JIS News

Reduced bus fares for students, increased earnings for schools and the convenience of easy top up, are just some of the great benefits that the Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) is offering to educational institutions that agree to become point of sale locations for the company’s smart cards.
The JUTC, as part of the effort to boost smart card use, is seeking to increase its sale locations and has targeted schools, which account for a large percentage of overall ridership. The idea is to put the smart card machines in the schools, so that students and teachers can easily add value on their cards.
According to Gwyneth Harold, Manager of Marketing and Public Relations at the JUTC, “the company is aiming to have only cashless transactions on our buses and we believe that students can lead the way in this regard.”
She tells JIS News that participating schools will earn a four per cent commission on all recharging done, which will not only generate revenue for the schools but allow them to automatically qualify for promotions, including charters.
She notes that 40 institutions have been contacted so far and the response has been favourable. “So far, the schools that we have been in direct contact with have given us a favourable response but there are a lot more schools that we want to work with that haven’t come on board as yet, but we are expecting that as we get closer to the school year, we will get some more good responses,” she says.And, checks made by JIS News have confirmed this to be the case.
With some 25 per cent of students of the Caribbean Maritime Institute (CMI) using the JUTC bus service on a daily basis, the institution’s Deputy Executive Director Egbert Gallimore, welcomes the convenience the service will offer to the students, in addition to the commission that the school stands to earn.
Miss Harold explains that schools wishing to participate need only provide a secure and safe area where the smart card terminal can be accommodated for sales, with a telephone line nearby. The JUTC will provide staff for regular rescheduling activities, to remit commissions at the end of the month and to man the machines on days allocated by the schools.
“The only thing we ask from the schools is a secure location to sell, a time to sell and they need to have electrical outlet and a phone line because our smart card system is electronically linked to a central database,” she says.
The JUTC is expected to go into the schools in the first week of September to introduce and educate students on the use of the smart card. “Then we will work with them (schools) to develop a schedule of when we will do regular visits, perhaps once per week at a specific time that is convenient to the school’s timetable that we will be able to come in and do recharging,” Miss Harold states.
Miss Harold points out that the company will not be able to go into all the schools in the corporate area, and as such the focus is on the larger institutions. “We will only go to schools where we know we have a critical mass that makes it feasible to have a machine there,” she informs.
Apart from the CMI, the bus company has also contacted the University of Technology, with future plans to tap into the University of the West Indies student population, while students at the St. Hugh’s High School were given JUTC brochures to take home to parents in their end of year report cards.
Although there are plans to introduce a similar system in major companies, Miss Harold stress that the immediate focus is on schools.
“When we considered our marketing strategy. going for a youth market would be a very good strategy. We eventually want to go cashless and if we get young people used to paying cashless on the bus that is a great way to grow the business, and we realize there is some capacity in that area. When we have settled with the school system, we will be looking at bringing on some business places,” she explains.
So far, everything is in place for the new school year, Miss Harold notes, adding that staff is already on hand as well as the machines.
As to how the schools will be compensated, Miss Harold, says that this will depend on the revenue earned and the money will be disbursed within a regular payment period. In terms of the additional benefits, Miss Harold notes that the company often offers specials on charter services, which will see those participating schools being given preference.
But even as focus is being placed on the schools, the JUTC’s overall intent is to encourage greater use of cards and as such, will be implementing a major marketing and promotion drive between August to October.
According to Miss Harold, passengers that purchase the cards, stand to benefit from a 10 per cent discount with each ride. “This will continue even with the implementation of the new fare and if the card is lost or stolen, once it is personalized, then we are able to hot list the card and transfer the money to a new card,” she explains, adding that the smart card is somewhat similar to a credit card, in that a block can be placed on it to prevent it being used by unauthorized persons.