The Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) intends to introduce a biodiesel project and electric buses this year as it continues to put measures in place to modernise its operations, reduce costs and improve efficiencies.
“These, coupled with our natural gas project, will diversify our energy sources and is intended to cut the cost of energy,” said Transport and Mining Minister, Hon. Robert Montague, while opening the 2020/21 Sectoral Debate in Parliament on Tuesday (June 2).
The JUTC began using compressed natural gas (CNG) to power five buses within its fleet, and has constructed a CNG terminal at the Portmore Depot to fuel the units.
The Minister told the House that the bus company is reaping success from measures already put in place to improve operations.
He said that an oil filtration programme piloted last year at the Rockfort Depot for the retrofitting and supply of oil “has had a positive impact on our present lubricant bill”.
“Currently, we are implementing the second phase of the oil filtration system at the Spanish Town Depot,” he noted.
He said that the Wi-Fi service, which was introduced on an initial 100 buses in September 2018, has since been installed on more than 350 units.
He informed that over the coming months, the facility will be improved for customers.
In addition, the procurement process is under way for the purchase of 50 buses.
As the JUTC continues to modernise its operations, the Minister told the House that a Kronos time and attendance management system has been implemented at the corporate office.
The system, which requires employees to swipe their identification (ID) badge to log their time, eliminates the use of logbooks and ensures greater accountability on the part of staff.
“We intend to roll out a phased implementation throughout the company beginning June/July 2020,” Minister Montague said.
He noted that the JUTC will also be rolling out a fully cashless system on a phased basis.
In addition, he said that the company is partnering with Stocks and Securities Limited (SSL) to convert an old bus into a mobile supermarket to assist elderly and disabled customers, who are now at home due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
“SSL will undertake the retrofitting and operate and pay the attendant costs. Items from this supermarket will be sold at a minimal cost as it is not a profit-making venture,” the Minister said.
“Additionally, as part of the response to COVID-19, the JUTC will allow sub-franchise holders up to September 30 of this year to pay fees. A 20 per cent discount on fees will also be granted. I am also pleased to announce that front-line workers will continue to ride free on the JUTC and Montego Bay Metro buses until the end of August 2020,” he told the House.
Turning to Montego Bay Metro, Minister Montague informed that all statutory liabilities and trade payables for the company have been paid.
He said that the lease agreements with Appliance Traders Limited (ATL) and the Elhydro 26 Group of Companies have been renegotiated and renewed. Combined, these agreements generate $7 million annually.
“Negotiations are under way for an agreement for advertisements at bus stops along the company’s routes, which could generate income of approximately $24 million for the 2020/2021 financial year,” he noted.