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Government’s effort to improve and re-brand the Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) in 2005 as well as the 32 per cent fare increase in August 2005, have reaped dividends, as the bus company’s financial standing has improved.
“Revenue for April to December 2005 amounted to $1.915 billion, an increase of 16.32 per cent over the corresponding period in 2004,” disclosed Minister of Transport and Works, Robert Pickersgill.
The Minister, who was updating the media on the progress of projects being implemented within the Ministry of Transport and Works, at a press briefing on February 1, noted that a Revenue Protection Programme introduced late last year to reduce the number of free riders on the buses also contributed to this achievement.
In addition, the bus company plans to consolidate this change in fortune by improving its safety and risk management programme in 2006 through the use of technology.
“The JUTC intends to continue working closely with the National Works Agency (NWA) and install a number of cameras at key points in the Corporate Area to monitor operations and improve safety, efficiency and regulation of the KMTR. The company also plans to install cameras on buses in the coming year,” Minister Pickersgill told journalists.
President of the JUTC, Patrick McIntosh, indicated that it would cost the bus company between $2 million and $3 million to install the closed circuit cameras in the buses. Meanwhile, the Transport Minister pointed out that notwithstanding the improvement in revenue collection in 2005, several external factors, such as adverse weather, incidences of public protests as well as spiralling fuel prices, impacted the company’s revenue. The Ministry was therefore exploring strategies to counteract these effects and put the cash-strapped company on a firm footing, he said.
“Since the fare increase, fuel prices have gone up between 16 and 17 per cent. On the occasion of announcing the fare increase last year, we announced that we will be moving to address the Price Adjustment Mechanism (PAM), so that, like the other utilities, when there is an increase we take that into consideration and we don’t wait until it piles up and then there is a big fare increase,” Minister Pickersgill said.
Although the JUTC reported an increase in revenue for the period April to December 2005, the company transported some 56.3 million passengers for the same period, indicating a 2 per cent decrease in ridership over the corresponding period in 2004.