JIS News

Minister of Transport and Works, Robert Pickersgill said today that increased revenues needed to address the shortfall being experienced by the Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC), would have to come from the company’s fare box.
Speaking at the opening of the JUTC’s Rockfort bus depot in East Kingston, the Minister explained that with government’s 26 per cent contribution to the JUTC’s operational costs, and the company recovering another $2.287 billion or 47 per cent from the fare box, this left an outstanding gap of $1.27 billion to be filled.
He noted that this gap could be closed from one of three ways, “a monthly subvention of approximately $100 million.; by cutting back on operations, including the displacement of workers, and the other avenue is to increase revenues from the fare box”. The Minister suggested that with the shortfall unlikely to be filled from subsidies or the giving up of market share by cutting back on operations, this would leave the ‘fare box’ as the likeliest option to increase the revenues.
Mr. Pickersgill emphasised the need to address the impending shortfall, noting that since the company’s last fare increase in August 2003, the cost of fuel had significantly increased. “There has been a significant movement in fuel price from $14.07 per litre to more than $28.42 per litre, an increase of more than 100 per cent,” he informed.
“The cost of tyres has moved from $70.1 million to $76.79 million, an increase of almost 10 per cent,” he added, and also noted that concessionary fares for children and the elderly had also remained constant for several years and this was yet another subsidy from the public purse.
The Minister pointed out that the economic fare for operating a bus service like the JUTC was much higher than now being charged.
“Filling the gap will allow the JUTC to become viable, including being able to meet its debt obligations and provide a more predictable service to the public,” Mr. Pickersgill explained.
The Minister assured that consideration would be given to children, the elderly and the disabled in the increase of bus fares. “Let me emphasize that we will be maintaining concessionary fares to pensioners, the handicapped and the children. Fares will not be charged for children below the age of five years,” he said.
Mr. Pickersgill commended the contractor and workers who worked on the development of the depot. “Let me say thanks and congratulations; and the company’s workers who are based here, you have a duty to help protect and maintain this important facility,” he said.
Chairman of the Board of the JUTC, Norton Hinds in his address, called on all stakeholders to support the longevity of the depot and the viability of the company.
“This depot will enable the JUTC to more effectively deploy its buses and thereby improve its service in order to meet the demands of the travelling public. The success of this depot, however, requires the collaborative support and commitment of all Jamaicans, especially those in and around the Rockfort area,” he said.