JIS News

Story Highlights

  • There is some key information that parents should pass on to their children
  • Students warned against taking heavily tinted vehicles
  • Parents need to be aware of the $20 fare charged for children and students in uniform

With the new school year fast approaching, it is important for parents to adequately prepare their children to use the public transportation system.

Parents ought to explain to their children why they should adhere to guidelines of the public transport system, as this will enhance their travel experience and assist them to arrive at their destination safely and on time.

Manager of Communication and Customer Service at the Transport Authority, Petra-Kene Williams, tells JIS News there is some key information that parents should pass on to their children.

“Students should only use vehicles with red licence plates; they should also ensure that route taxis have the specified route indicated on the driver’s door, and most importantly, they should look out for a Transport Authority identification card that is usually hanging in the vehicle,” she informs.

Ms. Williams warns students against taking heavily tinted vehicles, as the Transport Authority has found that some of the activities that take place in these vehicles are not safe for students.

“Never take public passenger vehicles (PPVs) that are speeding; it is unsafe and many times vehicles that speed are not properly insured to operate as PPVs. Get off these vehicles, as in the event of an accident there is no compensation for you the passenger,” she cautions.

Deputy Managing Director of Operations at the Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC), Kirk Finnikin, also shares advice that parents should relay to their children, who will be using public transportation services on September 2, especially ‘first-timers’.

“Parents need to discuss with their children the number of the bus they need to take. This will allow them to board the correct bus to get to their destination on time,” Mr.  Finnikin says.

He adds that parents need to be aware of the $20 fare charged for children and students in uniform who use the JUTC service. This, he noted, will allow the children to determine if they have received the correct change.

He also urges parents to remind their children to retain their tickets as they are checked occasionally.

“If they are unable to produce a ticket during an inspection, they may have to pay again, as having a valid ticket is a requirement to ride on a JUTC bus,” Mr. Finnikin points out.

He notes that there are some instances in which children lose or use their bus fare and resort to either asking complete strangers to provide them with money for bus fare or attempting to walk home. He is encouraging parents to patronize the in-school SmarterCard promotion, which is scheduled to roll out in September.

“Parents should insist on the purchase of an electronic SmarterCard for their children. This allows them to pay their fare on the bus without the risk of cash being stolen. In addition, if the SmarterCard is lost, the funds on the card at the time of the report can be transferred to a new card, reducing the risk of losing cash,” Mr. Finnikin explains.

The SmarterCard is similar to a credit card that has money electronically stored on it. Concessionary customers, such as children, simply pay the cashier at the Transport Centre or other top-up location the amount they are interested in putting on the card and the card they receive will have that same value on it. He advises that if the SmarterCard is lost, the funds on the card at the time should be reported to the JUTC, which will transfer the funds to a new card.

“The card is easy to use, as all that is required is the placement of the card in front of the ticket machine and the correct ticket automatically comes out, deducting the $20 fare from the balance on the card. The JUTC will not be charging for the use of these cards,” Mr. Finnikin tells JIS News.

He is also reminding parents and the travelling public, that the guidelines from the Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing, indicate that children under three years old are permitted to travel free, and it is always best that adults are present with the children to guide and teach them, until they garner the skills to travel  alone.