JIS News

Come Monday, October 3, persons wishing to use the Premium Service offered by the Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC), will need to have a Smart Card in order to do so.
Jacqueline Darwood, Manager of Service Planning and Network Development at the JUTC, told JIS News that this initiative comes at a time when the company is seeking to resolve a number of safety and efficiency concerns.
“The premium buses are operated by drivers only and what we are seeking to do is reduce the time it takes for the passengers to board. Also, we are trying to reduce cash on board the buses,” Mrs. Darwood said.
Premium service refers to the top-end bus offering, where air-conditioned and carpeted luxury Volvo Mistral coaches take passengers from the suburbs into the Kingston centres of Half-Way-Tree, Papine and Downtown. The luxury coaches, which are outfitted with small comforts, such as reading lamps and shades also operate as an express service. Once the buses pick up passengers from the departure points, they make no other stop until they get to their destinations. The JUTC currently operates 17 buses on 15 premium service routes.
“This is almost like the First Class in the airplane. It is also operated on an express basis, meaning, in most instances when it picks up [passengers] in a residential community, such as Angels Estate, for example, it makes very few stops on its way to New Kingston. where it offloads most of its passengers,” Mrs. Darwood explained.
The Smart Card is a cashless system of paying fares on JUTC buses in the Kingston Metropolitan Transport Region (KMTR). According to Mrs. Darwood, the Smart Card is safe, convenient, and provides a 10 per cent discount for every ride and the public is therefore encouraged to get one today.
Explaining the rationale behind introducing the initiative on premium routes as opposed to the wider network, the Service Planning Manager pointed out that the premium routes result in about 1,700 passenger trips per weekday versus the rest of the JUTC network, which operates more than 200,000 passenger trips on a weekday.
“The premium service carries the same passengers every day. Approximately 85 per cent of the passengers travel daily at the same time, and they are mainly lower middle to middle income persons, who are more inclined to go to the card system than the regular passengers,” Mrs. Darwood said.
This being the case, the bus company felt that these passengers would be more willing to purchase and use the Smart Card and so the transition should be easier. On the other hand, there are some persons, who use the service on a one-off basis, and as such, the JUTC will take steps to ensure that they cater for these passengers.
“What we have decided to do is to have the drivers carry along with them, if it is even initially, Smart Cards up to the value of $200 because the maximum fare on any premium bus is $170 one way,” she told JIS News.