Sat | Dec 10, 2016

JUTC defends fare hike request

Published:Wednesday | August 20, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Passengers embarking a Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) bus at North Parade, downtown Kingston yesterday. The Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing will be hosting a press conference today, where it is expected that an increase in fares will be announced.

Christopher Serju, Gleaner Writer

Chairman of the Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) Dr Garnett Roper is defending the company's application for an increase in fares as very necessary in light of rising operational costs to maintain the improved service delivery.

Transport Minister Dr Omar Davies has called a press conference for this morning to discuss the request for a fare increase, which, if it granted, could coincide with the start of the new school term.

But the opposition Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) has rejected the call for a fare increase and has renewed its call for a full audit of the JUTC.

"This increase is another painful assault on the already empty pockets of the average Jamaican. The Government clearly has no conscience," JLP spokesman on transport, Dr Horace Chang, said in a release yesterday.

Roper said fuel prices have gone up by 30 to 40 per cent since last year when the company got an increase. At the time, the JUTC got a 25 per cent increase on the adult fare, moving it to $100.

He said the concessionary fare of $20 accounts for 50 per cent of its passenger load.

"In addition, we use a fuel now, which is low-sulphur diesel, which is slightly more expensive. Then we have devaluation, which means that all our petroleum products have seen moves in price," he told The Gleaner yesterday.

In 2009, the Office of Utilities Regulation, which until June had responsibility for regulating the transport sector, said the the fare that the JUTC should charge in order to cover its costs should be $131 for adults, $40 for concessionary passengers, and an average of $361 for premium services passengers. At the time, the adult fare was $50 and $15 for concessionary passengers.

christopher. serju@gleanerjm.com