Chaos and long delays to get Smarter Cards
Sheldon Williams, Staff Reporter
Fatigued legs from standing in line for hours, dehydration, dizzy spells, absence of enough seats, and delayed trips to the bathroom were the complaints of some commuters who rushed at last minute to get their Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) Smarter Cards on deadline day yesterday.
It was chaotic at the Half-Way Tree Transport Centre as a large crowd converged at the two distribution centres there to purchase and top up Smarter Cards.
"Mi pressure raise now. Right now me want a sweetie and mi can't even lef' the line," said 71-year-old commuter Esmeda Facey. "Dem need fi have a senior citizen line, and there is no one to talk to," she complained.
"What I don't understand, if you are just swiping the card and punching in the amount of money from the card, I don't see why you have to stand up in the line so long," another commuter, Kimesha Prince, remarked. She said she had been in the queue for about three hours and had become even more frustrated since she was only topping up her card.
"The process is just like when you are trying to get the card - long same way. I don't see the difference."
Lynval Thompson, manager of the Half-Way Tree Transport Centre, attributed the delay to the eleventh-hour rush by commuters. "If you start a senior citizen line, it will run from here go Cross Roads because most of the complainants out there are senior citizens. We tried it once and it didn't work out, so we had to just disperse the seniors back into the regular line," he said.
"They waited until their children went back to school, then they came trying to get cards for their children, so that's the dilemma we face now from all those persons in the line, and they are coming with four and five and six profiles." He added, "So when you join a line and it takes three minutes to produce a card and you come with six profiles at the window, it will take 18 minutes before the next person behind you can move."
Meanwhile, the JUTC has announced that for the rest of this week up to Sunday, the company would accept cash as payment of bus fare from all passengers. Managing Director Colin Campbell said this was because of the large crowds turning up at the JUTC offices to get their cards.
The company has issued in excess of 10,000 Smarter Cards in the past three days.