No new JUTC rolling stock until 2021
Despite significant costs to maintain the current fleet of buses owned by the Jamaica Urban Transit Company Limited (JUTC), the Government has no plans at this time to retire the older buses, looking instead at another four years before it acquires new buses.
Addressing members of the Public Administration and Appropriations Committee of Parliament on Wednesday, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Transport and Mining Dr Alwin Hales said that the ministry had made a significant submission, last year, for new buses.
Hales said that the submission, which was carried over from the last administration, was considered by the finance ministry. He said that the ministry, which carried out its own due diligence, "was of the view that the JUTC should not be purchasing any new buses, based on the whole fiscal space and the debt-ceiling scenario, until 2021, but they have made a commitment to provide parts to keep the existing stock rolling".
However, Mikael Phillips, acting chairman of the committee, said that $1.3 billion allocated for parts to repair the buses was insufficient to meet the company's needs at this time.
He argued that the cost of maintaining the older fleet was three to four times more costly than if the company had bought newer buses.
Hales acknowledged that the older buses being operated by the JUTC incurred significant costs for upkeep. He also noted that there were safety concerns in terms of operating them as well as the negative impact they have on the environment through pollution.
Managing Director of the JUTC Paul Abrahams told the committee that the entity had achieved a 430 bus rollout, which is 22 shy of the 452 targeted by the company. Abrahams said that the company was expected to attain its full rollout by December or early in 2018.