Sun | Aug 20, 2017

Police hypocrisy on Coasters, JUTC

Published:Tuesday | November 10, 2015 | 11:00 AM


I am a student of the University of the West Indies who resides in the Cross Roads area. This makes the Jamaica Urban Transit Company's (JUTC) Route No. 78 bus one of my few legal options for getting to school.

Consequently, I have spent many mornings clinging to the back of the driver's seat for dear life, while protecting my ribs from the driver's elbow as he manoeuvres the steering wheel. However, I assure you that my proximity to the driver is not because of some uncontrollable affection.

Rather, this is because the No. 78 bus is filled, palpably beyond the legal limit. Every seat is taken and there is a minimum of three rows of persons standing in the aisle. I am incensed by this, as I know that had this been a privately owned Coaster bus, loaded beyond the legal limit, the traffic police would have immediately unloaded it.


It is for this reason that I must ask, is that which is good for the goose, no longer good for the gander? How can civilians and police alike act like these yellow sardine tins on wheels are perfectly acceptable, but punish Coaster drivers for endangering the lives of passengers?

The chairman of the Public Administration and Appropriations Committee of Parliament, Edmund Bartlett, in a statement issued last month, said, "If JUTC is to be anything other than an albatross, there has to be some aggression in terms of revenue." (Source: 'JUTC losses nearly 5 times worse than projected', Jamaica Observer.) However, I assure you that endangering lives by overloading the buses must never be the way to do so.

During peak hours, the No. 78 route needs a few articulated buses - with urgency! Currently, passengers' lives are at stake, and with more than a billion dollars in debt against the JUTC through legal claims, if an accident should happen, the prospects of compensation appear to be increasingly dim. (Source: 'Legal claims climb to nearly $1 billion against JUTC', The Gleaner.)