PAY UP! - JUTC helping private operators to collect full fares
Passengers who refuse to pay their correct fares on public passenger vehicles in the Corporate Area could find themselves having to walk to their destinations as the Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) makes good on a promise to its sub-franchise operators.
Inspectors from the state-owned bus company have been assisting the sub-franchise operators by boarding the private buses and demanding that passengers either pay their full fare or continue their journey on foot.
The Sunday Gleaner recently saw the JUTC inspectors in action as they boarded buses on Spanish Town Road, in the vicinity of the Horizon Adult Remand Centre, and conducted a fare check on passengers.
President of the Jamaica Association of Taxi Operators and Owners (JATOO), Louise Barton, later told our news centre that the work of the JUTC inspectors is welcomed by the franchise holders whose viability is being threatened by passengers who refuse to pay the full fare and sometimes attack conductors when asked to pay up.
"We have had that concern since the start of the new operations when they got rid of a number of the buses and asked that we changed the colour of our buses to the yellow," said Barton.
"People take the bus and they give the conductors whatever they want to give them, and then it becomes an altercation, a problem when the conductor ask them for more or ask them to leave the bus," added Barton.
He identified the Seaview Gardens and the Waterhouse bus routes as the major problem routes in the Corporate Area.
"We have been asking the JUTC, the Jamaica Constabulary Force and the Transport Authority to help us to collect the right fare. What they are doing now is good for us," said Barton.
He added that the move by the JUTC comes out of a promise it made to sub-franchise operators to assist them to collect the full adult fare of $100.
Last week, bus conductors and operators at the West Kingston Transport Terminus in downtown Kingston also endorsed the moved of the JUTC, even as some expressed concern that the passengers who refuse to pay the full fare are made to leave the buses in some crime-prone areas.
"You have some people who don't feel like they must pay their $100 go downtown because is just downtown they are going. Some of them feel like them must give you anything them feel like. Some come with $80, some come with $50," said Kemar Waul, a bus conductor.
According to Waul, he was attacked twice by men who insisted that they would not pay their full fares.
But Waul expressed worry about the areas the commuters would have to pass to get to their destinations and he received some support from the JATOO president.
"I don't advocate putting off passengers in the middle of nowhere or in dangerous areas. I don't advocate that. But passengers must be forced to pay the correct fare," said Barton.
"When we don't collect the exact fare you end up with vehicles that are not as good as they should be because we don't have the money to replace them," added Barton.
Late last week, Clinton Clarke, JUTC's marketing and communications manager, defended the company's action.
"These are our sub-franchise operators and people pay as they enter our buses so nothing is wrong with what the inspectors are doing.
"There is a principle that when you go on buses you pay as you enter and you collect your ticket and I think that is basically what that is. Our people being involved in it are simply a means by which we try to keep a tab on what is going on in the system," said Clarke.