Sun | Sep 24, 2017

JUTC pays out over $6m for accidents, owes close to $200m more - Despite huge accident bill, bus company says it’s not that bad

Published:Sunday | May 1, 2016 | 5:00 AMRyon Jones
A policeman stands in front of a crashed Jamaica Urban Transit Company bus on Orange Street in downtown Kingston.

The Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) has been forced to pay out millions of dollars over the last 23 months and owes millions more to victims of accidents involving its buses.

The state-run bus company paid out $6.6 million to accident victims between June 2014 and April 28, 2016 while still owing a further $184 million to claimants.

Between 2014 and March 2016 the company's buses were involved in 2,194 accidents, with 658 being the fault of its drivers while other road users were to be blamed for 1,535.

There were also 10 fatalities resulting from accidents involving JUTC buses between January 1, 2014 and March 31, 2016.

But, despite all this, the JUTC has taken the position that although it would have been more comfortable with a lower number of accidents, the situation is not as grim as it might appear.

 

LOW ACCIDENT RISK

 

The company believes that the risk of an accident involving JUTC buses is still relatively low against the background of the number of buses that the company has on the roads and the length of time that those buses spend on the roads.

"For the April 2015 to March 2016 period, the company rolled out more than 423 buses daily and operated them from 4 a.m. until almost midnight, making the average operating time on the road 16 hours a day compared to the average motorist who spends just three hours a day on the road," stated an emailed response to The Sunday Gleaner from a representative of the bus company.

"It means that the risk of the JUTC bus being involved in an accident is five times higher than for the average motorist, but the company's accident statistics do not reflect that risk. While the buses make 160,000 trips per month, the risk of them being involved in an accident on one of these trips is a mere 0.0625 per cent."

The JUTC's accident policy requires that drivers pay a portion of their salaries for repairs to damaged buses when they are found to be at fault.

For 2014 to 2015 there were 65 cases where such deductions were made from drivers' salaries, amounting to $827,999.13.

"The way the JUTC classifies an accident is also worth mentioning. For the JUTC, an accident is any collision involving one of its buses, even if the result of that collision is a scratch to the bus," stated the company representative.

"The fact is that a significant number of JUTC bus accidents are not major accidents. The figures for April 2015 to March 2016 show that minor accidents added up to 1,070 while major accidents were a mere five."

For the period April 2015 to March 2016, the JUTC accident rate was one in every 31,000 kilometres, with the international standard being one in every 50,000 kilometres.

"For all trips from April 2016 to March 2017, covering 38 million kilometres, using the international standard, the company is aiming for no more than 771 accidents," the company's correspondence read.

ryon.jones@gleanerjm.com