Fri | Dec 6, 2019

Wrapped JUTC buses could put passengers at risk - Shields

Published:Sunday | May 20, 2018 | 12:00 AMCarlene Davis
A JUTC bus carrying an important message, but the wrap around the majority of the vehicle makes it difficult to see in or out, putting passengers in possible danger.

The Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) is facing new questions about the safety of persons who travel on its buses which are almost completely wrapped with advertisements.

The issue was placed back on the front burner last week by a bus passenger who raised questions about his safety and expressed concern that he finds it difficult to see out of some of these fully wrapped buses.

"Just because I have an idea where to get off, so I know my stop, because if it is I don't know where I'm going I would be lost, because trying to see outside affects my eyes," said another JUTC customer.

Former deputy police commissioner and security consultant, Mark Shields, shared the security concerns of the passengers, as he noted that with the windows of the buses covered it makes it impossible to see inside and can make it easier for robbers to operate.

"Anything that obscures vision into a vehicle, such as a bus, creates vulnerability for people travelling on public transport; we have to make the criminals feel vulnerable, not the passengers," said Shields.

"I understand it's a safe way to travel on a JUTC bus, and I'm not making any suggestion that people should try another form of transport, I'm simple saying that we shouldn't do anything that creates an environment where criminality can occur," added Shields.

He said he has also noticed that heavy tints are creeping back into taxis and other private passenger vehicles.

"I know the police had a campaign maybe six months ago, and they said all tints need to be removed, but if you look around the taxis, they have now started with the heavy tint again. It's the same thing, you don't know who is in that taxi when you get into that taxi, or that bus. So it works both ways in terms of the passenger getting into a public vehicle and what's happening when you are on it.

"We need to remove the tints as much as we can. We need to use closed-circuit television where we can, and make people feel safe when they are going about their business," declared Shields.

But corporate communications manager of the JUTC, Cecil Thoms, last week defended the wraps, which he said is a part of the revenue stream of the state-run bus company.

"The safety and security of our passengers is always a top priority for us. We are aware of the concerns about the wrappings, which represent approximately two per cent of the fleet of 400," said Thoms.

According to Thoms, it is very safe for passengers to travel on JUTC buses as its records show it to be the safest form of public transportation.

He said the JUTC is committed to providing a service that is safe, and has been in discussions with its partners to make adjustments to the buses as necessary.

The JUTC has been implementing several measures to increase its revenue in the past three years following massive losses in the years since it was incorporated in 1998.

In its last financial year, the company recorded operating loss of $6.1 billion. It projects a slight increase in revenue this year, bar an expected spike in fuel cost has led it to project an operating loss of $9.6 billion.

carlene.davis@gleanerjm.com