THE EDITOR, Sir:
Please allow me the opportunity to respond to a letter in The Gleaner dated December 7, 2013 titled 'The bus stops here', written by Nardia Grant.
First, I'm sure I'm not the only one who sees absolutely nothing wrong with bus-only lanes for state-run buses, and it's not unique to Jamaica. The Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) management, however, needs to get its act together as it relates to scheduling. Sometimes I hear persons complain that they have to wait in the Half-Way Tree Transport Centre or at regular bus stops for long periods.
That said, I prefer to take JUTC buses, so the call to boycott is out of the question. Also, I view a call to boycott as negative and dangerous, and can lead to our already weakened economy losing much more than you anticipate, as we all know persons will try to intimidate commuters who do not desire to boycott.
Second, Grant's comment about the "move to end the franchise" of the Coaster buses is dangerously misleading, as it gives the impression that the Government is ending the franchise of all Coaster buses. That's not so!
With regard to customer service on some of the Coaster buses that's another matter, as indiscipline and reckless driving reign. Do you think customer service was displayed when some of those Coaster bus personnel tried to intimidate and prevent other Coaster bus operators from resuming their services? Do you think customer service is displayed when some of those Coaster drivers play distasteful music, or play music at deafening decibels?
Rather than advocating for a boycott, Ms Grant should be asking JUTC to resolve the matter in such a way that these private bus operators will not be left out in the cold.
JUTC bus inspectors could, for example, play dual roles by also monitoring major bus stops during peak hours in the mornings and evenings where commuters gather from different areas, such as Three Miles, Naggo Head, as well as the bus stop popularly referred to as 'KFC bus stop' in proximity to the Portmore Depot, to determine what number bus/buses may be required to immediately cater to the large crowd. Your aim must be to prevent commuters from having to wait so long at bus terminals and bus stops.
A state-run bus company is good for the country. The Premium/Express buses, though more expensive, are operating par excellence. The Coaster buses are also providing a service, but the decision of franchising rests with a Government and that should be respected, though withdrawal of certain private operator licences should not be explored if you, JUTC, can't operate efficiently and effectively in those areas.
I wish JUTC well.