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Published:Sunday | May 11, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) bus driver Courtney Morrison pushes a wheelchair with Sophia Sutherland on to a JUTC bus designed for persons with disabilities, during a handover ceremony for 73 new JUTC buses at the Digicel parking lot, Lady Musgrave Road, yesterday.-Jermaine Barnaby/Photographer

Disabled community urges JUTC to expand bus service for its members

Andrew Harris, Gleaner Writer

The local disabled community has applauded the Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) for keeping its promise to provide some buses customised to cater to persons with disabilities.

However, the disabled community is urging the JUTC to do more to ensure that persons with disabilities can travel on its buses in comfort.

"We want a system where everyone can get on the bus without so much discomfort. We are asking that the system would be something like what they have in America, where everyone rides the bus comfortably," said Gloria Goffe, executive director of the Combined Disabilities Association.

"We are happy that the promise was kept and we are hoping that JUTC continues to keep its promises, not only to us, but the general public," added Goffe.

She was speaking with The Sunday Gleaner's news team minutes after the JUTC announced that four of 73 new Volvo buses it commissioned into service last week were configured to transport the disabled.

According to Goffe, the difficulties faced by the disabled using the public-transport system have made their already challenged lives more challenging.

"A lot of the disabled persons take the regular buses, but because of the limited buses available to us we only travel specified routes," said Goffe.

"I would like to create a little public awareness that the two front seats on either side of the bus are delegated to the disabled, old and pregnant women," added Goffe as she thanked the JUTC bus drivers for working with the disabled and the patience they show to persons with disabilities.

Goffe further challenged the Government to expand the bus service for the disabled to areas outside of Kingston while ensuring that the buses are available for longer periods.

"Disabled persons are not only in Kingston and although the buses are in Kingston, they don't run throughout the day."

ADJUSTMENTS TO BE MADE

Responding to the plea from the disabled community, managing director of JUTC Colin Campbell said the bus company would be making adjustments to make it less difficult for persons with disabilities to travel.

"What these new buses mean is that we can have a good enough fleet until we get other buses in 2015," Campbell told The Sunday Gleaner.

He said that the while the JUTC does not have enough buses now to meet all the demands of the disabled community, it would place the ones that it has on the routes where the demand by persons with disabilities is greatest.

andrew.harris@gleanerjm.com