Mon | Aug 20, 2018

LETTER OF THE DAY - Bring back patty-pan buses

Published:Friday | August 22, 2014 | 12:00 AM

The Editor, Sir:

Do you remember the patty-pan buses? Crowded with passengers, bags and baskets of food produce and, believe it or not, sometimes farm animals! Well, we got where we were going, because at least there was a schedule, whether it was one or two hours apart. In-between, we walked.

From the patty pan, years later, we have been reduced to a transportation system that is far less efficient. My experiences with the Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) have been no less than traumatic, what with the absence of schedules, the arbitrary removal of buses from routes, putting an 'X' on the buses and charging extra above the approved fares and the continued employment of inefficient and unproductive workers.

Recently, after waiting for almost an hour for a bus, I asked a JUTC employee what was causing the delay (not that this is unusual). I was nonchalantly advised that there was only one bus on the route because school is on holiday and "the working people is not a lot". So since then, most of the passengers who take that bus have been walking from Half-Way Tree Road to New Kingston.

I informed the gentleman that this was disrespectful and inconsiderate, as there was no communication with the passengers and no alternative arrangements put in place. I recommended that the route be combined with one that travels within the same vicinity (since apparently the issue was a cost factor, which I have no problem with). He told me to talk to the people upstairs or call the radio station. I rest my case.

And like clockwork, this inefficient entity is again seeking another fare increase, a year after receiving an increase and reneging on the promises it made of improved service, among other things.

I need not reiterate the cry of many of us workers, public-sector and otherwise - there has been no pay increase since 2009. From a personal standpoint, there is absolutely no more cutting that I can do. I recently had to make a very heart-rending decision to move my child to a new school in September. This was made even harder because this is his GSAT year. This, all because of limited resources.

Sixty dollars to a 75-year-old who is getting an NIS pension of $1,500 per month is significant. It means additional bus fare to pick up the pension cheque from the post office, to go to the doctor, to go to pay the light bill, etc., and much less to purchase food and medication.

The JUTC needs to get its act together, revisit its management and operational structure and find ways to reduce cost and inefficiency in areas such as staffing, maintenance, pilferage (of gas, etc), and proper scheduling of buses. And if all else fails, sell the company and stop milking the public.

Bring back the patty pans; they are smaller and can be used in off-peak hours or when "school is on holiday".