Transport Authority should subsidise JUTC
THE EDITOR Sir:
Looking back at my years as one of the planners in Jamaica transport system, we still cannot get it right. The Transport Authority (TA) licenses and regulates public passenger vehicles, while the JUTC moves people. In most jurisdictions, both functions fall under one entity as it is difficult for both to function independently.
I have always been amused by the constant call for the JUTC to turn a profit or, at best, break even. This is impossible since the JUTC gives away approximately 35 per cent of its revenues in the form of subsidised fares (children and elderly accounts for close to 50 per cent of JUTC ridership). The Government is ultimately responsible for compensating the JUTC for these lost revenues which it does not. This is just one of the many reasons that the JUTC will never be able to sustain itself.
On the other side of the equation is the TA. The entity has proven over the years to be ineffective and lags in the transformation of the sector.
It is my personal opinion that the TA should be made to subsidise the operations of the JUTC. They have collected fees from operators in the KMTR and should give this money to the Ministry of Transportation to be allocated to the JUTC. I know that the proposed merger to form the Land Transport Authority is to finally fix some of the ills of TA, however, it needs to be taken further to properly fund JUTC. The Land Transport Authority does not go far enough to correct the systematic ills of the sector. Very few public transportation systems in the world are self-sustaining. Transportation in most developed countries is seen as a public service and is primarily funded or subsidised by the state.
Let's stop focusing on making JUTC a profit-making machine. Of course, it should be efficient and reduce waste.