Public transportation in the Kingston Metropolitan Transport Region (KMTR) should be eased in the not too distant future with the order of 200 new electronic buses (e-buses) to compliment the 70 buses that are currently on order for Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC).
This is expected to be a big boost for the JUTC’s ailing bus fleet that services public transportation in KMTR and some sections of Jamaica’s second city of Montego Bay in St. James. The order of the new buses follows a trial run earlier this year.
Finance Minister, Dr. Nigel Clarke, announced the order of the new e-buses during his budget debate presentation in parliament yesterday (March 7), adding that they will be delivered on a phased basis over a three-year period commencing in financial year 2023/24 with 100 to be delivered in 2024/25 and a similar amount in 2025/26.
At present, the JUTC is unable to fulfill its mandate to provide 31,000 seats per day to meet the demand of the commuting public within the KMTR, requiring 450-500 buses. The current JUTC budget assumes an average daily bus deployment of less than 200 buses, where of the total fleet, more than half are over 10 years old and due to be retired.
Consequently, the maintenance and operating costs are very high, supported by increasing levels of subvention from the government, which will reach a record high of over $7 billion in the 2023/2024 financial year.
Currently, the newest buses in the JUTC fleet are 5 CNG Golden Dragon buses, which were purchased in 2019. Prior to this, 35 Golden Dragon buses were acquired in 2016 and 200 Volvo buses were delivered between 2011 and 2014.
The last of these were delivered in 2015 with 70 new buses ordered comprising 45 diesel, 20 CNG and 5 electric buses. However, a critical gap still remains in the fleet, which the 200 new e-buses ordered should rectify. Clarke advised that the order of the new buses is one of the best ways to share the gains of economic reform and recovery with the Jamaican people by improving the public transportation system.
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