Saturday 4 April, 2020

Mikhail Phillips says JUTC in breach of its licence

Mikhail Phillips

Mikhail Phillips

Opposition Spokesman on Transport and Works, Mikhail Phillips has accused the management of the state-run Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) of being in breach of its exclusive licence which mandates that the bus company maintains a certain number of buses on the roads each day.

Phillips made the accusation while making his contribution to the Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives on Tuesday.

He noted that the JUTC which celebrates 20 years as an organisation this year “has been suffering losses over the years due to organizational and financial weaknesses.”

Phillips described the projection by the bus company that it would operate a high of 425 buses per day and an average of 416 per day during the current financial year as a “pipe dream.”

“Since February of this year, the operation has fallen to 388 buses (per day) and based on the approved budget the targets are unlikely as there is neither a plan to inject any new buses in the operation nor an approved capital budget to refurbish any buses,” the opposition spokesman asserted.

“At that level Mr Speaker, the company is in default as it is operating in breach of its exclusive licence granted by the government under the Public Passenger Transport Corporate Area Act,” Phillips added.

He listed several questions which he said were for the attention of the Minister of Transport, Robert Montague. Among the questions are:

  • How does the company plan to achieve the bus run out targeted in the 2018/19 budget?
  • Is the engineering department equipped to manage the maintenance of these buses?
  • Is there any plans to outsource the maintenance of buses
  • What is the mechanic to bus ratio currently at the JUTC
  • Is the issue of the timely delivery of spare) parts resolved
  • With a reported parts inventory of $900 million why isn’t there enough spare parts to adequately maintain the buses.
  • Is there a plan to outsource accident investigations and what is the cost
  • Why is it necessary to be buying tyres from private companies when the JUTC owns the Jamaica Ultimate Tyre Company.

Meanwhile, Phillips stated that the most significant operational challenge being faced by the state-run company is the proliferation of unlicensed taxis and bus operators on its main routes.

He also noted that annual ridership on JUTC buses has fallen from a high of 96.4 million in 2001/2002 “to an extremely low of 49 million in 2008/2009, recovering to just over 60 million in the last PNP administration but is now declining again.” Phillips said ridership on JUTC buses in 2017 was just under 50 million. He said the company cannot be viable with these numbers.

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