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BUSINESS AS USUAL

JUTC continues normal service during curfew

BY BALFORD HENRY
Observer senior reporter
balfordh@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, April 03, 2020

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Jamaica Urban Transit Company Limited (JUTC) says its bus service within the Kingston Metropolitan Region (KMR), including Kingston, St. Andrew and parts of St Catherine, will remain normal during the current islandwide curfew.

The announcement came Wednesday, the day the curfew began, in a release from JUTC Communications Manager Cecil Thoms and followed a previous release the day before announcing operational changes due to the curfew.

“This comes in the wake of concerns expressed by our stakeholders, following our earlier statement regarding operational changes due to the curfew. The JUTC wishes to apologise to its valued customers who may have been forced to make alternative plans based on the information sent out yesterday (Tuesday). The company continues to play its part in providing valuable transportation services to the public, including members of the essential services,” said release on Wednesday.

Thoms told Jamaica Observer's weekly Auto magazine yesterday that commuters can look out for the first bus of the day at approximately 6:00 am and the service will continue through to the regular close time between 10:00 pm and 10.30 pm.

However, he says that the company is appealing to the commuters who are not listed as exempted to ensure that they are off the road by 8:00 pm. Those who are exempted should ensure that they travel with their identification.

He said that is unlikely that the normal 6,000-9,000 evening/night passengers will use the service, but the management will keep a tab on the situation to ensure that it operates efficiently and economically.

The initially proposed changes would have created more financial headaches for the cash-strapped company, which has projected a net operating loss of over $11 for 2020-21 fiscal year, and a net loss of just over $4 billion for 2019/20. However, it seems unlikely that the JUTC could be blamed for Tuesday's announced changes, as it appears that along with a number of other public and private institutions not included in the original list of exemptions, it was added after the company had made public its decisions on the changes to fit into the curfew's network.

The exemption list, also added the JUTC's sister company, Montego Bay Metro Company Limited (MBMCL which operaties in a metropolitan area of western Jamaica.

However, the change to the curfew period was simple for the company, which had already announced its response to the expanding COVID-19 threat within the last couple of weeks.

The company assured the public that it had been closely monitoring the developments around the virus, and wished to share what it has been doing to mitigate any possible threat to its passengers.

According to the company to the JUTC: “Prior to the confirmation of these cases, the JUTC was taking all the necessary precautionary steps possible to ensure our readiness. We have and continue to consult the Ministry of Health and Wellness, to ensure we are aware of, and aligned with, guidance regarding travel.

“As part of our sensitisation programme, we have dispatched brochures from the Ministry of Health to inform both our internal and external publics about how to treat with the virus, e-mail and Whatspp messages as well host several internal meetings,” the company said.

“We take our customers' safety seriously which has always been, and remains, our number one priority. We have activated our emergency protocols a major part of which is the sanitization of buses. Buses are normally cleaned once per day as part of our standard operating procedure, but this will now be amplified as we introduce additional measures to sanitise our units. Here is what has been done to date:

* A schedule has been created for disinfecting buses, depots, and our major hubs. On March 12, the JUTC began the sanitisation of high touch areas of the buses and depots. The activity will be modified if necessary as time progresses.

*We have established a Command Centre that will monitor the impact of the virus on commuters and staff. We have begun placing alcohol and hand sanitiser dispensers at entrance and exits across our operations. We have procured goods to include antibacterial soap, bleach, alcohol and will continue to do so.

* Cleaning crews have been dispatched, to strategic bus terminals (North Parade and the Half-Way-Tree Transport Centre), who will clean the bus after each cycle trip. This is in addition to cleaning that will take place at respective depots. This protocol will be modified if required.

* We encourage our staff and commuters to follow the guidelines from the Ministry of Health to wash their hands regularly and to cover their nose and mouth with tissue if they have to sneeze or cough and to dispose of the tissue when they are through. We are also encouraging commuters to throw the tissue in a bin at the end of their journey and not to leave the tissue inside the bus.

*We will continue to monitor the situation and keep you updated. Should you have any query or concern, please feel free to call us on 876-749-3192(-9), visit our website at www.jutc.gov.jm or any of our social media handles @jutcltd on Twitter, facebook.com/jutcltd or instagram.com/jutcltd”.


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