IN light of complains that some of its buses are being plagued with roaches, the Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) said it will be aggressively enforcing its "no eating, no drinking, no smoking policy".
"Despite our best efforts, there are infringements," said Reginald Allen, corporate communications manager at the state-run bus entity. "Some passengers, predominantly the school-aged ones, oftentimes ignore the signs and because the buses are now operated by a driver only, it is hard for them to monitor all the passengers."
Allen said some employees also have, at times, been guilty of eating in the buses. He said this matter was, however, being dealt with internally through extensive retraining.
He said every bus has a clearly visible sign which says: No Eating, No Drinking, and No Smoking, and based on the complaints, the bus company will be reinforcing the need to rigorously enforce the policy.
"Buses are washed nightly, but this is subjected to national water restrictions and supply along with weather conditions," he said.
Additionally, a review is to be done of the existing pest control arrangements for the buses, which are handled externally. The contract for the service expires in a few months.
According to the corporate communications manager, the buses are fumigated monthly. However, if there is a complaint, that bus is given special attention.
He said road management teams comprising four to six persons per team have been introduced to the bus service, and are on duty on shifts throughout the 16-hour duration of the bus service daily. They monitor overall breaches of the company's policies, which include the no-eating or drinking policy.
"In addition to monitoring procedural breaches such as ticketing or not completing a route, these road management personnel will also have a hands-on approach to all the daily challenges," he said.
On Monday, in a letter to the editor, Alex Smirnoff wrote that he was absolutely disgusted with the condition of the JUTC buses. He said it was not uncommon to see the roaches, which he labelled 'unaccounted minors', occupying human space.
In addition, he said the air-conditioning vents in the buses are filthy, as they are clogged with mounds of dust. Allen added that the problem with air-conditioning vents often stemmed from food wrappers being stuffed into the vents.
The communications manager said while there were indeed isolated problems with roaches on JUTC buses, the problem was in no way entrenched in the system.
"For example, while I have had a number of reports of roaches being seen on buses, I have not personally experienced this in over four years of travelling on the buses on various work-related exercises," said Allen. "Indeed, checks with one of the depots on Wednesday, after a fumigation exercise there earlier in the day, revealed that none of the units that were involved were affected. But that is not to say that this applies to the entire fleet of hundreds of buses at any given time, as we do get reports about roaches on units from time to time," he added.
The JUTC buses operate throughout the Kingston Metropolitan Transport Region (KMTR), which covers Kingston, St Andrew, urban St Catherine — Portmore and Spanish Town — and a small section of St Thomas, and ply more than 110 routes.