Illegal buses cutting in on Jamaica bus company profits

KINGSTON, Jamaica, December 29, 2008 – Illegal bus operations are leaving the state-run Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) with about J$100 million (US$1.25 million) in losses every month.

Transport and Works Minister Michael Henry said his ministry is examining the challenges and will submit a report to Cabinet on how best to effectively address the issue. Among the areas being looked at are amendments to the Road Traffic Act and a widening of the powers of arrest to incorporate other stakeholders.

“The team in the Ministry is coming up with that (plan), which must relate to who is able to make an arrest when an illegal operator is on a route. What happens now is that it’s only the police that can make an arrest so traffic supervisors can only stop you and, maybe, write something up, but they can’t really take you off the route,” he said.

“One of the things that we discussed was how we can expand what we have… making them being able to carry out that arrest,” the Transport Minister added.

Chairman of the JUTC, Robin Levy, noted that the loss being recorded as a result of illegal bus operations is “untenable”, noting that despite significant efforts to improve the company’s efficiency, the entity “continues to be bankrupt, insolvent, and ill-equipped”.

“The company continues to bleed red for a number of reasons. The number one reason is apparent – it’s illegal operators,” he said