Portmore residents suffering from bus shortage
Residents in Portmore, St Catherine, who commute to Half-Way Tree daily, have grown restive over the late arrival of JUTC buses to transport them in the evenings.
THE STAR news team has received numerous complaints about commuters being stranded at the Half-Way Tree Transport Centre.
One commuter, Jovan Campbell, said he was at the centre for hours before he was able to get a bus last Friday.
"The centre was essentially packed ... no one was able to go home," Campbell said.
Marketing and communications manager Reginald Allen said the shortage of buses, which was identified several months ago, has begun to show.
"It stems from a lack of the necessary spare parts to repair buses, so we have had a significant number of buses from our fleet which are down," Allen said.
Allen said that Portmore has been affected more than any other community, because most of its residents work and study in Kingston.
"So we have had quite a challenge with Portmore from downtown and somewhat from the centre in Half-Way Tree," he said.
Allen explained that the necessary parts to get the buses in operation again are coming from Europe, mainly Belgium.
"So they take quite a while to get here. Fortunately, half of the process has now been completed and the parts have started arriving, and we expect this to flow even more between now and the end of the year," Allen explained.
He said commuters travelling from downtown to Portmore faced a similar problem a few months ago, but the JUTC put measures in place to remedy the problem.
"What we do downtown is [that we] send a number of buses from other areas at certain peak hours to reduce the build-up," Allen explained. "We put a person on the ground who would say how many buses we need, and we work accordingly."
He said that it would be difficult to apply the same tactic in Half-Way Tree simultaneously, due to the shortage of buses.
"What we really need is to have the buses ready and we should be back to full capacity by the end of January," Allen said.
Allen said the state-run bus service has been operating at around 370 to 390 buses per day - around 100 buses under its full capacity.