‘Election is around the corner’ – Commuters brand JUTC fare cut as political move.

Frustrated commuters in downtown Kingston have branded the reduction of bus fares for riding the state-owned Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) buses as a poorly disguised political move from the Andrew Holness-led government.

Finance Minister Dr Nigel Clarke announced in the House of Representatives yesterday that Jamaicans will pay significantly reduced fares when they use the JUTC, starting January 1 next year. He said the regular fare will be slashed from $100 to $70; the fare for children will move from $30 to $25 and pensioners will pay $30, down from $40.

The fares will be further reduced starting on April 1. The regular fare will move to $50, the fare for children will drop to $20 and pensioners fare will drop to $25.

Clarke said the measures are temporary, adding that they are being implemented to cushion the effect of the massive 35 per cent increase approved for operators of public passenger vehicles (PPVs), and to ensure the Bank of Jamaica keeps inflation in check.

“I expect these measures to be in place for up to 24 months, after which fares will need to be adjusted upwards and returned to existing levels,” Clarke said.

When THE STAR visited downtown Kingston for a reaction to the pending decrease in JUTC fare, some commuters appeared very suspicious.

“The little fare decrease doesn’t mean nothing to me, what they should do is ensure that people are getting the service. When they lessen the fare it’s not like people can take the bus instead of the taxis because there aren’t enough buses to accommodate everybody,” one commuter said.

He added: “I am here sometimes and I stand up for like two hours before I can get a bus, and the transit company got new buses, plus what they already had. You can know when election is around the corner. It’s really bad man, so with this reduction I’m not impressed one bit.”

A woman, who identified herself only as Denise, was glad to learn about the fare reduction. “That is good! I cannot afford fare already so if it gone down me glad cause everything else high,” she told THE STAR.

However, her excitement faded when she learnt the measures were temporary and were geared towards ensuring the BOJ achieves its inflation target.

“Dem better mek it stay a $100 cause that nuh mek no sense. Dem just a go round and a trick people, and that’s why mi naah vote. A di taxi fare dem need fi mek go down because $150. Mi haffi tek it inna the morning fi reach work because mi can’t get bus a morning time, and then evening time mi wait pon the bus. The taxi shouldn’t get no increase a dat the Government fi see,” she said.

Operators of PPVs got a 19 per cent increase in October and will get a further 16 per cent increase next April.

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