The Government will be spending approximately US$6.4 million to acquire 50 buses to increase the Jamaica Urban Transit Company’s (JUTC) fleet.
Of the total, 45 will be diesel buses valued at US$5,400,000, while the remaining five will be electric buses valuing US$1,085,000.
The vehicles are expected to be delivered between six and nine months, commencing in the last quarter of calendar year 2022, and will be placed in the Kingston Metropolitan Transport Region (KMTR).
Minister of Transport and Mining Audley Shaw; Managing Director, JR Wellington Import and Export Limited, Rennie Wellington; Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Dr Alwin Hales; and acting Chief Technical Director, Dawn Smith Fagan, signed the contract to procure the buses, at the ministry’s Maxfield Avenue offices in St Andrew on Tuesday, May 31.
Minister Shaw, in his remarks, said it is expected that the newer diesel buses will have better fuel efficiency and lower carbon footprint per passenger trip than the aged buses of older technology.
He noted that the acquisition of the five electric vehicles “serves as part of the Government’s thrust towards contributing to greener, cleaner and cheaper transportation”.
He said that electromobility is becoming more important for road transportation, in the interest of climate change mitigation, reduced air pollution and decreased dependence on foreign oil.
“The electric buses procured today and to be supplied later in the year will, indeed, have the greatest impact on the environment… and public health. There are other savings in oil to be gained, as well as to reduce our carbon footprint in Jamaica and, in turn, reduce the costs for the public transportation sector,” he pointed out.
Three charging stations will be built to power the buses, and the minister said that in time, “given the success of these buses, we will expand both buses and charging stations. The possibility also exists that other entities may utilise these charging stations as we build them out”.
The 50 buses are in addition to another 20 12-metre Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) buses to the acquired under the expansion of the Natural Gas Project, in partnership with the New Fortress Energy Company Limited.
“We are moving forward with discussions, and I am optimistic that we will soon be able to add these additional buses to the fleet as well,” Minister Shaw said.
He noted that the Government is pursuing the use of a diversified fuelled fleet as part of an integrated approach to enhance the efficiency of the JUTC.
He noted that, in addition to the use of electric and CNG-powered buses, the JUTC would commence testing the use of biodiesel with a view to expanding to the full complement of diesel-operated units in the fleet.
He urged commuters and operators alike to take care of the buses so they can benefit everyone.
“Do not litter or deface the buses and do not vandalise them. The ministry is fulfilling its responsibility of providing these buses, so we must all ensure that [they] are taken care of so they last,” he said.
Wellington, who will deliver the buses, said he is pleased to contribute to the creation of a First-World transport system in Jamaica.