Jamaica Gov’ to procure nearly 200 electric buses

Jamaica’s state-owned public transit company JUTC will see 200 electric buses joining their fleet over the next three years. Minister of Finance Dr Nigel Clarke announced as much when he opened the budget debate this week.

The new electric buses will join 70 e-buses already procured for the Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC). However, this time, the Jamaican Government is positive it will not require a loan to pay for the vehicles.

“In previous years, we borrowed money for these kinds of programmes,” said Clarke in the House of Representatives. “This time around, speaking on behalf of all Jamaicans about this $40 billion [spend]: ‘Ah fi wi money dis!’,” the Minister said, also in patois.

The plans see 100 buses delivered in 2024/25 and 100 in 2025/26. Clarke said these are in addition to the 70 buses already procured for delivery early in the 2023/24 financial year.

The Minister added it was a matter “of grave concern” that the JUTC has so far been unable to fulfil its mandate to provide 31,000 seats per day to commuters within the Kingston Metropolitan Transport Region. The JUTC must dispatch between 450 and 500 buses daily to meet this demand.

“The current JUTC budget assumes an average daily bus deployment of less than 200 buses. Of the total JUTC fleet, more than half are over ten years old and due to be retired immediately. Consequently, the maintenance and operating costs are very high, supported by increasing levels of subvention from the Government, which will reach a record high of over $7 billion in the 2023/2024 financial year,” Clarke noted.

While not explicitly mentioned, the Government may expect cost savings from transitioning to a zero-emission fleet.

There has also been no mention of manufacturers supplying the e-buses. However, the JUTC has previously worked with Volvo and Golden Dragon. The Chinese company delivered Jamaica’s first electric bus to the JUTC in January of this year, a 35-seater. The Prime Minister of Jamaica, Andrew Holness, attended the handover. He said they had started the transition a few years ago by introducing compressed natural gas buses and were now moving to electric buses. “Electric buses offer a great deal of advantages, environmental advantages, practically no emissions, low maintenance, and it takes away the theft of fuel,” Prime Minister Holness said.

jamaicaobserver.com, jamaica.loopnews.com, jutc.gov.jm (First bus arrives)


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