JAMAICA Urban Transit Company (JUTC) on Wednesday accused Opposition spokesman on transport, Mikael Phillips, of seeking political mileage from his comments earlier this week about the reason for the cancellation of the “Double Day” bus fare promotion.
In a release published by the Jamaica Observer on Monday, Phillips expressed disappointment with the JUTC for discontinuing the Double Day promotion for the back-to-school period this year.
The promotion, known as Back to School Double Day, but which is really for both children and adult customers who use SmarterCards, offers a 100 per cent top-up value on their cards for bus rides. The top-up amounts do not have an expiry date, and there is no limit to the amount applicable to the promotion
As part oft its programme to encourage passengers to help the company switch from a cash based to a cashless payment system on the buses, JUTC introduced the promotion in 2014. However, after being used in April this year, on Friday the JUTC informed passengers, via Facebook, that it would not continue at the start of the new school year.
“It is with regret that we inform that there will be no Double Day promotion for back-to-school this year, which you have become accustomed to,” the company said. Instead, JUTC offered passengers an opportunity to top up and renew their SmarterCards at strategic locations this weekend.
But Phillips said that the decision was regrettable as the discount has been a good source of saving for parents on bus fare for their children resuming school this week. He said that removing the facility would create more pressures for parents, and suggested that it was also a sign that the JUTC was in serious financial difficulty.
The bus company’s managing director Paul Abrahams, in a response Wednesday, accused Phillips of seeking to gain “political mileage”, by lambasting the company for not hosting the Double Day promotion this time, and for suggesting that it was due to financial difficulties.
“As we are all aware, the Double Day initiative is a give-back by the company, which sees commuters benefitting from 100 per cent top-up to encourage the use of SmarterCards. In all businesses, proper management and financial prudence dictates that strategies are evaluated and decisions taken based on the results. The JUTC did just that this summer,” Abraham said.
He noted that since 2017, the JUTC has staged two promotions, giving back millions of dollars to its customers.
“It is for these reasons that we must reject and condemn such rhetoric,” Abrahams said.
He said that in pursuit of scoring “cheap political points”, Phillips had suggested that the discontinuation of the promotion was a sign that the state run company was in a financial crunch.
Abrahams said that it was not a secret that the JUTC has been experiencing severe financial and other constraints for over 15 years. He also urged Phillips to “raise the political discourse, rise above the din, and add value to the portfolio which he now.