Jamaican Bus Conductors

Jamaican bus conductors – individuals who assist with the loading of, and collection of fares on public transport buses. They are usually very aggressive and try to milk as much money from one trip as is possible. Your comfort and safety is the least of their concerns and passengers are very plainly objectified.

Jamaica, based on data collected in 2011, has 179 vehicles for every 1000 persons. That means public transportation is quite necessary as that equates to almost 6 persons per vehicle. Public transportation in Jamaica is not the most comfortable or convenient service in any way. At times, depending on your location, it may be difficult to access transportation and when you do it is likely to be very uncomfortable.

I remember back in high school travelling to Spanish Town from Bog Walk and back, daily. It was very challenging for students as we were expected to fin in spaces that one cannot see with the naked eye. The conductors only accepted a few students per trip as the fares were half that of adults. We were also forced to sit at the back of the bus so that the adults can get the more favorable seats. I can recall very clearly walking like an old man as I exited the bus. I usually fail to feel my legs when the bus arrives at the Flat Bridge.

When in high school I was very active. I was the deputy head boy, vice president of the chess club, treasurer for the science club, player on the chess and science quiz team and much more. I had no choice but to travel at nights. I remember making attempt to board a bus in the Spanish Town bus terminus. I was asked by the conductor to step aside as he doesn’t transport students late in the evenings. I never forgot him. It is true that students idle and leave late unnecessarily but not all students are the same. Also it is important to note that his intention was not to discipline, my fare was just not enough for him. Years later when I started University, I entered the terminus and at that point there were more buses than there were passengers. I saw the same conductor running towards me, begging me to travel in his bus. I felt the urge to tell him to absorb himself but I was raised better. These guys are simply selfish and if I am not treated with respect, Interactions with me may not be favorable.

A few days ago I was stuck I  half way tree,  usually getting a taxi between 4:30 pm and 6:30 pm is very challenging. I needed to get home but the taxis were not sufficient and when one arrives, it is ‘survival of the fittest’. A coaster bus finally arrived and I raced to get a seat. In seconds the bus was full. The conductor entered the bus and said ‘di bus empty,  nuff space deh yah, unu shuffle up unuself, small up small up’. His request was for persons to instantly get smaller! I would highly recommend that the USA import some of our conductors to solve their obesity problem. The approach of the conductor lacked all aspects of customer service. Compliance was demanded and opposition is met with request for passengers to make an early exit. Why have we put up with this for so many years? Choice is very limited, you need to get from point A to B so one just accepts what they know is “temporary”, but if we all continue to do this,nothing will change. How can this be regulated? Can they be trained to deal with people?

Despite the corruption governing the system, despite the stained name, despite the frequent stops and confined location, I think the conceptualization of JUTC is very commendable. Your comfort and safety are at least considered and everyone is accepted. Much more regulation is needed for the other public transports.

– Aldeam Facey 2015

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