My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: JUTC SmarterCard Cashless System to be implemented in the Fourth Quarter of 2013 - Upgrade buses to use LPG Fuel to reduce Maintenance costs

Thursday, September 19, 2013

JUTC SmarterCard Cashless System to be implemented in the Fourth Quarter of 2013 - Upgrade buses to use LPG Fuel to reduce Maintenance costs

JUTC (Jamaica Urban Transport Company) certainly has a lot of explaining to do. They’ve had several incidents with Buses catching afire that have me so scared that I’ve stopped taking the Bus altogether. I’m terribly afraid of Fire or even getting burnt, a lot like my fear of enclosed spaces. So a Bus is basically a travelling deathtrap – hence more reason to walk most of the time!

The incidents of JUTC buses catching fire, the first one a No. 66 traveling on Hope Road in St Andrew on Wednesday September 5th 2013 and the second a No. 88 traveling along Arthur Wint Drive on Monday September 16th 2013 as noted in “Another JUTC bus catches fire”, published Tuesday, September 17, 2013  9:58 AM, The Jamaica Observer and “Second JUTC bus catches fire in less than 2 weeks”, published Tuesday September 17, 2013  11:02 am, The Jamaica Gleaner cast doubts on the level of maintenance being given to the JUTC buses.


These things do not sit well with the Public, having been hit by a fare hike on Sunday August 25th  2013 as stated in New fare increases take effect Published: Sunday August 25, 2013 | 12:21 pm, The Jamaica Gleaner. Clearly the Buses are in need of maintenance before any more increases can be demanded of the Jamaican Public. Here are images of the first Bus, the No. 66 traveling on Hope Road in St Andrew on Wednesday September 5th 2013 that caught fire:

1.      Revival of the JRC (Jamaica Railway Corporation) Passenger Train and Freight Service to Carry Goods and Services around the island as suggested in my blog article entitled “GOJ to revive the JRC Passenger Train Service - Minister Omar Davies' Cirque Du Soleil Worlds Away advises Railways and Islandwide JUTC Bus Service Not Fade Away”.
2.      HEART/NTA JAGAS Automotive School to have them thoroughly overhauled and refurbished and fully repair the Buses Engines and bodywork on contract
3.      The use of LNG (Liquid Natural Gas) as described in my blog article entitled “JUTC, Challenger and LNG - Journey to the Center of the Earth” and the use of Auto LPG (Liquid Petroleum Gas) as described in my Geezam blog article entitled “Auto LPG as a Motor Vehicle Fuel” as it helps the engines to burn fuel more efficiently.

The other recommendations seems to have fallen on deaf ears, as really and truly, the SmarterCard Cashless Bus Card System could benefit from Mobile Money to enable students to pay for their Bus fares using a JCUES or other Mobile Money Provider Service. Most of the students are Teenagers (ages 13 to 18) or younger, so the Mobile Money makers could have a feature where the underage students, parents or guardians give them a Prepaid JCUES Account with a fixed amount of Money for spending.

The Teenagers would then get a NFC (Near Field Communication) Sticker for their Prepaid JCUES Account to swipe at the JUTC NFC Reader inside of the bus or the JUTC could get a JUTC Account, enableing them with the ability to accept payments for specific bus rides. This way they can not only have their lunch Money in a cashless form to spend but it would also help to make the JUTC Cashless.

Even more upsetting is the as-yet to be implemented SmarterCard Cashless Bus Ticket System, which was supposed to have been implemented from April 2013 as reported in my blog article entitled “JUTC to debut RFID & NFC Readable SmarterCard Cashless Bus Ticket System in April 2013 - The Last Stand for a Cashless Society to empower the Multi-Modal Concept” is only now being implemented, some four (4) months later!

It’s apparently to be implemented soon, but with better enforcement to ensure compliance among the Bus travelling Public, as that wasn’t done with the original System, which was purely voluntary. Not surprising as we’re gearing up to introduce Mobile Money in order to make it easier to get the Unbanked to be a part of the Banking System as stated in my Geezam blog article entitled “JCUES Mobile Money brings Cashless Society to the Unbanked as NCB debuts Cheque munching ATM Machine”.

This is just to give you an idea of the degree of the challenge facing the JUTC to get Jamaicans to adopt a Cashless System. Jamaicans apparently aren’t embracing the Cashless Society concept of using Credit and Debit Cards or even putting their Money into a bank. Thus getting them to adopt the new SmarterCard System is going to be very interesting!

Interestingly, the JUTC is embarking on a novel idea; distributing the SmarterCards in the High Schools to teenagers (ages 13 to 17) with the option of having the student’s picture placed on the SmarterCard. In effect personalization of the SmarterCard and hereby making it the first card many of them will ever own as stated in the article “JUTC to replace 'Smart Cards' - Clarke”, published Monday, September 16, 2013 by COREY ROBINSON Observer staff reporter, The  Jamaica Observer.

This is a brilliant idea, as along with my suggestion to use Mobile Money Payments for JUTC Buses, as it’ll get the Teenagers (ages 13 to 17) and Millennials (ages 18 to 28) used to the idea of Credit and Debit Cards as well as the concept of Mobile Money and Cashless that by the time they are working, it’ll be second nature for them to have a Bank Account instead of spending Cash, thus ushering in the Age of the Cashless Society in Jamaica.

This in the process along with the implementation of Mobile Money will help to reduce the Unbanked and make it easier for them to consider E-Commerce websites and be self-employed as entrepreneurs as stated in my blog article entitled “How Jamaicans can set up a Payment Gateway in order to process Credit Card purchases - E-Commerce the main Catalyst for Increasing Jamaica's Internet Penetration”.

“Park and Ride” where residents of Portmore park their Cars and take the Bus to work and are then picked up later is also set for wide-scale implementation as stated in “'Park and Ride’ your way to savings, JUTC urges”, published Thursday, September 12, 2013 11:23 AM by Anika Richards, The Jamaica Observer, as in initial test runs it’s proven successful in 2012.

How the JUTC handles what’s being thrown on its plate remains to be seen. But to have a more efficient operation, there has to be efficiency in everything. Improved efficiency in the Mechanical Systems in the Buses in terms of the Type of Fuel used as LPG burns more efficiently than Gasoline or Diesel. Improved efficiency in terms of the collection of fares, which can only be achieved by going Cashless via a more tightly enforced SmarterCard Cashless Bus System and accepting Mobile Money Payments!

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