JUTC expecting revenue loss due to funeral changes


JUTC expecting revenue loss due to funeral changes

Wednesday, April 01, 2020

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THE Jamaica Urban Transit Company's (JUTC) Chartered Division is expecting a huge revenue loss due to the adjustment of funeral services as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.

According to JUTC's Corporate Communications Manager Cecil Thoms, the State-owned bus company is already feeling the pinch given the fact that funerals account for 60 to 70 per cent of its chartered services.

“Since the announcement on March 16, limiting gatherings in public spaces to 20... and that was further reduced to 10 recently, we have not had any charters,” Thoms told the Jamaica Observer last Thursday.

Last week, funeral home operators explained to the Observer that, in light of the Government restriction on gatherings of no more than 10 people to limit the spread of the infectious coronavirus, some funerals are being held without the customary church service, programmes are being trimmed, and people are being laid to rest without being eulogised.

Thoms said, instead of bookings, JUTC has been receiving cancellations.

“What's been happening instead is that we have been experiencing cancellations for persons who would have booked their charter a week or so ago,” he said. “Most of our charters would have been for funerals on the weekends — averaging 20, 25 per day — but given COVID-19 and the heightened restrictions, people are now cancelling, which means we have to refund those who have cancelled with the stipulated framework of our arrangement.”

According to Thoms, a charter service in the Kingston Metropolitan Transport Region (KMTR) would cost $24,000, while requests for a bus on charter to areas outside the KMTR would attract a “little more”.

Noting that the JUTC's Charter Division is the better-performing department in the cash-strapped company, Thoms said, up to last Thursday, they had received 15 cancellations and were expecting more in the coming days.

“When that fails, it is a major revenue loss,” he told the Observer.

Last week, while detailing that graveside ceremonies have been “brief” and that homilies, normally done during services at church, are now being delivered at the graveside, House of Tranquillity Funeral Home Director Tennyson Cornwall told the Observer that he has also seen funeral postponements due to the limitation on social gathering.

Another funeral home operator, Michael Jones of Jones Funeral Home and Supplies Limited, has also had to adopt to the seemingly new norm.

“Since the coronavirus outbreak, we have funerals going as usual, but the only change is that people don't go to the church, we go to the cemetery with just a few family members so far,” Jones said.

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