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By Keith Archibald Forbes (see About Us) exclusively for Bermuda Online
New residents and locals should refer to Bermuda Road Transport for Locals. Please note there are no courtesy or fee-payable luggage-carrying airport buses to or from any Bermuda hotels or other tourist or visitor accommodation properties.
However, hotels and certain other properties can contract with minivan operators to collect their guests from and take them back, later, to the airport. The vehicles are locally insured and licensed 8-12 passenger vans. They carry passengers (except the disabled in wheelchairs) to where the buses don't go, by prior arrangement before arriving and on departure, to specific places. Public pick-up services are not allowed.
Until the laws were relaxed in 2017, visitors were not allowed by the Bermuda Government to rent automobiles or operate any other kind of four or more wheeled vehicle on Bermuda's roads, or bring their own motorized 2-wheel vehicles - not even for the handicapped or disabled. Why not? Bermuda's very small physical size - less than 21 miles in total land area and sixth largest population per square mile in the world, higher than in Bangladesh and Bahrain and exceeded only by Gibraltar, Hong Kong, Macao, Monaco, Singapore and Vatican City (all of which do have rented cars available for visitors). Nor are visitors, even when they have driving licenses issued by their home state or province or country, allowed to drive any relative's cars in Bermuda. Foreign drivers licenses are not legal in Bermuda. Also, Bermuda has by far more vehicles per square mile than anywhere else in the world - all of which must be insured for at least 3rd Party by a Bermudian insurance company licensed and registered to offer insurance business.
For rent to tourists and sale to visitors:
Renault Twizy, from Current Cars above. From $100 a day to rent, or may be purchased
Readily available but be warned these machines - rented (not personally locally owned) mopeds or scooters - on the hugely busy roads are not recommended for anyone who has not driven them before habitually on the left hand side of the road. Auxiliary cycles for tourists - so called because they are limited to 50 cc (cubic capacity) in size but are powerful enough to go up Bermuda's many hills. They are examined, passed and re-licensed annually by the Bermuda transport authority (Transport Control Board), and insured by a Bermudian insurance company. Mopeds and scooters can be so dangerous to those not accustomed to them that some cruise ships disclaim all responsibility and warn their passengers accordingly. Mopeds have larger wheels than scooters and are safer. The minimum age to ride one is 18 if you are a visitor, 16 if a local, and proof of identification and age may be required. Electric starting vehicles are advised, even though they may be more expensive than kick start models. They carry one or two persons. No licenses are required by visitors but all rentals are entirely at your own risk. Visitors who use rented mopeds or scooters and are not used to them incur the most common form if injuries to visitors while in Bermuda. All who come from the USA, Canada, Europe and other places will find it very confusing to drive in Bermuda on the left side - not the right - of the highway. With all the turn signs on the "wrong" side also.
But for those who decide to rent them anyway, note the following:
It is against the law:
If you are not used to the British way of driving on the left side of the road mentioned earlier, remember to
Local roads often have very heavy traffic - most travel agents overseas will not tell you that Bermuda has more cars and motor vehicles per square mile than anywhere else in the world - and too many people who drive too fast and dangerously, plus they punctuate their journeys by car or scooter or moped with drivers hooting and waving at all their friends passing in opposite directions. Avoid Bermuda weekday rush hours and the "crazy hours" after midnight and other times when young Bermudians drinking or on drugs drive recklessly at high speeds in cars or on pack-racing mopeds, at considerable danger to themselves and other road users. Main roads have been closed completely for up to 7 hours after road accidents. Many Bermudians totally ignore Government noise controls on their vehicles and illegally soup up engines on mopeds especially to make them sound as high as a jet aircraft overhead. When these vehicles pass you at illegally high speeds as well, the combination of speeds and noise can easily result in traffic accidents, sometimes severe, or stress, or temporary or permanent loss of hearing or complete deafness.
Note that in the summer months when the heat and humidity can be very high, cycling in Bermuda can be strenuous. It is not recommended for those not used to regular exercise in heat and great humidity. Nor is it serene on Bermuda's narrow roads, with so many buses, cars, mopeds and scooters and trucks per square mile all anxious to pass you,. Bermuda is not flat but hilly, with some hills very steep. Several places rent these by the day or week, with safety headgear. See under our Bermuda Employers. With bicycles you can explore much more of the fabled Bermuda Railway Trail than by walking. They are the only vehicles allowed on the Trail. They are allowed to have saddle bags but are not allowed to tow trailers. There are no country lanes for rural cycling. All roads are urban and the main roads of North Shore Road, South Road, Middle Road and Harrington Sound Road are one lane each way but are Bermuda's equivalent of interstate highways or trunk roads. To avoid holding up licensed motorized traffic, try not to use unlicensed cycles on the main roads during rush hours.
Unfortunately, in recent months and years, tourists and visitors have expressed dissatisfaction with the bus service. Visitors by air and cruise ships have described it as "now notoriously internationally unreliable" after experiencing a constant series of sudden, constant, cancellations of buses from wildcat strikes. Many tourists cannot afford more than an occasional taxi ride which limits access to the many island amenities. With Bermuda one of the very few places in the world not allowing normal-size rental cars and being the single most expensive place in the world for tourists to visit, they expect a compensatory package of a decent public transport services. They have complained about it in Bermuda, on cruise ships and overseas websites galore and on social media.
Operated by the Bermuda Government's Department of Public Transportation, email firstname.lastname@example.org - established in 1946 (see Bermuda Government Boards) - at 26 Palmetto Road, Devonshire DV 05, Bermuda. Mailing Address: P.O. Box HM 443, Hamilton HM BX, Bermuda. Telephone: (441) 292-3851. Fax: (441) 292-9996. Email: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org for charters (corporate or ships, etc. hire of a bus or buses). Buses first appeared in Bermuda in April 1945 as the Bermuda Omni Bus Service, a division of the Bermuda Railway Company. Before then the only public transportation were trains and ferries. Unlike heavy trucks imported to carry containers, which are too wide for Bermuda's roads, Bermuda's imported buses are designed specifically to fit the roads. All Bermuda buses run on diesel fuel only. All custom-built in Europe, costing well over $400,000 each. They carry 32-34 seated passengers, up to 65 standing. They are made by German/Netherlands/Belgian manufacturer Berkhof Jonkheere. There are plans to replace Bermuda's diesel buses with electric ones.
Payable by local passengers and visitors by air or cruise ship. Bus schedules are timed for operators who drive at 35 kph (21 mph).
2019. August 22. Air-conditioned buses should be a must on longer public routes, a senior user of the service said yesterday. Elizabeth Adams, 71, said she was at her “wits end” over the failure to use AC-equipped buses on long runs. She said that the buses in use on long-haul journeys “have their windows open, the driver is burning up, and the passengers are uncomfortable”. Ms Adams added: “We have politicians that are supposed to be doing their job. I don’t understand why they would have these short routes air-conditioned and not the lengthy routes when these people are suffering. It’s just wrong. Where is the mentality? Where is the thinking?” Ms Adams, a volunteer with three island charities, said that she depended on the bus service, which she often used several times a day. She added that the lack of air conditioning on some buses, combined with summer humidity, triggered her asthma. Ms Adams said: “The air conditioning does help. As soon as I walk into my house I put the air conditioning on. I stay in as much as I can in the afternoon.” She said that a “second look” should be taken at how buses were deployed. Ms Adams added: “I believe that if they are going to be using air conditioning, they should use it on the lengthy routes — from Hamilton terminal to St George’s and Hamilton terminal to Dockyard.” Roger Todd, the director of the Department of Public Transportation, said yesterday that an “air-conditioning campaign” had been launched by the department. He was speaking at a press conference held by Zane DeSilva, the Minister of Transport to publicize an increase in the number of buses on the roads. Mr Todd said that some models of bus in the fleet were “particularly problematic”. He added: “We have a programme in place to address that, as well as the older units. Our position is that if it has an AC unit on the roof, it should be working.” The transport ministry did not respond to a request for comment yesterday.
2019. August 21. Bermuda commuters have benefited from a 40 per cent boost to public bus service, the transport minister said this morning. Zane DeSilva said that improved maintenance projects had brought the average number of daily in-service buses from 50 up to 70. Mr DeSilva said the boost had led to “far fewer service cancellations”. He said the Department of Public Transportation had worked “tirelessly” to boost bus service with the addition of new vehicles and through maintenance and repair of the current fleet. Mr Desilva added: “I am pleased to report that nine new buses have entered the service over the past year and three more buses are scheduled to arrive between September and November this year.” He said the new vehicles included USB charging ports, on-board CCTV, and signage which complied with the Disability Discrimination Act. Mr DeSilva said that 14 buses were recently given a “midlife refit” that would extend their life “by a minimum of five years”. He added that another project would look to fix emissions problems with 16 vehicles. Mr DeSilva said that school bus service would resume on September 9, one day before the start of the new public school year. He said that the safe and timely transport of pupils to their schools was of “paramount importance” and that the DPT would continue to send daily e-mails about after-school bus service. Mr DeSilva said that a hiring drive had been launched to fill operational and technical positions in the DPT. An advertisement for 15 bus operator jobs was posted last week. Roger Todd, the director of the DPT, said that the new operators were needed to drive the increased number of buses on Bermuda’s roads. He added: “This compliment will help to ease some of the burden on the overtime.” Mr Todd said that work on problem air conditioners was being done. He added: “Our position is if it has an AC on the roof, it should be working.”
2019. August 6. Suppliers of low-emission buses are being invited to submit bids to provide transport in Bermuda. The Ministry of Tourism and Transport and the Department of Public Transportation issued a Request for Proposals for “appropriately sized, accessible, and low emissions buses” for the island. The RFP specifies two sizes of bus and is open to electric, diesel and hybrid diesel-electric vehicles. It comes after the DPT teamed up with sustainability group Rocky Mountain Institute to carry out a feasibility study on reducing the carbon footprint of the public transportation fleet. A transport ministry spokesman said: “The findings were encouraging and highlight the opportunity to acquire buses that meet local regulations and customer needs, while being both environmentally and financially sustainable.” The RFP document is on the Government website and the closing date for submissions is September 16. To view the document, visit https://www.gov.bm/procurement/request-proposals-low-emission-public-transit-buses.
2019. June 8. A work-to-rule by bus operators has ended, Minister of Transport Zane DeSilva said yesterday. It was confirmed in a statement today by the Department of Public Transportation, which said that during the nine days of industrial action, management and the Bermuda Industrial Union had engaged in “constructive dialogue”. The Minister of Transport, responding to comments made on a Green Paper in Parliament, said he had visited the St George’s bus depot on Thursday. He said the building had a notice posted on the door stating that it was condemned from July 2014. Mr DeSilva said the problem would be remedied within the next week. The bus operators started a work-to-rule last month, over what Mr DeSilva said was “a myriad of issues”.
2019. June 7. Almost 20 buses were cancelled this afternoon, according to a Government alert. A total of 19 buses scheduled to be released between 4.11pm and 10.20pm have been cancelled. Affected routes include Routes 8, 9, 7, 11, 10, and 4. The alert was released at about 4pm. A Transport Green Paper, which details planned changes regarding public and private transportation, was submitted this morning during the House of Assembly. It has been the first comprehensive review of transportation since 2002. Changes suggested to the bus system included GPS tracking, access to wi-fi, and cashless bus fares. For a full list of this afternoon’s bus cancellations, click here. Chris Furbert, the president of the Bermuda Industrial Union, said earlier this week that a work-to-rule by bus operators would only be lifted if two portable air-conditioned restrooms were made available for staff in St George’s. He added the BIU had made Zane DeSilva, the transport minister, aware of the condition.
2019. June 6. Bus operators will continue a work-to-rule until safety problems at the St George’s bus depot are tackled, the president of the Bermuda Industrial Union said yesterday. Chris Furbert was speaking after bus service BIU members gathered yesterday for talks as part of a dispute that has seen a work-to-rule imposed. Mr Furbert said that the work-to-rule would only be lifted if two portable air-conditioned restrooms were made available for bus staff in St George’s. He added the BIU had made Zane DeSilva, the transport minister, aware of the condition. Mr Furbert said the workers were not comfortable using the facilities in St George’s because of health and safety fears. He added: “It is my understanding that place has been condemned twice. They have to use the facility every day, that’s where they sign on and off.” He said workers were also concerned about the poor condition of the depot in Dockyard. Mr Furbert added that bus staff also wanted changes to their job descriptions and complained about radios which are not working, lack of security for cashiers, the flooring in eastern depots and roaches on the buses. Mr Furbert said drafts of new job descriptions would be available by tomorrow. He said 16 new staff members were also expected to be hired to ease a shortage of 25 staff members in maintenance and operations. The bus operators started a work-to-rule last Thursday, over what Mr DeSilva said was “a myriad of issues”. Cancellations of bus routes this week have included school services. The DPT announced a total of 46 cancellations on Tuesday afternoon and 20 on yesterday.
2019. June 5. Buses will be off the roads for two hours today as bus drivers hold a union meeting. The bus service, already on a work-to-rule, will down tools between 10.30am and 12.30pm. The Department of Public Transportation said there would be an interruption of service as staff were updated on “matters of concern to the employees” in an effort to end the industrial action. A spokesman added: “The DPT look forward to resuming full bus services and apologise for the inconvenience to the traveling public.” The announcement came yesterday as 46 bus routes, including school runs, were cancelled.
2019. June 3. A series of bus routes were called off this afternoon, including school routes. Affected schools include CedarBridge Academy and the Berkeley Institute. According to the Government’s website, linked here, 44 routes were cancelled. The move comes to a backdrop of industrial action over what Zane DeSilva, the transport minister, said on Friday were “myriad” issues.
2019. June 1. Industrial action launched by bus drivers on Thursday is likely to be resolved early next week, the transport minister said yesterday. Zane DeSilva was speaking after bus drivers voted for a work to rule after a midweek meeting at the Bermuda Industrial Union. A work to rule means that staff stick to their contracts and minimum duties. Mr DeSilva said that the drivers were concerned about a number of problems. He added: “It’s a myriad of issues — facilities at the east and west ends, roaches on the buses, and not having hot water at some facilities.” The transport minister said he had inspected the West End depot on Thursday and planned to visit the St George’s terminal next week. He added that he and Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch, the public works minister, had agreed a schedule to tackle problems with bus service buildings. Mr DeSilva said: “We’ll look at these issues in terms of infrastructure and get them sorted out quickly.” He added that if bus drivers were “confident that we will move on this, we will see a resolution”. His remarks were made just before 29 services were cancelled yesterday afternoon.
2019. May 31. Almost 30 bus services were cancelled this afternoon after industrial action by drivers was announced. The Government’s alerts, issued at about 4pm, showed a list of 29 services across the island that would not run. Bus drivers started a work to rule at 6am yesterday. The Ministry of Tourism and Transport said the Department of Public Transportation was notified of the industrial action by the Bus Operators and Allied Workers Division of the Bermuda Industrial Union on Wednesday. A ministry spokesman said then: “Bermudians of all walks of life depend on the public transportation system. We are determined to resolve this impasse and restore full service for our passengers.” He said the transport department apologized for the inconvenience. Chris Furbert, the BIU president, told ZBM on Tuesday that bus operators raised a number of concerns during a meeting on Monday. He added that the division had sent the head of the civil service a letter expressing a lack of confidence in the senior management team.
2019. May 30. Bus drivers were set to begin a work to rule from 6am today, according to the Ministry of Tourism and Transport. A spokesman said the Department of Public Transportation was notified of the industrial action by the Bus Operators and Allied Workers Division of the Bermuda Industrial Union yesterday. The spokesman said: “As part of our mandate to provide safe and reliable transportation, we are committed to meeting with the members to find common ground and work together to resolve the issues raised. Dialogue is open and a meeting is scheduled for tomorrow to address the concerns. Bermudians of all walks of life depend on the public transportation system. We are determined to resolve this impasse and restore full service for our passengers. The DPT apologizes for the inconvenience to the traveling public and will provide updates as new information becomes available.” Chris Furbert, the BIU president, told ZBM on Tuesday that bus operators raised a number of concerns during a meeting on Monday. He added that the division had sent the Head of the Civil Service a letter expressing a lack of confidence in the senior management team.
2019. May 13. Bermuda’s public bus system experienced a “learning curve” over its problems getting a new schedule up and running, the transport minister said. Zane DeSilva told MPs in the House on Friday that the decision to revert to the old bus schedule “was not taken lightly, but was the only recourse to address the concerns of our passengers and operators”. Mr DeSilva said that the new 50-bus schedule, which came into effect on March 18, had been “insufficient to meet the demands of our commuters, visitors and students”. He added: “Additionally, there were challenges with the rest times between some trips, presenting health and safety concerns for bus operators and the traveling public.” Mr DeSilva said that the scrapped schedule “is an advancement to build on as we move forward”. He added: “The ministry, unions and Department of Public Transportation have fostered stronger working relations, demonstrated in part by our ability to agree the definition of night work and collectively develop and implement work rosters.” Mr DeSilva said that the replenishment of the bus fleet remained a priority and that the average in-service bus count over the last year was up to 65 buses from 50 as a result of new bus purchases, refits and repairs. He added: “We have taken possession of six new buses in the past year, with a further six arriving between June and September.” Mr DeSilva said that the DPT had recently completed a request for information for new buses and was in the process of preparing a request for proposal. He said: “We are taking this opportunity to review the bus market and available vehicle types that meet Bermuda’s needs, as well as international public transportation standards. This includes consideration for sustainability and the environment, appropriately sized buses, accessibility, on-board features, and total cost of ownership.” Mr DeSilva said that the Government would also invest in human resources. He added: “We are in the process of recruiting for a variety of posts including vehicle technicians, operators and support staff.” The new bus schedule was first announced at a press conference last December. It was originally set to take effect on January 7 but was postponed twice that month after staff raised concerns about rosters and night work. Canadian company Schedule Masters Inc was paid more than $1.6 million over 17 years to create the new bus schedule, which lasted for six weeks.
2019. April 25. The new bus schedule is to be scrapped just six weeks after it was introduced, the transport minister revealed yesterday. Zane DeSilva said the timetable would be ripped up because of complaints about poor service and a lack of rest time for drivers. Canadian company Schedule Masters Inc was paid more than $1.6 million over the past 17 years to create the new bus schedule. Mr DeSilva said the old schedule will be used from Monday while changes are made to the new one. He said: “After six weeks of operating the new 2019 bus schedule it has been determined that the change is necessary to thoroughly address concerns with schedule trip times and rest times for bus operators.” Mr DeSilva added complaints from drivers and the public about the new schedule showed problems with service frequency and a lack of capacity and had forced a change of heart. He explained: “The reports include inadequate service during morning and afternoon peak times, over and above what was experienced in the previous schedule.” Mr DeSilva said the Barnes Corner and Grotto Bay routes will be reinstated to provide additional services to and from Hamilton. He added: “The new schedule did not provide sufficient rest time between trips, presenting health and safety concerns for bus operators and the traveling public and must be addressed immediately. This decision was not taken lightly but it is the only recourse to address concerns and safety of our operators and passengers.” He said adjustments made to the new 2019 schedule were designed to provide extra capacity, but that it required daily co-ordination of unscheduled work that did not tackle rest time for operators. Mr DeSilva added: “The reassessment process would take several months to complete and it is not anticipated that any further changes will occur prior to September 2019.” He insisted restoration of the bus fleet was a priority for the Department of Public Transportation. He said: “Further announcements will be made in due course and the Department of Public Transportation is grateful for your understanding and apologizes for any inconvenience” Leah Scott, the shadow transport minister, said she was pleased that the DPT had decided to reinstate the former schedule. Ms Scott earlier rubbished claims by Mr DeSilva that the new schedule was working and said that she had been flooded with complaints from constituents. He said: “I’m pleased that the ministry has listened to the voice of the public. I’m a bit disappointed that it took six weeks, but I’m glad they have listened.” Ms Scott added people had struggled to get to work or school on time, so going back to the former schedule was the best move. She said many of the problems with the bus service were financial and that modernization of the fleet was needed. Bus users told The Royal Gazette this month that the West End had taken the brunt of shortfalls in the new schedule. Passengers lined up for the No 7 bus to Somerset yesterday said they were pleased officials had gone back to the drawing board. A Southampton resident said that “high school kids” could have done a better job on a new timetable. He added: “I’ve been riding the bus twice a day and have for the last 20-odd years. How could these experts in Canada not know that with two cruise ships in Dockyard and this bus covering the whole of the South Shore, that running this bus every half-hour wouldn’t work?” An Elbow Beach employee said he finished his shift at midnight, but that the No 7 service had finished at 9pm under the new schedule. He said: “This is a main line for tourists and it’s the beginning of tourist season. So if they’re going back to the old schedule, that’s a very good thing. If you’re visiting the island and going out, you’ll be able to stay out longer.” Mr DeSilva said the closure of two bus stops in Dockyard was a joint decision by the DPT and the West End Development Corporation “This was something that has been talked about in recent times. It was going to happen inevitably, but we decided that we would just bring that forward because the goal is for Wedco to pedestrianise as much of the area as possible. It gives Wedco what they want; to get people mingling among the business owners before they actually get on the bus. The other thing that it does, it gives the bus drivers another five to seven minutes of rest time.”
2019. April 24. Public bus stops will be closed in Dockyard beginning this week as part of an attempt to improve traffic congestion. A spokesman for the transport ministry said that stops by the North Rock car park and National Museum of Bermuda would no longer be used effective from tomorrow. He added that all buses would now end their runs at the Clock Tower Mall. The spokesman said: “All buses will turn around in front of the Clock Tower Mall and service the bus stop on the waterside of the roadway. All passengers disembarking and boarding in Dockyard will do so at this bus stop.” He said that signs would be placed at the three stops to alert the public to the changes. He said the change was “part of an initiative to improve the traffic flow and pedestrian experience in Dockyard”.
2019. April 6. Fed-up bus users have blasted the new bus timetable — and predicted the service will get worse in the peak summer tourist season. Passengers added that the new schedule, which uses fewer buses, appeared to have hit the West End of the island hardest. The Royal Gazette spoke to Stacey Dunn, 54, from Southampton, at Hamilton bus terminal at lunchtime on Wednesday. She said: “It’s not working. Fortunately for me, I am not making early hours, but for the people making 9am, it’s tough.” Ms Dunn added: “I was in Somerset last summer and you had buses coming out of Dockyard full of tourists. What’s going to happen now if you lessen the number of buses? There’s the possibility for a lot of locals that once it comes out of Somerset, there won’t be any room.” A 61-year-old woman, also from Somerset, said she had used a bus a week earlier and that it was “horrible”. She explained: “This was a one-off because my husband was working late. I thought I would leave a little early from my job in town because I had heard how the new schedule was not working. I got there at 5pm and both the Number 7 and the 8 were full, no seats.” The woman, who asked not to be named, said: “They got rid of the express, which was very convenient for St George’s as well as Somerset. So now the lines get ridiculously long.” She added: “I have to give credit to the female bus driver, because she made the students get up to give people seats. She was complaining about the schedule, too. Who wants to stand on a bus all the way from Hamilton? So I’m sad to say that catching the bus is going to be my absolute last alternative.” A hospital worker from Warwick’s Marley Beach, about 5pm the same day said he was waiting on the No 7. He added morning and evening rush hour buses were often full. The man said: “A lot of people go into town early on this route. It’s wisest to get the first one in, because you’re not sure if the next one is going to be full.” The man added that many hospital staff came into Hamilton to catch a bus because the buses were often packed to capacity by the time they reached the hospital in Point Finger Road, Paget. He said: “Sometimes it’s even full by the time the bus gets from the terminal to Church Street.” A 26-year-old man who works near Crow Lane and lives in Sandys backed the hospital worker. The man said he had to catch a bus or walk into town at 5pm in a bid to get on board a No 7 or 8 bus because buses were full by the time they left the city. He added that it was “okay right now because schools are out — but it will be worse next week”. The Department of Public Transportation said yesterday that passenger views on the new schedule, introduced on March 18 by Zane DeSilva, the transport minister, were being reviewed. A spokesman for the DPT said that problems identified with the timetable, which cut the number and frequency of buses, would get “immediate adjustments” where possible and that “others are noted for future iterations of the schedule”. The spokesman insisted there were fewer delayed services this week and that sweeper buses had been “effective in relieving capacity issues during peak times”. The second of eight new buses will arrive on April 14, with another to follow every three weeks. The Riviera cruise ship, with a capacity of just 1,400 passengers, arrived in Dockyard yesterday. But the Carnival Pride, with about 2,500 passengers on board, is scheduled to moor at King’s Wharf for two days from next Wednesday. It will joined by the Norwegian Getaway with 3,900 passengers on Thursday. Leah Scott, the Shadow Minister of Transport, said the new schedule was “a disaster”. The Southampton East MP said: “The minister put out a message claiming that people were happy with the routes, but my constituents, particularly seniors, having been calling me upset because they’re not getting around. Kids aren’t getting to school on time and workers are having the same thing with their jobs.” Ms Scott said she suspected senior management at the DPT had contributed to the transport problems. She said: “Mr DeSilva is an astute businessman. He would not allow his own business to run this way.” Ms Scott added: “I’m glad they are only imposing this for 18 months. At the same time, I can’t understand why we don’t have a permanent schedule with the consultants we hired.” The Royal Gazette reported last week that Canadian firm Schedule Masters, which took in $1.6 million over 17 years to draw up the schedule, never had a contract with the Bermuda Government. Ms Scott said: “That went on under the One Bermuda Alliance as well as the Progressive Labour Party, That’s unacceptable under either government. You can’t continue to pay out money and, at the end of the day, still not have a satisfactory product.”
2019. March 23. The new bus schedule has 50 buses on the road at peak times but a temporary reduction in frequency while the ageing vehicles are repaired or replaced, MPs heard yesterday morning. Zane DeSilva, the transport minister, said the first of eight new buses had arrived last month. The second is expected to arrive next month and one new bus every three weeks is scheduled to go into service until August. Mr DeSilva said there will also be “real time passenger information” provided online this year. He added a request for proposal had been completed for digital payment of fares.
2019. March 12. The new bus schedule - see www.gov.bm/bus - will come into force on Monday, the transport minister said yesterday. Zane DeSilva added that the new schedule, which has taken 17 years to produce, will be adjusted over the next 18 months if needed. He said the schedule was designed to run with 50 buses, out of a potential 80, while the Department of Transport’s ageing fleet is repaired or replaced. But one bus driver told The Royal Gazette: “It’s all politics. The operators don’t have any control over the politics. It doesn’t matter which government is in power, none of them are adding extra buses to the fleet, which is what we really need. It’s expensive, but we need new buses. They want to run this schedule with 50 buses. What they are trying to do with the new schedule is to reduce the number of cancellations, and the amount of overtime, so they are running buses every half an hour rather than every 15 minutes.” Another bus operator predicted: “When the buses come from Dockyard to Hamilton during the tourist season there will be people on the route who have to make work by 9am in Hamilton, but they will be waiting a long time because the buses will be full. You will watch one bus go by, two, three. Just you wait and see what happens.” Mr DeSilva, who is also tourism minister, announced the implementation of the schedule at the Transport Control Department in Pembroke, flanked by Roger Todd, the director of the DPT, and Chris Furbert, the president of the Bermuda Industrial Union. He said: “Hard work and open communication allowed us to devise solutions that benefit bus operators and the Bermuda public, and can be sustained with our current fleet of buses.” Two memorandums of understanding have been signed between the DPT and BIU, which will allow for monitoring and adjustment of the schedule and a definition of night work for drivers. Mr Todd said: “Over the next 18 months, the DPT will monitor the performance of the new schedule and make adjustments where appropriate to deliver a dependable, quality bus service. The agreement provides for regular review of the new bus schedule, the work rosters and new bus purchases. The second MOU defines night work for the bus operators, and will provide clarity for the development for future work rosters. The introduction of the new 50-bus schedule will greatly assist in eliminating the daily cancellations that have plagued the bus service in recent years. As additional buses come on line, through new purchases and out of service repairs, we will expand the bus service on those routes with the greatest demand.” Mr Todd added: “The public bus schedule will be the same all year round except that, for the purpose of organising the bus operators work shifts, the winter bus schedule includes school runs and the summer bus schedule does not.” The new schedule does not tackle demand for late night transport after the introduction of roadside breath test checkpoints, Mr Todd said. He added: “The new schedule does not extend hours of operation of the existing schedule.” The introduction of the schedule was postponed twice in January. Mr Furbert said there had been problems with the reduction of 104 rosters down to 80, and with the definition of night work. He added: “The department and union have sat down and sorted out those rosters to a degree that is satisfactory to the membership, recognizing that we still have our challenges. We will look at the schedule on a monthly basis and see if any changes need to be made. After the 18-month period we have to look at what kind of bus schedule will we have going forward. The MOU is critical: the management team and BIU have to look at that in good faith and ensure the operators’ hours of work are respected in relation to their day-to-day work.”
2019. February 14. The Department of Public Transportation and Bermuda Industrial Union have reached agreement on the new bus operator rosters, and the definition of night work to allow implementation of the new 2019 Bus Schedule to proceed. On January 11, representatives from the Ministry of Tourism and Transport, DPT and the BIU met to discuss concerns over the scheduling of night work for the 2019 Bus Schedule; in particular, the high concentration of night work in 12 of the 80 rosters. As a result of this meeting, it was agreed that a DPT operations team comprising select management and staff would revise the rosters to improve the distribution of night work. This exercise was successfully completed to the benefit of bus operators and the supervisory team. With the scheduling of night work a longstanding issue, the DPT and BIU have now agreed on a definition for night work, and will agree on a memorandum of understanding to provide assurance and clarity for bus operators and management. This will also aid in the development of future work rosters. At yesterday’s meeting of the BIU Bus Operators and Allied Workers Division, the membership accepted the revised rosters and agreed to implement the new bus schedule. The implementation work is now under way and a start date for the new schedule will be announced in due course. Zane DeSilva, the Minister of Tourism and Transport, said: “I want to congratulate the team at DPT and the BIU for their collaboration and commitment to resolving this challenging issue in the interest of advancing the new bus schedule. Scheduling and completing the work rosters has been a challenging task, and now despite a delay, I am pleased to announce that we are on the verge of implementing the new bus schedule.”
2019. January 12. The island’s new winter bus schedule has hit another bump in the road. Fresh talks were held yesterday amid staff concerns about the off-season schedule, which was due to be introduced on Monday. That deadline was pushed back two weeks to January 21, but has again been postponed. Glenn Simmons, of the Bermuda Industrial Union, told The Royal Gazette: “We are not totally resolved, but we are still in the works trying to work things out.” Mr Simmons declined to discuss the specific concerns of unionized Department of Public Transportation staff. He added: “We are trying our best to come up with something very viable for the general public of Bermuda and our tourists, our seniors and everybody as a working class, working with the DPT team as well as the minister of transport.” Mr Simmons was speaking after he met Zane DeSilva, the transport minister, Roger Todd, director of the DPT, and ministry officials at the BIU headquarters in Hamilton. Mr DeSilva hoped any problems with the new timings, which took 17 years to agree, would be resolved. He added: “I appreciate the work that Roger Todd has put in along with the union and I’m hopeful that we will come to a happy space.” The meeting came one week after the implementation of the schedule was delayed. Mr Todd said at the time it had been pushed back to “ensure that all relevant stakeholders and the general public were well informed of the scheduling change”. The new schedule was announced in the middle of last month, when it was claimed it would cut down on cancellations because of bus shortages. Chris Furbert, the president of the BIU, said it was a “great day”. He added: “It’s taken 17 years for us to devise the new bus schedule.” The present schedule, which has been in place since 2001, has suffered cancellations for months because of the island’s ageing and unreliable fleet of buses. The new winter schedule will run for one year. Mr Todd said when the new timetable was launched that the schedule’s performance would “be assessed and adjustments made as required”. A government spokeswoman said last night that the DPT and BIU were trying to address concerns about bus rosters that included multiple night shifts. She explained: “Meetings held today between the DPT and BIU led to a better understanding of the night work issues — an area of much uncertainty and contention in the past. While the effective date for the bus schedule is no longer January 21, 2019, the 2019 winter bus schedule will remain unchanged. More information regarding a new effective date will be forthcoming.” She added: “The DPT and the BIU look forward to making necessary changes as soon as possible that will position the bus service to better serve the public.” The spokeswoman said the timetable could be viewed online gov.bm/bus.
2019. January 4. A new bus schedule has been pushed back two weeks from its promised start date of next week. The Department of Public Transportation announced yesterday that the winter 2019 schedule planned to start on Monday would now be introduced on January 21. The department said that the revised start date “will ensure that all relevant stakeholders and the general public are well informed of the scheduling change”. Roger Todd, the director of the DPT, added: “The production and dissemination of information for the public is key to this process and involves multiple entities and vendors. With due consideration for the public and the time required to properly communicate the new schedule, we are taking time to ensure this is done effectively.” The schedule will be available on the Government’s website from Monday. The DPT added that print copies of the schedule will be available at the Central Terminal in Hamilton and “other key locations” from January 14. A spokesman for the transport ministry told The Royal Gazette last month that the full schedule would be released “before the new year”. He added: “The data is currently in its raw form and will be aesthetically modified for public consumption.” The spokesman claimed that the new schedule would cost less to run than the old timetable, but could not say how much would be saved. He said: “I don’t have this figure. It will take some time to quantify.” Transport minister Zane DeSilva announced the new schedule last month. He unveiled the schedule flanked by Mr Todd and Chris Furbert, the president of the Bermuda Industrial Union.
2018. December 17. A new winter public bus schedule will cost less to run than the old timetable, a government representative has claimed. But the spokesman for the Ministry of Transport was unable to confirm how much would be saved. He said: “I don’t have this figure. It will take some time to quantify.” The spokesman was speaking after questions from The Royal Gazette about the new schedule, which is expected to come into force on January 7. A list of 13 highlights of the new timetable was revealed at a press conference last Thursday. Roger Todd, the director of the Department of Public Transportation, said that the full schedule would be published “in the coming weeks”. The ministry spokesman said that full details would be released “before the new year”. He said: “The data is currently in its raw form and will be aesthetically modified for public consumption.” Mr Todd said last week that the new schedule would be implemented “for an initial period of one year”. He added: “Performance of the new schedule will be assessed and adjustments made as required.” But Leah Scott, the shadow transport minister, questioned why the schedule would have such a short run. She said: “If there is a schedule that has been voted upon and agreed by the members, then why is the new schedule only being implemented for an initial period of one year?” Chris Furbert, the president of the Bermuda Industrial Union, said agreement on the schedule was a “great day”. He added: “It’s taken 17 years for us to devise the new bus schedule.” But Ms Scott said: “The truth is we could have had a great day in either 2014, 2015 or 2016, as that was when the last round of discussions occurred and a new bus schedule was agreed between the Department of Public Transportation management and the BIU leadership.” Ms Scott added: “However, the schedule was rejected at a vote. Hopefully, now that there is an agreed schedule, we can have better service delivery.” Ms Scott also asked what research had been done to establish the demands of public transport users. “It is hard to determine whether the schedule has been amended to accommodate Mr and Mrs Bermuda and other bus riders or it is made to accommodate the Department of Public Transportation. Good public transport should be efficient and reliable in getting residents and tourists where they wanted to go. Unfortunately, not all of those who make decisions about public transportation actually do use public transportation.” David Burt, the Premier, said that the cost of consultants’ advice to draft Bermuda’s new public bus schedule totaled $25,156 over the past two years. Mr Burt told MPs in the House of Assembly last Friday that the payments had been made to Canadian firm Schedule Masters. He said the changes to the schedule were “just step one in providing a more reliable and responsive service”. The figure was announced at the Premier’s question time after questions from Christopher Famous, a government backbencher.
2018. November 20. An all-electric bus fleet will cut costs, a American expert has claimed. Justin Locke, of sustainability group the Rocky Mountain Institute, explained: “This is not about Bermuda becoming green for the sake of becoming green. This is about reducing the cost of the transportation sector and reducing the costs in the electricity sector.” Mr Locke, director of the Islands Energy Programme at RMI, was speaking after a memorandum of understanding was signed last week between the US-based sustainability organisation and the Government. The partnership will develop a strategy to move Bermuda to an electric bus fleet “that will lay the groundwork for a full transition of the transportation sector to electric vehicles”. A second project will look at renewable energy and ways to build a stronger power supply network. Mr Locke said that capital investment for electric buses was higher than for diesel buses, but when maintenance and fuel costs were factored in, “over time, it’s a lower-cost investment”. He added: “We’re not in this because we think Bermuda is emitting too much CO² — we’re doing this because the economics make sense. This is a dollars and cents move, period.” Mr Locke said that his organisation had confirmed that at least one manufacturer made electric buses suitable for the island. He added: “However, we believe there are a handful of additional manufacturers that can supply electro voltaic buses to meet Bermuda’s requirements.” He said the price tag of an electric bus was about double what Bermuda paid for conventional vehicles but that maintenance and fuel costs with electric buses were “significantly reduced”. Mr Locke said: “Your front-end costs are high, but your operating expenses are considerably lower.” He added: “The other thing that incorporates into your cost factor is that your diesel buses are some of the most expensive in the world.” Mr Locke said a move from diesel to electric vehicles was “something that needs to be done”. He added: “The feasibility of moving to electric vehicles — when we look at the whole system — the business case is there. What we need to do is fine-tune the details. We actually have a hypothesis that it makes sense today with existing technology.” He added that RMI would also look at the cost factor, including the possibility of third-party finance. Mr Locke said opposition from mechanics was a potential barrier. He added: “That’s why it’s important that they are part of the process and that they are retooled and retrained.” RMI has masterminded the introduction of electric buses in India and several US cities, as well as in the Caribbean. He said that no other country had managed to introduce an all-electric bus fleet. Mr Locke added: “If we can solve it here, at scale, not just a pilot but actually do it ... it would be a great example of Bermuda’s leadership in the world.”
2018. July 2. Bus drivers who worked to rule on the public holiday on June 18 broke the law, according to Walton Brown, the Minister of Home Affairs. However, unionized bus operators are now “talking through all their issues”, Mr Brown told Parliament. The work-to-rule industrial action, which was called off on June 22, came because of “an impasse over 12 outstanding issues”, Mr Brown said. Frustrations included ongoing maintenance problems with the ageing fleet. The details came in response to parliamentary questions from Opposition MP Patricia Gordon-Pamplin. She asked whether the longstanding contentions over developing a new bus schedule had been addressed. But Mr Brown told MPs that the scheduling issue was “beyond my ministerial responsibilities”.
2018. June 23. A work-to-rule that disrupted bus services more than a week was called off yesterday. Chris Furbert, president of the Bermuda Industrial Union, said industrial action at the Department of Public Transportation had been lifted “effective immediately”. Transport minister Walter Roban added: “DPT and the BIU have agreed to commence talks early next week to discuss policy issues that will assist in clarifying work practices, on both sides, going forward.” The DPT said it was working around the clock to restore the available fleet of buses to a normal schedule inside the next 24 hours. BIU members voted in favour of industrial action June 12. Mr Furbert said the move was the result of anger over problems that staff felt had not been tackled by the Government. He said some of the complaints — including the poor condition of the bus fleet — dated back “three to five years”. The Government has said it had met with the union about the members’ concerns. The work-to-rule resulted in hundreds of bus cancellations. Services came to a complete halt on Monday as the island celebrated National Heroes Day. The Government said 119 routes were cancelled before yesterday’s announcement.
2018. June 22. Residents and tourists yesterday vented their frustration over a work-to-rule at the island’s bus service. A 17-year-old girl said bus cancellations meant she and friends had to cancel their plans to visit the Parade of Bands in St David’s on National Heroes Day. The Southampton girl, who asked not to be named, said: “Me and my friends were supposed to go out, and we couldn’t do so. So we had to cancel all of our plans.” She said she often relied on the buses to get around — but the service was “unreliable”. She added: “It really does affect you because the timing and the bus schedules are most of the time off.” A 34-year-old man, also from Southampton, said the service had deteriorated since the work-to-rule started last week. He added the service, which he used as his primary transport, was “inconsistent”. He said: “When it’s running frequently, it’s not bad — it’s actually pretty efficient. But when it’s not, it could be a major inconvenience, especially when cruise ships are in.” But Keturah Trott, 15, said she had not noticed a difference in service since the work-to-rule began last week. The Smith’s resident said that she took the bus about three times a week and found the service reliable. A 64-year-old woman from Hamilton Parish said she rode the bus daily. She added she had not experienced problems either. But she explained that there was an hourly service on the route she used to go to work. She added: “The route that I use is not a heavily used route during the day.” Roger and Myra Harrison, from Indiana, said they had experienced problems with bus service since they arrived in the West End on a cruise. Mr Harrison added: “We were sitting at a bus stop and a lady told us that the next two buses had been cancelled.” He said the pair waited 45 minutes for the next bus. Mr Harrison added: “It’s not uncommon to have to wait half an hour. If you’re trying to get somewhere in particular and back at a certain time, you can’t count on it.” He said the couple had relied on the island’s bus service because taxis were “real expensive”. Gina Callahan, from St Louis, Missouri, predicted she and her husband Tony would spend less time at tourist spots because of bus delays and cancellations. The cruise ship passengers, on their first visit to Bermuda, said alternative transport was “too expensive”. Ms Callahan added the couple would “definitely have to be careful” about planning activities while transport services were disrupted. Mr Callahan said the bus service disruptions were “inconvenient”. Both couples said they had not known about the work-to-rule before they were approached by The Royal Gazette. A tourist couple from Maine, who were at the Hamilton bus station, said they were forced to change their plans on Tuesday after a bus failed to show up. The woman said: “We caught a cab instead.” Her husband added the pair had waited for “at least” a half-hour before they decided to take a taxi. But the man said Tuesday’s experience had not dissuaded them from using the buses. He explained: “We just adjust.” The Government announced yesterday that 65 morning bus routes had been cancelled. Another 110 routes were cancelled in the afternoon and evening.
2018. May 29. Two of four new buses expected to bolster the island’s ageing public transport fleet are on the roads. A Government spokesman acknowledged the increase of bus cancellations in recent weeks. Walter Roban, Minister of Transport and Regulatory Affairs, was asked about the status of the four new buses through the Department of Communications last week. In a response this morning, a spokesman said: “Two buses are on island and in service. The Department of Public Transport is consulting with the plant to reconfirm delivery dates for the remaining two buses.” The spokesman said the department was able to maintain a “reasonably satisfactory” number of buses in service over the winter, and there had been “relatively fewer” cancellations. But he added: “Unfortunately, cancellations have become more frequent in recent times, as the fleet continues to age. Wear and tear can generally account for the reduction in ‘in service’ buses.” The spokesman said the DPT is in the “early stages” of a plan to overhaul the 2009 series of buses with new transmissions, differentials and engines in an effort to reduce future cancellations. He said: “These parts have been ordered and when shipping dates are confirmed, DPT will be prepping the buses and working with MAN to schedule technicians to be on island to carry out the work. As in the past, we will use the opportunity to have DPT technicians work alongside the MAN technicians so that there is an exchange of information and knowledge.” Mr Roban announced that the first of four new buses had arrived on island on January 15. He said at the time that three more were “expected within the next four months”. The island has been hit by waves of bus cancellations since then. Chris Furbert, president of the Bermuda Industrial Union, last week said that bus drivers were upset with the condition of the bus fleet and concerned about the management team’s attitude towards the collective bargaining agreement with unionized staff. Mr Furbert was speaking after a meeting called by the BIU disrupted bus service on Thursday. Mr Roban said in January that “a substantial improvement in the status quo” for the bus service was expected in the “weeks and months ahead”. He added the new buses were being built to a “new standard of specification” suited to Bermuda conditions. Mr Roban said that the Government had also begun to “overhaul a number of the buses already on the island to breathe new life into them”. Mr Roban pegged the cost of the four new vehicles at more than $1 million, not including shipping and duty, in March. David Burt, the Premier, pledged $3 million to help improve the island’s battered bus fleet in the Budget Statement in February. Mr Burt said the $3 million would be used to buy eight new buses. Bus cancellations have been upwards of 90 routes on some days in recent weeks, including school bus routes.
2018. February 17. Premier David Burt has pledged $3 million to help bolster Bermuda’s battered bus fleet. The Premier and Minister of Finance said during his Budget Statement: “Rebuilding the bus fleet is a priority for this Government as we support public transport.” He said the $3 million would be used to purchase eight new buses. The money formed part of $64.2 million promised to the Ministry of Transport and Regulatory Affairs. Mr Burt said the funds would ensure the island “can have a reliable public transportation system on land and sea”. Transport minister Walter Roban told The Royal Gazette that he would answer questions on the announcement next week. Problems with the ageing bus fleet have led to daily route cancellations amid a shortage of operational vehicles. A fleet of minibuses was hired for school runs in the fall to supplement traditional buses. In December, a government spokesman confirmed that dedicated school buses would not run when the minibus contract concluded at the end of the year. Sandys resident Janice Battersbee began exploring the idea for a carpool scheme for schoolchildren amid the ongoing bus shortage. Ms Battersbee said yesterday the announcement of money for the new buses was “a positive step”. She added: “It would all be a step in the right direction based on what we’ve been experiencing. At face value, it’s a good thing.” Ms Battersbee said the poor state of Bermuda’s buses was not something that happened overnight. She explained: “It was a long time coming to this situation, so it’s going to take a while to get out of it. Nothing’s going to happen at the snap of a finger — and you’re talking about money. We have to be realistic about it.” Ms Battersbee said she had received a few new e-mails from people “who are enthusiastic” about her carpool idea. She said: “It’s good to know that people are interested. You never know when something like this might be needed.” Mr Roban announced last month that the first of four new buses had arrived on the island. At the time, he said that the remaining three vehicles were expected “within the next four months”. Mr Burt also pledged yesterday to upgrade the island’s fleet of trash trucks to “ensure the reliability of trash collection”. Figures provided in the Budget book showed that an average of seven trash trucks have been available for work weekly. The Ministry of Public Works was given a budget of $74 million, down $1 million from last year’s allocation. Mr Burt explained: “Most of the savings will be achieved by moving Government departments from private facilities, thus reducing the Government’s rental expenditure.” Works and Engineering has been allocated $30.5 million. Jonathan Starling, executive director at Greenrock, said he understood there would be a “substantial increase” to the repair and management budget for the Department of Waste Management. Mr Starling added: “If that’s correct, then I think that’s welcome. We won’t see the impact of that right away of course, and thus the switch to once a week collections.” Mr Starling said the group welcomed the “substantially” increased budget for recycling. He said: “I’m hearing it’s a 42 per cent increase, which is certainly welcome.” Originally budgeted at just under $1.3 million, $911,000 has been spent on recycling. Next year’s estimate sets the cash just shy of the $1.3 million mark.
2018. January 18. It will take about two weeks for the island’s newest bus to hit the roads, a government spokesman has said.
He added that the vehicle, which was brought in on the Oleander container ship on Tuesday, was cleared by Customs and handed over to the Department of Public Transportation. The spokesman said: “It takes about two weeks for a new bus to become fleet-ready through in-house preparations after being cleared by Bermuda Customs and licensed by the Transport Control Department.” He added that the engine and chassis for the new bus was procured from MAN Truck & Bus Company in Germany. “It was then built by MOBIpeople, a company located in Coimbra, Portugal. The new bus looks similar to the 2014 series but has quality improvements, many of which were through feedback from DPT staff, and some, through recommendations from MAN and MOBI. The new buses have room for 39 passengers, up by one on the older models. There is also improved air-conditioning and lighting and a better bell system. Other improvements include more access compartments for vehicle maintenance.” The spokesman said members of the DPT’s technical team traveled to Portugal to inspect and approve the bus. And he added that the DPT “expects to take possession of three more buses by early May, if not sooner”.
2017. March 13. The Government will be looking to invest in greener buses, said Grant Gibbons, Minister of Economic Development. Responding to questions by the opposition during Friday’s budget debate, Dr Gibbons told the House of Assembly that an RFP is set to go out in the near future for electric, hybrid or LNG-powered buses as the government seeks to improve the ageing fleet. The comments came after shadow transport minister Lawrence Scott questioned government if it would look at electric buses rather than the typical combustion vehicles, which could be better for Bermuda’s roads and more cost-effective. “Maybe as a country we would try to set the goal of taking advantage of hybrid and electric public safety vehicles,” Mr Scott said. “We could reduce the overhead, as fuel is one of the biggest expenses of the PTB.” He added that electric/hybrid vehicles have a longer useful life, and that cost savings can be used to retrain and retool employees. Mr Scott made several other suggestions to improve the island’s bus system, including revising the bus schedule, but Dr Gibbons responded: “It’s much easier to make these suggestions than it is to get them to take effect.” Dr Gibbons said hopes of introducing a new bus schedule last year were dashed after the proposed revisions were rejected by the Bermuda Industrial Union. “There has been an effort to revise the bus schedule since 2001, 2002. We thought that we had on the table a new schedule that would be accepted. Unfortunately that new schedule was rejected by the union so we are back to square one.” Dr Gibbons said that four new buses are expected to arrive on the island later this year and Government had budgeted the purchase of another ten vehicles in 2018. He noted that in addition to the $2.5 million allocated for buses in the 2017/18 budget, money was allocated and saved last year for the same purpose. Dr Gibbons also revealed that recruitment efforts “have commenced in earnest” to hire 20 additional bus operators. “Further, internal training is under way to fill three traffic supervisor positions,” he said, adding that these positions are expected “to drastically reduce overtime costs for the operations section”. He also commented on a recent incident in which a bus carrying schoolchildren burst into flames in Warwick, saying the vehicle was 15 years old. “We have said that there is a sister bus, which was taken off the road after the incident. Clearly the PTB is very concerned about public safety. I’m sure there will be a very careful look at the safety issues involved.” Dr Gibbons was also questioned about the island’s ferries, particularly the Government’s use of the Millennium, which is set to conclude this year. While Zane DeSilva and Dennis Lister questioned if it would not have been more efficient for the Government to have bought a new ferry four years ago instead of hiring the Millennium for $1.2 million a year, Dr Gibbons responded that the money simply was not available at the time. “A new ferry would have cost $8 million,” he said. “The issue is should the government have four years ago bought a new ferry for $8 million? When the current government took over the capital funds to buy a new ferry simple were not available. We understood that we needed this transport between St George’s and Dockyard.” And on the subject of new ferries, he said he believed the Department of Marine and Ports may prioritize the purchase of a new tug, giving the existing vessel’s age and the increasing size of visiting cruise ships. Another topic broached by the opposition was the cost of revenue guarantees with the airlines that visit the island, with PLP MPs, including Wayne Furbert, suggesting that the guarantees — which can cost the government millions annually — were under-budgeted, giving a falsely rosy appearance. While Mr Furbert said he knew of one such guarantee that had cost the government more than $3 million, Dr Gibbons said that the guarantee mentioned was made by the former administration. “It’s important to point out that WestJet had been paid something in the order of $3 million. That goes back to 2012 and what we learnt since then was that it was an open-ended agreement with the former government. Now they are capped. With that airline, it is capped at $1 million.” However, Dr Gibbons accepted that there would likely be supplementals in the area of revenue guarantees as one agreement was signed too recently to be included in the budget. “The most recent revenue guarantee was only signed a month ago, so it is not in this budget,” he said.
See under Taxis
horse-drawn, they are remnants of an old
Bermuda tradition and are mostly found at near the cruise ship terminals in the city of Hamilton and town of St. George.
Carriage drivers, most of whom wear pith helmets in the summer, are required by law to have a rate card posted in the vehicle. They are expensive. Ask for fares and an informative spoken guided tour.
Horses in the City of Hamilton must wear diapers.
These are very slow moving vehicles so try not get one during rush hour traffic times as they will hold up traffic.
2018 Summer Ferry Schedule. See http://www.rccbermuda.bm/Documents/Ferry/Summer%20Ferry%20Schedule%202018.pdf
2018. July 25. The ferry schedule for the Cup Match period announced. The Department of Marine and Ports Services said that the fast ferry service would operate on Thursday, August 2 and Friday August 3: The blue route will operate on the weekday schedule between Hamilton and Dockyard, beginning in Hamilton at 7.10am. The last departure from Hamilton is 8.30pm. The orange route will operate on the weekday schedule between Dockyard and St George’s. On Thursday, the first departure from Dockyard will be at 9.30am. The departure from St George’s will be at 5.45pm. On Friday, the first departure from Dockyard will be at 9.30. But the last departure from St George’s will be at 3.45pm. The pink route will operate on the public holiday schedule between Hamilton, Paget and Warwick, starting from Hamilton at 10am. The last departure from Hamilton is 6pm. There will be no service on the green route on either day. For more ferry scheduling information and alert notifications visit www.marineandports.bm.
Bermuda ferries conform to rigid standards of ferry construction by Lloyds Register of Shipping. They meet USA environmental standards, have low-emission diesel engines, low noise, low wake, sewage holding tanks, wheelchair access, comfortable cushioned seats and a concession stand for coffee, tea, soft drinks and food.
The Ferry Service is operated by the Bermuda Government's Department of Marine and Ports. Phone 295-4506. These relaxed sea routes are unequalled, a superb sea or harbor crossing in unrivalled scenery, much better than going by bus on overcrowded and perpetually noisy roads. They are far more ecological than a bus, with daily or weekly or monthly passes included in the same price as the buses, and far less expensive than a taxi. The only extra charge is for cycles or mopeds. All places to stay, cruise ships and the ferry terminal have copies of the ferry timetable at no charge. Most, but not all, ferries have covered lower-deck seating accessibility for the disabled. The high season 2017 Summer schedule (see above) now applies. From Hamilton, they serve Paget, Warwick, Somerset and Dockyard on a varied daily basis (see timetable) and St. George's on Wednesdays and Thursdays from April 18 through November 2 only). They do not operate when the weather is too windy. The ferry service’s Green Route serves Waterford Bridge and Cavello Bay and Rockaway stops. The Pink Route is mostly used by the locals and office goers. The Orange Route ferry service that caters to St. George is seasonal - usually does not operate during the winter (i.e. mid November to mid April). There are numerous occasions during the Cruise Ship season when large cruise ships together carrying more than 3,500 passengers are in the same Bermuda port (for example, Dockyard) at the same time, for up to three days. Cruise ship passengers should note the times of the ferries especially if they wish to be back on board for meals.
Fares (for both buses and ferries). See https://www.gov.bm/bus-fares
Accessibility. Unlike the buses, ferries to and from Dockyard and St. George's (see below) can take wheelchairs for the disabled. The Paget to Warwick ferry will take the walking disabled. They also take cycles or mopeds.
The Department of Transport operates six high-speed ferries and three harbour ferries, with additional service between Dockyard and Hamilton.
Not shown is the route to St. David's via St. George's
Names of Ferry Stops
Warbaby Fox, 2006
Of the above vessels, Venturilla was named after the first black person in Bermuda, a slave believed to have spent several months in Bermuda, after a shipwreck in 1603). Tempest is named for the storm that led to the colonization of formerly uninhabited Bermuda in 1609. Warbaby Fox, so-named after Charles Hilgrove W. Fox, owner of the Black Horse tavern in St. David’s and a prominent figure in the Eastern County and Cup Match cricket games. The latter ferry has a top speed of 33 knots per hour and can carry 350 passengers. It is powered by four diesel and four water jet engines. Unfortunately, for a combination of reasons but most likely to be the exceptionally high salinity of Bermuda's waters, all the above-mentioned vessels, still quite new - purchased after 1998 - have had major problems.
Consequently, since May 2013 and presently until the end of the 2017 season, the Bermuda Government has spent millions of dollars to charter the 400 Passenger Fast Ferry Catamaran "Millennium" from Rhode Island Ferries. She was chartered to help with passengers on mega-cruise ships now serving Bermuda each carrying thousands of passengers and to provide larger ferry service from Dockyard to St. George's. She is the largest ferry to date in Bermuda.
None now. There was one in the 1990s.
None. No Bermuda hotels are allowed by government to have airport shuttles, despite requests from hotels to be allowed to operate such vehicles. Bermuda is one of the very few places in the world that will not allow this. The only hotel shuttles allowed are those connecting some hotels to their private beaches. However, some hotels and guest houses work around this by privately arranging with individual taxi operators or taxi businesses to pickup and deliver their guests from/to the airport.
The Bermuda Government created in June 2006 a new category of public service vehicle. It is known as a limousine, borrowed in name but not in style or size from limousines common overseas. It does not refer to a stretch-limo vehicle - not allowed in Bermuda - but can be a larger automobile car or former taxi. A number of limousine licenses have been issued, with some taxi drivers having exchanged their taxi permit to become a limousine operator.
Ricky's Minibus Service
Minibuses are examined, passed and re-licensed annually by the Bermuda transport authority (Transport Control Board), and insured by a Bermudian insurance company. These are not big buses. Instead, they are passenger vans or smaller buses in various sizes. Some can carry up to 27 people. Some can also carry up to two disabled passengers in wheelchairs.
The responsibility of the Ministry is to manage and regulate transportation in Bermuda, including the airport, weather services, buses and ferries.
See under "Auxiliary cycles."
See under "Motor Cycles" in Bermuda Road Transport for Locals." Not mentioned here because, like cars, they cannot be driven by tourists.
See under "Auxiliary cycles."
In order of preference
|Mode||Used by air passengers||Used by cruise passengers||Total|
|Scooter or moped||44%||16%||35%|
There are more than 550 in Bermuda.
None are Uber, much to the annoyance of some tourists and visitors.
Sizes and types of vehicle. Most taxis are now minivans which require a foot-high step-up, fine for the sighted non-disabled but not for the disabled or mobility-impaired. A small number can take a wheelchair. Under The Motor Car Amendment Act 2005, drivers of the Island’s 600 cabs - equivalent to 28.57 taxis per square mile - must be “appropriately equipped” - meaning having a two-way radio set; a mobile data terminal; a global positioning device; and an alarm device, approved by the Bermuda Government's Minister of Transport. They must be examined, passed and re-licensed annually by the Bermuda transport authority (Transport Control Board), and insured by a Bermudian insurance company. Taxis are imported at a low Bermuda Government import duty rate of 10% compared to more than 100% for some other automobiles. There are often not enough taxis to meet seasonal demand from arriving or departing passengers. For taxi drivers, the busiest time of year is when cruise ships are in port - from April to October.
Some taxis are larger than others, the smaller ones for 1-4 passengers and the largest for 5-6 passengers and their luggage. Most arriving passengers do not need to make a reservation at the airport or cruise ship terminal but if you take a taxi for sightseeing and/or to leave Bermuda from your hotel, make a reservation each time with a taxi service (there are several (see below). A blue flag fluttering from the taxi's bonnet signifies the driver has qualified as a tour guide. Residents and visitors should not plan on being able to get a taxi to go anywhere on Christmas Day or New Year's Eve. All taxi drivers are self-employed. The condition of any person taking the taxi is a factor. If drunk or disorderly or unruly, a driver may refuse to take or continue to take passengers. Each taxi has a GPS satellite-navigation system. In late 2003, they were increased in maximum length and width to 210 inches long and 77 inches wide. Limits to engine capacity have been eliminated, to make way for luxury vehicles such as a Mercedes Benz taxi. Any taxi owner wishing to replace the taxi with a wheelchair accessible one may do so without needing approval from the Public Service Vehicles Licensing Board, but they are not allowed to charge wheelchair-disabled passengers any more than able passengers. However, if disabled and in a wheelchair be sure to ask if the taxi can take both an electric wheelchair and a manual wheelchair or just one or the other. Some taxis are not equipped to take both. Rates are required by law to be the same for both able passengers and disabled passengers in a wheelchair. Most taxis use a GPS system.
There is a Taxi Owners and Operators Association. There has been debate on whether Uber, a ride-sharing network using mobile devices, or another taxi alternative should be allowed to operate in Bermuda. An Uber-style service could hit cab drivers in Bermuda or put them out of work, as it has done overseas. Presently, there is no central dispatch service to organize the operation of the 600 licensed cabs on the island. Bermuda at present has the Island Taxi Service, BTA Dispatching and taxi booking app Hitch. There has been online confusion between Bermuda’s Hitch and an Uber-style service. Hitch is a mobile app that has created some problems for some.
All taxis are inspected twice a year and owners pay an annual license fee, with no Sunday Permit extra. All are insured, with visible taxi signs and meters. Most taxi drivers are not owners of their taxis. Owners must register with a taxi dispatch company, but have a choice in which one. Taxi fares are always in USA or Bermuda dollars. A prime purpose of the GPS system is to reduce the wait time for a taxi called by telephone to no more than 15 minutes. All taxi drivers have a 2-way taxi radio. Taxis are all right hand drive, with sliding doors on the LEFT side, in conformity with Bermuda's LEFT SIDE, so passengers can enter and exit safely instead of having to face oncoming traffic.
Costs of taxis. They are generally referred to as taxis, not cabs, in Bermuda. A number of local taxi companies operate, private entities but government-regulated. In the past, their voices of dissent have been the single biggest major reason why rental of automobiles/cars was never allowed in Bermuda. Only in 2017 are some very small 2-seater only electric vehicles finally going to be allowed, primarily because of the massive global publicity Bermuda will get as the host of the 2017 America's Cup.
Credit Cards. More than 50 taxi operators have adopted credit card technology through a promotion put together by the Bermuda Tourism Authority, the Ministry of Tourism and Transport and more. Card readers are able to accept payments via chip and pin, swipe or “tap and go” technology and, using a mobile phone app, the funds are transferred into the taxi driver’s bank account within two business days. While operators would usually be required to pay a monthly fee for the service, that fee will be waived for a year through this programme, after which the operators can decide if they want to continue accepting cards or not.
Taxi fares are currently split in to two groups: For 1-4 passengers and for 5-6 passengers. Presently, for 1-4 passengers, taxi fares cost $8.00 for the first mile and $2.80 for each additional mile, based on a taxi charge formula set by Bermuda's Transport Control Department (TCD). A tourist traveling to, or from, the airport to the Fairmont Southampton on a weekday will now pay about $47 plus luggage charges for an approximately 15-mile journey. This does not include a tip, of between 15 percent and 20 percent and the cost of luggage, which is charged at $1-$4 per piece depending on size. The cost increases by 25 percent on Sundays, public holidays, and after midnight. For 5-6 passengers in a single taxi the costs are higher, $10 for the first mile and $3.50 for each additional mile, plus luggage charges. All taxis are required to be registered with a taxi dispatching service. Taxi fares are very expensive in Bermuda for two main reasons, the first being the cost of gas (diesel or petroleum), at about $8.50 a gallon in July 2014, compared to about $2.20 a gallon in July 2014 in most of the USA. The second reason is that unlike in the USA, from where 85% of all Bermuda's tourists come, the average 2014 salary of a Bermuda taxi driver is over $60,000 a year and only Bermudians, not any non-nationals, are allowed to own and/or drive taxis.
There are two major routes from and to the airport from Front Street, Hamilton and further west. One via the North Shore Road, the other via the Middle, South and other roads via Harrington Sound. Taxi drivers, who have GPS and know traffic conditions at that particular time, know which route to take to get passengers there quickest. There may be some small difference in taxi fares depending on traffic conditions. Only full-time residents who know the roads well can usually tell whether one way for them is preferred to another. If you know Bermuda well and live or are visiting a central or western parish, it is suggested you tell the driver, before you start your journey, which of the two routes you prefer.
Seat belts. Since 1 January 2004, under The Motor Car Act 1951 and Motor Car (Seat Belts) Regulations 2002, seat belts are required. Adults sitting in the front seat must wear a seat belt. Adults in the rear seat are not required to do so. Children from birth to one year and up to 20 lbs in weight must be in a rear facing seat. Children from 30 lbs to 40 lbs must be in a forward-facing child seat. Children from 40 to 80 lbs must use a seat belt positioning device or booster seat. All children are safest in the back seat. The driver of the vehicle is legally responsible for ensuring compliance and may be fined for non-compliance, but the law does not seem to be clear on who must provide booster seats or special child seats for young children. To be on the safe side, parents using taxis for their young families should bring their own. If they do not, so as not to risk being liable by default, taxi drivers may not wish to take them. Occupants 18 and older are legally responsible for themselves. Non-compliance otherwise attracts a fine of $2,100 per offence. The relevant regulatory price-approving agency is the Bermuda Government's Public Service Vehicle Licensing Board (PSVLB).
Taxi drivers will not accept any locals, tourists and visitors who wear any kind of wet clothing that could damage or stain or wet their car upholstery. Those concerned should make sure they dry themselves and their clothing and remove any sand from their clothes or bodies or bags before they hail a taxi.
2019. June 25. The owners of taxis that are off the road should lose their permits if they fail to renew them in six months, said the Bermuda Taxi Owners Association. David Frost, the BTOA president, said: “We believe that owners who do not renew their licences within six months should have them revoked completely — no exceptions. We can’t allow a few to damage the industry. There is a demand for taxi licences.” The get-tough proposal on licences was among several suggestions made by the taxi industry at a meeting with Zane DeSilva, the transport minister. The association predicted the number of taxis on the roads would increase from 565 to 600 if non-operational drivers had their licences taken away. Other proposals at last week’s meeting included the creation of a transport committee, credit card readers in all taxis and third-party insurance for second drivers. The association said it also wanted to enforce rules to ensure cabs were on the road for a minimum number of hours a day. It added that drivers who only do corporate work for international business clients should exchange their taxi permits for corporate transportation licences. Mr Frost added: “We talked about dress code, driver behavior, drivers refusing jobs. The minister is prepared to ensure that someone’s pockets will hurt if they don’t do it. I have faith in Mr DeSilva in that he is the first minister that has sat down and listened. He doesn’t talk like a politician, he talks like he wants to get something done. Taxis are public-service vehicles which means that you are working to serve the public. If you can’t do the job, you need to find something else.”
2019. June 10. A government plan to issue 20 temporary taxi permits to boost the number of cabs on the road has been put on hold. The news came after Zane DeSilva, the transport minister, held a meeting with 300 members of the Bermuda Taxi Owners’ Association to discuss improvements to the service. Taxi drivers said they were concerned about the $4,000 cost of a temporary permit compared with about $100,000 for a standard permit. David Frost, the president of the BTOA, said: “There is a lot more to just putting an extra 20 cars on the road — you are talking about a $100,000 taxi permit being devalued because you are putting a $4,000 taxi on the road. We have 600 registered taxi permits in Bermuda and we have to make sure that we have 600 taxis on the road before we start moving to bring other taxis on the road. The minister knows why they are not on the road — you have taxis in probate, taxis that are not insured and taxis that are owned by drivers, including government workers, that are not on the road during the day. They should be, but it comes down to enforcement.” Mr DeSilva said: “It is some people’s perception that this move would devalue their permits. I am a listening minister. If we don’t get to a stage where we can move people around without waiting hours on end for transportation then we are going to have to make some moves. I would prefer to do it with the taxi drivers than to make that decision. Maybe we need to change the law to say if you own a taxi we need to know who you are going to leave it with when you die. Or maybe if the taxi is not used, the permit gets returned to TCD and we give them a prorated refund.” Mr DeSilva added that the law on taxis “needs to be blown up and rewritten, which I will do”. The meeting was held at Warwick Workmen’s Club last Thursday. Taxi drivers also discussed the need for better regulation of the industry by the Transport Control Department, night-time taxi availability, as well as abusive taxi drivers and badly behaved passengers. Mr DeSilva said that after a Green Paper on transport was unveiled last month he would issue 20 special taxi permits for use during restricted hours to help boost taxi numbers because only 556 out of 600 taxi licences issued were being used. Taxis owners are required have their vehicles on the road for 16 hours a day, but they are not monitored after a policy decision was made in 2010 by the TCD. But Mr DeSilva said that a decision had now been made to collect information from dispatchers on the hours that individual taxis were on the road. He added: “We are compiling the information. Once we start seeing the trends and seeing who is working and who isn’t then we are going to take action.” Mr DeSilva said that he planned further meetings with the BTOA.
2019. May 31. Policies will limit the use of special taxi permits when they are introduced, according to Zane DeSilva, Minister of Tourism and Transport. Mr DeSilva said that while the announcement of the permits was met with an “overwhelmingly positive” response from the public, he said he was aware of concerns among taxi operators. He said: “We are looking at the options very carefully and have already decided to make the permits subject to an annual fee and assessment. Our goal is to get these taxis on the road and running before the end of July. I also wish to make it clear, to existing and potential taxi licence owners, that the new permit will be restricted to working times that fill the identified service gaps — the proposed hours are from 3pm to 6am and this will be finalized soon. To ensure all regulations are adhered to, the special permit taxis will be required to register with a dispatcher who will send them work only during the permitted times.” Mr DeSilva added that once launched, the programme would be carefully monitored to determine if any additional special taxi permits were required. He said as part of the creation of the Transport Green paper, the Government had looked at the data from three of the four dispatching services on the island and were able to identify times and locations when the public could not secure transport. Mr DeSilva explained: “There are a number of individuals willing and able to drive taxis, but they are unable to do so because some owners have declined to make their taxis available for rent. This, along with other factors such as some drivers choosing not to work during unsociable hours, results in a shortage of taxis, specifically at certain locations and times of the day. “It is for this reason we are looking to introduce special taxi permits.” He added that the Government would implement many of the ideas recommended during the Transport Green Paper consultation period as it seeks to address shortcomings in the system, but the special taxi permits were the quickest and most efficient way to get more taxis on the road to provide transportation during the summer season. Mr DeSilva added: “I look forward to working with stakeholders to fix these problems which have festered for years without resolution. In tourism and transport, we cannot let attachments to the past prevent us from modernizing the future. We were elected to fix problems and must move forward to make transportation better while providing more Bermudians the opportunity to earn a living and benefit from our growing tourism economy.”
2019. May 28. Taxi law and regulatory changes suggested in a Green Paper on transport are already on the books but not enforced a former president of the industry’s association said yesterday. Leo Simmons, who headed the Bermuda Taxi Owners Association from 2014 to 2017, said that proposals by interested groups in the government paper to tackle a “taxi crisis”, including making it illegal for drivers to refuse rides based on distance or route, were in force. Mr Simmons added: “It is an enforcement issue. It has been an enforcement issue for years. The change has got to start from the top. You have people who sit behind desks making decisions but some are not practical and they have no clue how to enforce it. The law also has a lot of loopholes — the taxi association in the past was looking to bring the taxi regulations into the 21st century.” Mr Simmons highlighted part of the Motor Taxi Regulations 1952 Act which said a “driver of a taxi shall not, while the taxi is standing or plying for hire, refuse to accept a passenger for a lawful journey”. Another suggestion in the Green Paper was to revoke the licence of any taxi owner whose vehicle was not on the road for the legal minimum of 16 hours a day — which is also already in force. The Transport Control Department has the authority to enforce regulations but admitted last year that it had not monitored taxi operation times since 2010 because of a “policy decision”. Mr Simmons said that there was a reluctance by cab drivers to lend out their vehicles to cover the mandated time period because if the substitute driver damaged the car, the insurance bill was the responsibility of the owner. He added if the second driver was found to have broken the law, TCD would revoke the owner’s permit. Mr Simmons said: “The offence goes against the car and not the person. If I have a car and my driver commits an offence, my permit can get suspended but it doesn’t affect the driver. These are antiquated laws. We tried to get operator’s liability insurance so every operator can get their own insurance but it didn’t happen.” Shari-Lynn Pringle, a taxi driver for more than 20 years, added: “I don’t think that TCD has the resources to monitor it — TCD could not tell you how many taxis are on the road driving right now, they don’t have any way to accurately monitor who is on the road and for how long. Finding a second driver to fulfil the 16 hours that is going to respect your business is the difficulty. GPS would help to give the dispatch companies a reporting facility but TCD has to enforce that.” Mr Simmons and Ms Pringle agreed that a central dispatch operation would help tackle the problems faced by the industry. Ms Pringle added: “Central dispatch is the only way that they are going to be able to pull consistent reports and it would result in better reporting and accountability.” Mr Simmons said: “Governments have talked about central dispatching for years where all the information comes to one company and all the drivers are all connected.” Phil Barnett, the president of Island Restaurant Group, said that improvements to the taxi service was a matter of urgency and that a central dispatch system should be a priority. He added: “Because the taxis in Bermuda are run mostly by a group of individual entrepreneurs, there does need to be a centralized dispatch system that holds them accountable to their public-service licence. The bottom line is if taxi drivers don’t wish to adhere by the term of their public-service licence, they should give it up to someone who would be willing to do so. Transport minister Zane DeSilva certainly has our industry’s full support — he mentioned to the restaurant division that the Green Paper was coming out and that he truly wanted to do something about it because it is killing our business. Since the sobriety checkpoints, it has been absolutely horrific. When there is no choice people make poor decisions.” Mr DeSilva has promised to release 20 special taxi permits to operate during restricted hours to help boost taxi numbers as only 556 out of 600 taxi licences issued are being used. The Green Paper reported that some had complained that passengers were “verbally abused” by taxi drivers. But Mr Simmons and Ms Pringle said that incidents where taxi drivers were offensive to customers were rare. Mr Simmons said: “There are many drivers who do a good job. We do have the odd incident where taxi drivers behave badly, but most are courteous.” Ms Pringle added: “We shouldn’t forget about the driver who stood around with two women after midnight waiting for the Airbnb person to turn up or the driver who helped your 18-year-old daughter get home drunk. There are problems but there is so much goodwill out there.” The Bermuda Taxi Owners Association declined to comment until after a meeting with the Government this week. A transport ministry spokesman said regarding the plans for a central dispatch service: “The Government is committed to ensuring that taxis and other public service vehicles support a strong public transport system that provides consumers with safe travel choices and is fair to owners and drivers. “In the first instance, we will assess the current model and considering what, if any, changes are required to respond to feedback from the 2019 Transport Green Paper; the introduction of new technologies and systems; and the needs of our visitors and the broader community. A central dispatching service is one of the options being considered.” The transport ministry said last night it would comment further on the taxi trade’s views today.
September 10, 2019
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