Bermuda Real was the first to report the fact that taxpayers paid out $1.7 million to a Canadian consultancy firm over 17 years for new bus rosters that we still don’t have.

In response to that report, Transport Minister Zane DeSilva quipped that it wasn’t quite $1.7 million.

As it turns out: “Since 2002. Schedule Masters have been paid varying amounts each year that add up to $1,671,174.62 in total over the 17 years, inclusive of $24,056.00 paid so far this year.”

Repeat that last part of the previous sentence – “inclusive of $24,056.00 paid so far this year”.

That statement was issued to Bermuda Real in January and then retracted with the promise of a follow up statement in response to our initial report – which, by the way – no other mainstream media expanded on until last week.

Here we are in February and Bermuda’s taxpayers are still paying for two new bus schedules that have yet to be implemented. And even then, it won’t resolve te need for more new buses.

Now, in February, the big question is why is this consultancy firm still on Government’s payroll and for what exactly?

The Minister stated in an interview last week that ultimately, his goal was to eliminate the consultancy firms deal – period! But for now, he said, the Department of Public Transportation (DPT)was using the firm less and less

Despite his intentions, the fact remains that this firm is still dipping out in the public purse and costing taxpayers more MONEY at a time when there’s clearly no oney for new buses! But there’s money to keep paying for this never-ending pursuit of new rosters from a Canadian consultant. And the question remain – WHY?

With no firm date set in stone on when the new winter bus schedule will actually go into effect – what exactly is the hold up – and what’s taking so long?

Could it be the fact that the DPT pushed out rosters with more than one night shift per roster – or what is commonly referred to as the ‘Night Train”.

Why would they even try putting more than one night shift per roster when bus operators WON the right to one night shift per roster through arbitration several years ago?

The DPT knew that, the union and the Ministry of Transport knew that – so why would they all pose and say the new schedule would go into effect on a certain date – whih by the way has passed – and act like nobody knew this was some REAL CRAP!

Could it be this sort of NONSENSE represents a big part of the reason why this bus roster issue has dragged on and on at the taxpayers expense for 17 years and counting?

February is the shortest month of the year and this journalist would venture to say by the time its all sorted out it will be time for the summer schedule, which is probably nowhere near settled yet.

So where does this leave the island’s year-round bus commuters still being left stranded due to this endless repeat cycle of breakdowns and cancellations.

How many new buses would we have by or before the start of the 2019 tourism season out of $1.7 million and counting? How many west end residents will watch, once again, public buses drie by them compltely full before they leave Dockyard? What’s the plan? How many more years do you need to sort it out exactly? And why are we as taxpayers still paying this Canadian and his company for this errant nonsense?

The statement issue in January, noted that the DPT “operates the public bus service using two schedules in a year: one during the winter (when school is in) and one during the summer (when school is out)”.

“For some years now, there has been a ‘gray schedule’ in place as well which omprises runs added to the published schedule to satisfy demand (largely related to transporting school students).

It was also noted that:

  • DPT does not have tools equivalent to The Master Scheduler in house to do this complex work, which includes the computerized dispatching system DPT uses daily
  • To be clear: Schedule Masters are hired to produce the schedules and rosters for a Bermuda public bus service – not a Canadian bus service – and has done so at the request of DPT since 2002.
  • The task of implementing the rosters is for DPT to do, not Schedule Masters. Lastly, the Ministry also wishes to reiterate that it is encouraged by the efforts of us operators, the perusal committee, Bermuda Industrial Union members, and the Department of Public Transportation management who put in many hours of hard work to com to this agreement. Without them, none of this would have been possible and we believe that is the true essence of yesterday’s press conference sought to illustrate.

Well, that was in December and here we are in February – and all that press conference showed me was that there was a lot of talk and no real perusal of what DPT was proposing when the Minister of Transport stood up with the President of the Bermuda Industrial Union to announce a new winter schedule that included rosters with more than one ‘Night Train’ per roster.

To say it again – what were they trying in the first instance knowing full well there was an arbitration ruling clearly stating otherwise AND what’s the plan moving forward – Tell Me This – Will it take another $1.7 million AND 17 years?

And how much you want to bet that west end residents will still be watching public buses leave Dockyard completely full with cruise ship passengers this summer with or without a new schedule AND NO NEW BUSES?

How many dollars, DPT officials and Canadians does it take exactly to GET IT DONE?

Like I asked the Minister of Transport when we talked about this $1.7 million over 17 years – My question was simply this: “You run a multi-million dollar construction firm how long would you pay one of your employees out of your money NOT to do their job?”

Won’t tell you what he said but will simply say this – my response was: “I rest my case!”

And see all of you Civil Servants pushing this Canadian firm’s pay cheque through – how many buses would $1.7 million buy? And I’m not talking 17 years – DO THE MATH – that’s all I’m saying! And get rid of this Canadian suck the public purse dry for NOTHING!

Now we asked the Minister to come forward before this report was published. He told me to write whatever I feel I need to write and he will sit down on camera with me when he gets back.

Let the record show – it’s DONE!