The one-year pilot ridesharing programme for taxis announced in the House of Assembly on Friday has already hit a bumpy road, as far as the Bermuda Taxi Owners Association (BTOA) is concerned.

Hard on the heels of Transport Minister Wayne Furbert’s announcement comes word that there will be no smooth sailing in store as the BTOA “stands resolute in its rejection of the proposal”.

In the statement received by Bermuda Real on Saturday, BTOA President Dennis Furbert said: “We categorically deny agreement or acceptance of the Minister’s proposal”.

The association’s rejection of the proposal was based on several grounds, including the lack of a liability insurance requirement.

The Full Statement:

The Bermuda Taxi Owners Association (BTOA) stands resolute in its rejection of the proposal put forth by the Minister in the House of Assembly on Friday, March 15th, 2024, regarding the introduction of the ride-sharing services to Bermuda.

The BTOA vehemently opposes the introduction of ride-sharing services for several reasons:

  1. *Use of Private Vehicles* Permitting ride-share permit holders to use private vehicles sets a dangerous precedent, potential compromising passenger safety and bypassing regulatory standards upheld by the legacy transportation option.
  2. *Unregulated Ride-Share Permit Holders* The lack of regulation for ride-share permit holders poses significant risks to both passengers and the transportation industry as a whole, undermining the principles of safety and accountability.
  3. *Barrier of Entry* Charging a mere $1,000 for ride-share permits severely diminishes the value of legacy transportation options and creates an unfair playing field, ultimately harming the livelihoods of traditional transportation providers.
  4. *Lack of Liability Insurance Requirement* The absences of a requirement for ride-share vehicles to carry liability insurance, as current transportation vehicles do, poses serious risks to passengers and the broader community.

The BTA is deeply disappointed by the Minister’s proposal, as it fails to address the concerns and priorities of the transportation industry. Furthermore, it disregards the legacy and contributions of traditional transportation providers who have long served the community with professionalism and dedication.

“We categorically deny agreement or acceptance of the Minister’s proposal”, stated Dennis Furbert, President of the Bermuda Taxi Owners & Operators Association.

“We are committed to pursuing alternative options that prioritize the interests of the transportation industry while upholding the values of safety, accountability, and fairness.”

The BTA emphasizes that discussions regarding the Minister’s proposal took place on March 14th, 2024, and a thorough consultation with its membership is imperative before any further decisions are made – end of statement.

On Friday (Mar 15), Transport Minister Wayne Furbert announced a 15 percent taxi fare increase, which was just short of the 20 percent cabbies demanded, and the approved ridesharing programme

The one-year pilot ridesharing programme was approved with a total of 150 rideshare permits authorised, for $1,000 for each permit.

The Minister insisted that “modernisation is necessary if we are to be a successful tourism jurisdiction and is pivotal for advancing transportation infrastructure and systems”.

“By embracing modern technologies and practices, we can enhance efficiency, safety and sustainability across all modes of transportation,” he said.

The 150 new rideshare permits “will come with a nominal fee of $1,000”, and “will be easily identifiable through a designated logo affixed to the vehicle’s windscreen, signifying compliance with established guidelines”.

According to the Minister, the main purpose of this change “is to ensure additional transportation capacity during peak times, a rideshare-permitted vehicle will be permitted to operate daily from April 1 through September 30”.

“During the rest of the year, rideshare vehicles will be permitted on weekends, starting Friday, and public holidays,” he added.

But he said: “One crucial condition of the rideshare permit is that permit holders are only allowed to be dispatched through an online platform, ensuring a controlled and orderly ridesharing service.

“It is our intention to put this programme in place for a one-year pilot period so that adjustments can be made to ensure that we enhance the transportation.”

The initiative will be under the oversight of the Public Service Vehicles Licensing Board. And “legislation will be revised to recognise and regulate ridesharing as a legitimate mode of transportation, aligning it with existing regulations governing public service vehicles”.