On the eve of what looks set to be another record breaking cruise ship season, with more passengers scheduled to arrive here than ever before, public transportation officials may soon find themselves faced with unprecedented health and safety issues at the height of a list of pressing concerns, held by unionised bus operators.
The first two cruise ships due to arrive King’s Wharf in Dockyard arrives on Friday, (April 5), with the second ship due in at the west end port on Saturday.
As quiet as its kept, Bermuda Real can disclose tonight that bus operators met this week to discuss the new bus schedule, now on trial for its first test run, with 80 rosters and less buses, particularly as it relates to west end commuters.
Topping their list of concerns, is the fact that several rosters do not allow any time for drivers to relieve themselves and the rosters for general orders see operators driving for 7.5 hours straight, with no break.
One driver complained that it was as if they were expected to no longer have kidneys.
Bermuda Real also understands that they plan to meet with the Health & Safety representatives responsible for Government employees, to have these matters addressed.
Speaking on the condition of anonymity, another driver said if it comes down to using the bathroom or running late “it’s a no-brainer”.
Others questioned a 7.5-hour schedule of straight driving with no real break for anything. The health concerns for operators who are also diabetic could have serious ramifications.
Drivers also anticipate serious backups and backlogs due to removal of the bus routes that serviced Barnes Corner and Grotto Bay. Those buses traditionally used to pick up the slack, so to speak, or the overflow.
Just last week city commuters encountered delays getting home from the bus terminal in Hamilton, where there were large numbers of passengers waiting for lift for extended periods.
On top of that, this year will see unprecedented demand for lift out of Dockyard for the anticipated 68,000 cruise ship visitors expected this season, with a total of 192 calls to Bermuda.
Projections say that translates into an estimated 544,000 passengers on our shores this season, marking a 14 percent increase over the figure recorded in 2018, which is expected to generate $7.9 million in tax revenue and increase visitor spending, which is great for Bermuda’s economy.
But what about those public transportation horror stories, especially the one about the bus that never showed up, or the countless tourists left stranded waiting for a bus at Horseshoe Bay?
What about our west end residents – the ones who this year, will stand at bus stops for the 18th year and watch buses filled to capacity right out of Dockyard drive straight past them?
From where Mr & Mrs Resident bus commuters sit – it would appear that too will be all on them.
Taxpayers will be left holding the bag again – still paying , still waiting to see how this test run is going to work and most likely, still waiting for a bus service that pays no service to them for 18 cruise ship seasons.
Rest assured it’s going to be interesting to say the least! And once again, here we go once AGAIN!
Let the record show this journalist has asked the Minister of Tourism and Transport Zane DeSilva for an interview twice. He said yes, it has yet to happen and yes we will be asking AGAIN!