• Just as this story was published this morning, Bermuda Real was informed that bus operators have served notice of a work to rule that goes into effect as of June 15 through to June 28, 2018, because they are fed up and want answers. We understand that the work to rule will mean that there will be no bus service on Heroes Day on Monday, June 18, 2018 because there is no overtime during a work to rule. And as usual WE are still awaiting some form of an official response from the Ministry of Transport and/or the Department of Public Transportation…

Former Progressive Labour Party MP Dale Butler has challenged the Government to take definitive steps to address the slew of problems associated with Bermuda’s ageing bus fleet.

Speaking on the Shirley Dill talk show earlier this month, Mr Butler said we know we need new buses, and we know there’s no money to buy them in multiple numbers, but the Government is charged with providing a public transportation service.

And perhaps it’s time, he said, to cut the cord on free bus rides.

“Tell the country we have no choice but to charge all starting January 2019 for bus service, so that the estimated savings can buy us 30 new buses,” said Mr Butler.

“While they lose a little it would help in the short and long term. Also charge $10 extra on every resident and guest worker who leaves the island. This money would be used to buy buses.

“We have no choice and it will be painful at first, but helpful in the short and long term,” he added.

Meanwhile, several bus operators contacted Bermuda Real earlier this week to say they are poised to implement a work to rule for two weeks, because they’re fed up.

One operator said they want answers on what Government plans to do with the ageing bus fleet, particularly at the height of what looks set to be another bumper crop cruise ship season.

Another operator said: “We know the story and the bottom line on the fact that there’s no money.”

But he said: “With up to 60 buses out of service on any given day, we know the story on the budgetary restraints. But that also means that this Government is doing nothing to address what we have to deal with every day!”

And one of those days is Wednesdays when the new Breakaway arrives with another cruise ship weekly at Dockyard.

Here’s the thing – this year, the new sister ship is carrying roughly 600 more passengers than the original ship. And we all know that the bus fleet couldn’t handle the load when two ships are in port when the load was a bit lighter last year.

For west end residents like myself, on Wednesdays we get to watch buses drive by us jammed packed with our visiting guests.

Last Wednesday and the one before that was no different. Most recently, last week Wednesday, after completing my daily walk routine up west, I sat on the bus stop for more than an hour, only to watch buses heading east go past. I counted at least five – all rammed full!

When a Number 8 bus finally stopped, almost full, this is what it looked like. Fortunately, the driver went through great lengths to fit as many people in as she possibly could. Needless to say the ride home was long and horrible!

On May 15, 2018 Bermuda Real sent specific questions to the Minister of Transport, Walter Roban, and the DCI representative responsible for securing answers from the Department of Public Transportation.

A few weeks later, we asked for answers again, and published the fact that to date, at that point in time, there were still no answers.

And once again, earlier this week, after last week Wednesday’s ongoing episode – still no response.

On May 26,2018, in an article headlined ‘Frustrated Bus Operators to Hold Urgent Joint Consultation Meeting With BIU & DPT, Bermuda Industrial Union President Chris Furbert put the media on notice that the new Director at the Department of Public Transportation has requested an “urgent joint consultation committee” meeting with the union.

This after staff met with DPT officials regarding concerns about management’s attitude.

Dilapidated buses and “unfair” management practices are frustrating bus drivers, said Mr Furbert.
“The answer is that they need to buy more buses.”
He also noted that Roger Todd, the new director at DPT, wanted to hold an urgent follow up meeting with the joint consultation committee. No word on whether that meeting was held.
In fact, despite repeated requests, there has been no word out of the DPT period!
Mr Furbert noted that there were a host of issues that have been ongoing over the last three, four, five, seven years, and that the problems range from air conditioning not working to the ongoing spate of breakdowns resulting in cancellations.
The union leader also said staff are concerned about the amount of time it takes to resolve any of the issues at hand.
“You’re talking about providing a serve for the public,” he said.
“People complain when the buses aren’t working, but the staff need to be able to do the job. The fleet has aged and you can only do so much maintenance.
“If DPT has 100 buses and let’s say 80 of them are past their shelf life, what do you think is going to happen?”
Route cancellations this year have been upwards of 90 routes on some days, including school bus routes – not to mention it’s cruise ship season.
On Tuesday, May 15, Bermuda Real sent in a formal request to the Minister of Transport Walter Roban and his DCI representative requesting answers to specific questions.
The request reads as follows:
The 2018 Cruise Ship Season is upon us and we know the story with the buses BUT…
  • With roughly 60 buses out of service on any given day and the fact that the new Breakaway carries 500+ passengers more than the original Breakaway and on Wednesdays when there are two ships DPT couldn’t handle the load last year – what’s the plan this year ESPECIALLY for west end residents like me who get to watch fully loaded buses drive past me DAILY?
  • We know two new buses hardly make a difference, we know there is some sort of ongoing breakdown between management, who order parts or apparently they don’t due to budget constraints – how do you expect mechanics to work without parts needed?
  • The buses already too old are run constantly around the clock  – do we have enough minibuses for the season?
  • One year later what is the Minister, DPT and Marine & Ports saying with regard to the people who pay taxes for public transportation that apparently caters more to tourists during the peak season?

And as stated, to date, THERE HAS BEEN NO RESPONSE!