New training programmes will begin soon for both mechanics and bus operators to make way for the transition to the fleet of electric buses due to arrive next year.

Speaking at a news conference held on Wednesday (Dec 8) the Department of Public Transportation (DPT) Director, Roger Todd said special courses have been developed to facilitate the “procedural changes” that lie ahead.

“We look forward to the training programmes, which will be supported the Institute For Motoring Industry as well as Bermuda College and the manufacturer themselves,” said Mr Todd.

“The training and operation of the buses will necessitate procedural changes and so that’s why we’ve identified the period of March 2022 for the commissioning and implementation with a view to entering into service with the new fleet in April 2022.”

He also noted that “this is an exciting time for Bermuda and for public transportation”.

“Not only are we working to replenish the public bus fleet and our staffing complement so that we can return to a reliable public bus and school bus service,” he said.

“We are also taking this opportunity to transition to a greener and energy efficient solution for Bermuda. And so that’s very exciting.

“There is much work that has been done to get us to this point and there is much work to be done as we transition now from the production of the vehicles to the implementation and commissioning.”

Meanwhile, Transport Minister Lawrence Scott noted that “in order to have a reliable and consistent bus service we need a total operating fleet of 88 buses”.

“We currently have 51 operational buses, you add the 30 to that and you’re getting very close to that 88,” he said.

“So this should put us in a position where we arrest or close to eliminate the mass cancellations, but we cannot say that we’re going to eliminate all cancellations at this time.

“When we take delivery of the second traunche of buses that will put us in a place where we can say that outside of unforeseen circumstances we should have that safe, consistent and reliable bus service that we are aiming and achieving to have,” he added.

The 30 new electric buses were purchased earlier this year from Golden Dragon Bus Company Ltd in China.

“The Company recently completed the pre-delivery inspections and is currently preparing the buses to be shipped from Shanghai to Bermuda,” said the Minister.

Despite “global supply chain issues”, the “project has progressed”, he added.

“We anticipate that the buses will be arriving on three shipments over the next few months. But more so because they are scheduled to go into service in April 2022 following commissioning and staff training.”

In the interim, he said additional bus operators will be recruited, “which will ensure that we have the resources required to provide a reliable and consistent public bus service”.

Moving forward, he said the Government is “in the process of constructing interim charging stations at Dockyard, St George and Fort Langton bus depots to support the initial 30 buses until the permanent charging infrastructure is ready”.

“These charging stations will be fed from existing BELCO circuits and completed in March 2022,” said the Minister.

“The initial RFP for the new electric buses envisioned transitioning the entire bus fleet to electric over ten years. The permanent charging infrastructure will accommodate the whole fleet. The RFP for this new infrastructure is concluding, and the contract award is anticipated early in the new year. The build will take one year to complete. 

“Additionally, we look forward to the Ministry of Public Works completing its solar PV project for the Fort Langton bus garage that will produce energy to assist with charging the buses.”

Mr Todd also noted that the new fleet of electric buses “will not only improve local air quality”, but “they will also save Bermuda money relative to the legacy diesel buses because they are much less expensive to purchase, charge and maintain”.