Bermuda’s infrastructure woes from public and private transportation, commercial vehicles and the road ahead drew strong opposing views in the Survey conducted to produce the Green Paper on Transport 2019.
With more vehicles on Bermuda’s roads than ever before, the survey found that when it comes to private transportation, “residents’ opinions” were “conflicted on a main issue of vehicle size”.
While the Green Paper “shows a strong percentage feel there are too many large cars on the island”, the report said “an equally strong percentage believe the current car sizes are acceptable”.
And “while there is enthusiasm for minicars, it does not extend to the idea of a minicar replacing the family car”.
To be clear, the report added: “Government is not considering a relaxation of the current ‘one car per assessment number’ rule”.
But when it comes to commercial trucks, “the concerns centred on truck size and weight”.
“There are more trucks on the island now, and such heavy vehicles can damage our roads and bridges. As a first step,
the Government will be working with our ports to gather data on the weight of trucks that come off the docks,” the report said.
“Certainly, in terms of the environmental impact of cars, trucks and motor cycles, there is strong support for a transition from the internal combustion engine to an electric (or other non-fossil fuel) vehicle, if the price is right. The Government recognizes that such a switch may be more challenging for heavy trucks but will lead the way in transitioning the Government fleet of vehicles.
“Respondents and stakeholders alike point to our unsatisfactory road traffic conditions as a key issue, demonstrated by the alarming trend of collisions, which are generally evidence of poor driving habits.
“The future of transport in Bermuda ought to be one that is collision-free. Government is committed to continuing with Phase 2 of Operation Caution, which will bring road safety education to our primary students, in addition to revamping ‘project ride training programme’ and revamping our existing driving tests.
“Further, key legislation will be reviewed and penalties revisited.”
But the report added: “Unfortunately, poor road traffic conditions undermine the efforts of the health sector to encourage active transport.
“Pedestrians do not enjoy sidewalks along all of our public roads and for those on pedal cycles, our bad driving behavior is a disincentive to cycle more.”
On that note, the report said: “The Government is of the view the active transport spaces, such as the Railway Trail, that can be used more, should be encouraged.
“A review of safety considerations for the Trail will be undertaken. Also, support for the work of the Friends of the Railway Trail to connect all parts of the former tracks will be ongoing.
“For visitors, public bus transportation and the taxi service are the main areas of concern, specifically in terms of reliability.
“Government recognizes that cruise ships are larger and carry more passengers and, as such, it is committed to continuing its investment in the bus fleet and to working with the taxi industry on modernizing its approach to customer service and the availability of taxis, generally.”
The Ministry also “reviewed the applicability of intelligent transport systems to our island. Intelligent transport relies on extensive data collection, its swift communication and transmission, prompt data analysis and the delivery of traveller information in real-time”.
The report stated: “While Bermuda may not yet be ready for a ‘smart city’ with fully enabled intelligent transport systems, we have some systems in place already.
“Government is committed, for example, to completing the upgrade of the electronic vehicle registration system and to implementing a transportation fare and real-time information solution that is GPS-enabled.
“Ultimately, the aim is to put in place a more connected and comprehensive system of traffic and travel management that operates seamlessly across the responsible ministries.
“The future of transport in Bermuda is one that embraces new technologies and focuses on customer service.”
To encourage use of public transportation, the report said “most respondents pointed to the need for more frequency, extended hours and additional stops”.
“With respect to both buses and ferries, an issue for residents and visitors is the existing antiquated form of transport fare media used in Bermuda – paper tickets, passes and tokens.
“The travelling public is ready for a vastly different approach to ticketing. Government is committed to moving to a transport
fare solution that is cashless, allows for online payment and is available as a smart phone app. The app would be GPS-enabled to facilitate real-time tracking of buses and ferries.”
The bottom line in the Executive Summary says: “It is clear that Bermuda is more than ready to embrace the technologies that have modernised transportation and traffic management globally.”
In Part 4 of this report, we’ll take a look at the general overview on Bermuda’s ageing bus fleet and the recommendations moving forward.
As it stands now, taxpayers paid out more than $13 million in bus expenditure. By 2016/17, that figure went up to just over $20 million, with the increase attributed “to inventory and supply purchases for the maintenance of the ageing bus fleet, as well as employee overtime and the increase in fuel costs and inflation (affecting operating cost and new bus cost/depreciation expense).”
The revenue generated in that same period was $5.8 million in 1999 – in 2016/17 that revenue increased to $7.2 million.