Bus operators reported to work on Monday to find more than half of the ageing fleet down and out of service.
One driver told Bermuda Real, there was a “real scramble to get the fleet up and running on Monday morning with 72 buses out of service”.
When contacted for an official count, a spokesman for the Ministry of Transport and Regulatory said: “There were 62 buses out of service today (Tuesday).”
He did not give a total figure on the number of buses that were not in working order on Monday. But when Bermuda Real followed up with some of the men and women who operate the buses yesterday, they all concurred that the figure released by the Minister “is merely ten buses less” than what the department faced on Monday morning. One driver said he had to wait for more than two hours for a bus to operate.
Another driver said: “Showing up for work to be told they will have to wait for a bus is now a daily occurrence.” On any given day he said there could be as many as 20 drivers waiting for a bus to drive on scheduled routes that are constantly being cancelled.
“It’s frustrating because we get chastised by the members of the public left waiting for buses that don’t show up due to cancellations,” he said. “Then we’re criticised for sitting around waiting and getting paid but the problem is out of our hands.
“Personally, I try not to take it on when passengers make their frustrations known. I just take it as it comes because it’s not our fault. Frankly, quite a few of these buses need to be taken off the roads – period! More than a few of them are constantly on the road around the clock because most of the fleet is down,” he added.
Another driver said: “First there was the America’s Cup and we’re still struggling to handle the impact of thousands of cruise ship passengers,” she said.
Ironically, the 62 buses confirmed by the Ministry that were not in service yesterday, is the same number of buses that were out of service on July 17th.
In the update published by Bermuda Real last week, another driver said there were as many as 70 buses out of service during that week as well.
Earlier this year, the situation reached the point where the Department of Public Transportation (DPT) published lists of bus cancellations almost daily. Now that schools are out for the summer break, bus cancellations appear to have taken on a low profile. But they are still happening daily.
Prior to the America’s Cup, the former Minister of Transport Michael Fahy said no new buses will be added to the ageing fleet until later this year. He anticipated that they would arrive around September, with another set of new buses scheduled for shipment in the new year.
The Ministry has also stated that “maintenance issues may continue to hinder the public bus service”, and that they require at least 78 buses per day to cover the 12 routes serviced, with another eight buses for sightseeing tours.
The last time Bermuda Real updated this story in June, a spokesman said: “There remains some fluctuation in the number of buses designated as out-of-service.” But he said: “The DPT continues its best efforts to keep up with the demands of the existing bus schedule, by juggling the available resources of the bus fleet.
“Where it is necessary, the DPT may be required to cancel the occasional run from a route that schedules bus departures at 15-minute intervals,” he added. And he apologised on behalf of the DPT for any inconvenience to commuters as a result of bus cancellations.
Since then, the government administration has changed and the new Transport Minister is Walter Roban, who is schedule to speak at a news conference later this week on other issues.
Once the Minister has settled into his new Ministry, Bermuda Real will be seeking a follow up interview on the ongoing issues stemming from the island’s public transportation service as the juggling act continues. And we’ll keep you posted.