Transport Minister Wayne Furbert reported a “significant decrease” in the Ministry of Transport’s budget, to the tune of $4.1 million.

Speaking at a post-Budget news conference today, he said the decrease was “mainly attributed to the absence of the requirement of the Guaranteed Minimum Regulated Revenue (GMRR) payment to Bermuda Skyport Corporation Limited”.

“This reduction underscores the growth in air lift in Bermuda,” he said.

“The team has worked on strategically enhancing air service to Bermuda, particularly in response to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This reduction in the budget serves as evidence of the substantial advancements made in this regard.”

He also noted that the Ministry worked together with the Bermuda Airport Authority, Bermuda Tourism Authority and Skyport in an effort to increase air service to Bermuda”. 

“The collaborative efforts and initiatives have materialized successfully,”

The Ministry’s total budget for the next fiscal year is $68,246,000, to cover:

  • Ministry Headquarters
  • Department of Marine and Ports, 
  • Transportation Control Department and 
  • Department of Public Transportation 

The Ministry’s estimated revenue is $42,048,000, “the majority of which will be accounted for within the operations of the Transport Control Department”.

Funds have been allocated for the Department of Marine and Ports to purchase two new ferries.

A government contract was signed in February, with the department and Strategic Marine of Singapore for the new builds.

” A robust procurement process was conducted with the highest bid equating to $36 million, however the department was able to secure a contract significantly lower, specifically $19.5 million, whilst maintaining quality assurance within the contract,” he added.   

“The investment into our ferry fleet is the largest budget item in 2024/2025 capital plan,” he added.

Throughout the last year, the Ministry has worked together with the Bermuda Airport Authority, Bermuda Tourism Authority and Skyport in an effort to increase air service to Bermuda. The collaborative efforts and initiatives have materialized successfully.

“As part of the Ministry’s infrastructure capital plan, the purchase, which will replace the JE Cecil Smith and Warbaby Fox ferries, signals a pledge to modernizing the ferry fleet and cater to the increasing demand for efficient and sustainable transportation options.

“These new vessels, each capable of carrying up to 550 passengers, not only mark a considerable investment in maritime infrastructure but also promise to improve the overall commuting experience for residents and tourist alike.”

Terming it “a groundbreaking move”, the Minister went on to say that the “Department of Public Transportation and the Department of Marine and Ports will be introducing and implementing digital fare media for buses and ferries, marking a historic milestone in public transportation”.

“This initiative, the first of its kind, represents a paradigm shift towards more efficient, convenient, and technologically advanced payment systems,” he said.

“The introduction of digital fare media not only streamlines the ticketing process for buses and ferries but also enhances the overall commuter experience, bringing public transportation into the 21st century.

“Commuters will enjoy the convenience of seamless transactions, as digital fare media eliminates the need for physical tickets or cash,” he added.

“The integration of smart card technology and mobile applications offers passengers a range of payment options, providing flexibility and accessibility for diverse user preferences.

“Beyond the convenience factor, this innovation contributes to more accurate ridership data, aiding in optimizing routes and improving service efficiency.

“As a positive step towards a cashless and digitally connected society, the implementation of digital fare media not only modernizes public transport but also sets a precedent for future technological advancements in the transportation infrastructure.

“This forward-thinking approach promises a more connected, efficient, and user-friendly public transportation system, bringing about positive changes in the daily lives of commuters and visiting tourists.”

The switch to digital fares for public transport is due to start in May.