Public bus commuters were put on notice to expect cancellations to double this week after negotiations with the Bermuda Minibus Association to back up the school route broke down.
Speaking at a news conference on Monday (Jan 11) Department of Public Transportation (DPT) Director Roger Todd said the usual 25 cancellations a day could go up to 50 when students return to school on Wednesday.
“Despite extensive negotiations”, Transport Minister Lawrence Scott said the island’s minibus operators were “steadfast in their demand for $210 per run, which amounts to $690,000 per week – which is money this ministry does not have”.
“As a result of this inability to agree, the Department of Public Transportation will focus on our most precious commodity – our children.” he added.
“And so, when school starts this Wednesday, the DPT will be prioritising school runs to ensure our children can safely and reliably arrive at school and back home.”
In a bid to provide “a reliable service for the students at a rate of $200 per trip”, the DPT began using minibuses in 2017 as a back up for the island’s deteriorating bus fleet, which continued until June 2020.
According to the Minister, the minibus association had asked for $250 a trip. But the DPT said it could only offer $125 per trip, which was later increased to $175 per trip.
“Unfortunately, despite extensive negotiations, the offer was rejected,” Mr Scott said.
Mr Todd noted that the DPT was also “in direct talks” with minibus operators who are not members of the association.
On that note, he said: “We will solicit the support we can from those individuals willing to engage us at $175.”