A price hike for one-day bus passes for Bermuda’s cruise ship passengers has come in for criticism by a number of hospitality ambassadors and cruise ship passengers.
One local employee who deals with countless passengers who disembark at the mega cruise ship port in Dockyard, reached out to Bermuda Real claiming the increase to $19 is a “rip off”.
Speaking on the condition of anonymity, she said: “This year the Government is having the passengers purchase one-day passes which cost $19, whereas previously you could purchase tokens for $4.50 one-way,
or two tokens for round trips for $9.
“I think it is a complete rip off! What if you just wanted to go to Hamilton and back? Now there’s only one-day passes!
“It’s Tourism and Transport officials who did this! At first I thought it was WEDCO,” she said.
“They used to sell one-day and three-day passes, and individual tokens. And yes the tourists are complaining!”
When contacted by Bermuda Real, WEDCO Chairman Ray Charlton said:”I have read your email [below] and the person who sent it to you is misinformed.
“WEDCO does not have any say in what rates the Bermuda Government decides to set for the purchase of Public Transportation passes or tokens.
“Further, it is not for WEDCO to comment on the recent story regarding visitors opinions on the new policies that have been put in place by the Ministry for Transportation and Tourism,” he said.
For the record he said: “WEDCO does not presently have a direct stake in the transportation provision from the Dockyard except that, we do provide three transportation supervisors who assist our guests with information and directions.
“We have added two additional supervisors this year. WEDCO as of this season, no longer carries out the ticketing and administration of the minibus service to Horseshoe Bay.”
Mr Charlton was one of many talk show callers to air his views on the issue of public transportation last Sunday on ‘Now You’re Talking’ with Shirley Dill.
Asked to recap his comments for Bermuda Real, he noted that he was making “his own observations” and “was not speaking as WEDCO Chairman”.
“Being close to the situation, my understanding is this – nowhere that I know of, do cruise passengers have their on land transportation needs met mostly by Government provided public transportation that is heavily subsidized,” said Mr Charlton.
“The change that has been implemented will see the end to additional government buses that are put on to transport cruisers mostly to Horseshoe Bay. In addition to this, there will no longer be a three-day pass promoted.
“Visitors will be encouraged to use either taxis or mini buses and informed that if they wish to use public transport, it does run to a schedule and there are limitations to the number of seats that will be available. If this is still their preferred option, it is most likely that they will experience long lines and waits,” he added.
“These changes were discussed with the cruise lines. Having gotten used to this facility being provided for many years, cruise visitors will not be happy with the changes as it does mean that they will have to spend more. There will be ‘grumblings’, but I believe that it will soon settle down and become the new normal. And we should even see improved service and reduced wait times going forward.
He noted that the new changeover will “bring us in line with most other port destinations”.
“It is necessary to cut back on this government expense and additionally, it helps to promote taxi and minibus usage, something that is under-utilised at this time.”
He also expressed his “desire to try to get WEDCO to partner up with the Corporation Of St. Georges to lease or possibly purchase a boat to provide the connection between the Dockyard and St. Georges”.
“If taken out of government’s control, the service could be operated as a cruise with amenities such as a bar and grill with tour commentary and-or entertainment. This could be turned into a revenue generating venture where both the Corporation of St Georges and WEDCO may benefit by using the funds for operations, maintenance, and services provided to the public,” said Mr Charlton.
Meanwhile, our sources maintain that transportation issues at the cruise ship port in Dockyard will “only get worse with the America’s Cup”. But plans are underway to address the issues before the AC Race Series in 2017.
By Ceola Wilson