Transport Minister Walter Roban has vowed to estbalish “a very aggressive campaign”, to change Bermuda’s driving culture on our roads, with a pledge to introduce roadside sobriety testing this year.
Speaking at a news conference to discuss his Ministry’s $62.4 million Budget allocation for 20180-19, he said there was “an unexplained and significant cut in funding year-over-year, from the revised $94.4 million”.
“This would be comparing apples and oranges, because the Ministry has been restructured, as have been other Ministries,” said Mr Roban.
“Firstly, the number reflect near $30.4 million drop in estimated current account expenditure for the Ministry headquarters, down to almost $14.4 million of anticipated spending.
“Of that $14.4 million, $13.3 million comprises a grant to the Bermuda Airport Authority.
“The difference in current account expenditure is because this Ministry of Tourism, Transport & Municipalities, with a different set of spending priorities.
“We no longer provide a grant to the Bermuda Tourism Authority and are not responsible for funding initiatives such as the World Triathlon series,” he said.
“The largest part of our Budget – $21.6 million – is funding to ensure that Bermuda can have a dependable, public bus service,” he added.
The Minister echoed the Premier’s Budget Statement assertion that “rebuilding the bus fleet is a priority”, as part of Government’s commitment to produce “a reliable efficient and well-used service”.
To that end, he said: “The Ministry has also been provided capital acquisition resources of $3 million for the purchase of eight new buses.”
Moving forward, he said efforts continue to work on an “adjusted” bus schedule to reflect “the reality of the number of buses that we have”.
He also noted that details on the Government review of the airport redevelopment project will be released “shortly”.
The review, which was finished last month and the report is said to be near completion.
The Department of Marine and Ports Services was budgeted $20.25 million.
Both Marine and Ports and Public Transportation will move towards electronic fare collections in the year ahead.
“Public transport must be looking to the future, and a modern fare collection system will be a part of that,” said Mr Roban.
He also noted that “spending for the Transport Control Department (TCD) is expected to be about $5.38 million”.
TCD will also see system-upgrades in the coming year. Drivers licenses and identification cards will also be embedded with smart chips.
The Budget allocation for the Department of Energy is $783,000.
Another $500,000 has been allocated for “capital spending to restart the solar rebate programme”.
“This new rebate programme will be targeted at seniors on low or fixed incomes in order to reduce their electricity bills with solar-thermal water heating,” said Mr Roban.
Another $2.5 million in capital spending has been set aside for the Airport Authority for “a number of projects including the replacement of the ageing Doppler weather radar system, which in recent times has experienced a number of outages that have resulted in costly repairs”.
“The capital spending will also address ongoing code compliance works at the airport,” the Minister said.
“These compliance works include: repairs to the runway apron lighting and upgrades to the airline instrument landing system as well as the security fencing and CCTV.”
Government has also allocated $25,000 to the Bermuda Road Safety Council as part of their “significant steps towards making Bermuda’s roads safer in the coming year”, in a bid “to curb bad behaviour” that’s “too prevalent in Bermuda”.
The funds will be used “to establish an effective campaign to influence driver behaviour and attitudes on our roads”.
“This is more than twice the $11,000 provided to the Council a year ago,” he said.
“We are working with the Police and the Ministry of National Security on a number of fronts to make our roads safer, but we can’t do it without the help of the driving public.”
Said Mr Roban: “We need to exercise better judgment and far more care and caution on the road.”
- Feature Photo Courtesy of DCI