Transport Minister Wayne Furbert stands by the ridesharing pilot initiative announced last week, set to go into effect for one year, despite the outright rejection of the scheme by the island’s taxi operators.

In a statement released tonight, the Minister said: “The introduction of Ridesharing is a promise made and a promise on which are actively delivering.

“This is the long-awaited response to the challenges of transportation availability during specific periods, most notably evenings, weekends, and holidays,” said the Minister.

“Tourism stakeholders have reported that the number one complaint of our visitors relates to transportation and their ability to move around the Island, particularly in the evenings and weekends.,” he added.

“The 2019 Transport Green Paper recognised the consistent and ongoing gaps in providing adequate transportation during these hours. Since 2019, we have had numerous meetings with our industry partners.”

As for talks with the Bermuda Taxi Owners Association (BTOA) leading up to the recent announcement, Mr Furbert insisted that the island needs more “transportation options, and they must be available 24/7”.

This he said was “the overwhelming and consistent refrain in our discussions”.

“The introduction of the Rideshare initiative is intended to bring more transportation options to customers when they need it most,” he added.

“Ridesharing uses a mobile app so that passengers can request a ride at their convenience, track the operator’s arrival, and make cashless payments.

“The rideshare permit will mean that permit holders can only be dispatched through several Bermuda-based online dispatch platforms, ensuring a controlled and orderly ridesharing service.”

Moving forward, he said: “This is new to Bermuda and can only be tested in real time.

“With 150 permits to be made available, a one-year pilot programme will give us the opportunity to determine what works best, collect necessary data, and build on the programme to the benefit of the public.

“This initiative does require legislation and when the House returns in May, that will be among our priorities.”

Some additional highlights of Ridesharing in Bermuda are as follows:

  • Requiring a rideshare operator to secure a public service vehicle license means that the public can be assured that the operator has been vetted and is suitable to be engaged in public transport. To apply for a public service vehicle, license the process is set out at www.tcd.bm and all interested persons should consult the website.
  • This is a seasonal service and as such the license fee of $1,000 is an equitable cost for the entrepreneur seeking to enter this new market.
  • Operates daily from April 1 – September 30, and only on weekends and holidays the rest of the year.
  • Participating insurance companies have agreed to collaborate with the Ministry to establish a practical approach to coverage to also ensure maximum safety for the travelling public.

Minister Furbert concluded: “These issues are not new, but technology is providing an opportunity to address them.

“In the last 20 years, we have seen dedicated hotel shuttles, increased ‘gypsy cabs’ and rapid growth in the minibus sector, all developing to meet the need to move people.

“There can be no doubt that the demand exists, and we are committed to working with all of those who provide transport service to the public to eliminate that number one complaint of visitors relating to transport.”

We’ll have more in subsequent reports.