Transport Minister Zane DeSilva put taxi drivers and mini bus owners on notice that he has “the authority to grant up to 88 special taxi permits” and that he plans “to exercise this law”.
Highlighting 2019 Green Paper initiatives at a news conference on Wednesday (May 22) he said: “One of the main issues of concern for many members of the public and our visitors is the reliability of taxis, especially late afternoons and into the night.
“Under the Motor Taxi (Special Permit) Act 1970, I have the authority to grant up to eighty-eight (88) special taxi permits and I plan to exercise this law.”
“As a means to monitor and test the initiative, an initial twenty permits will be offered to first-time taxi owners to fill the gap in taxi service levels,” he added.
“I will review the taxi industry on a regular basis to determine if additional permits are required and if so, how many and when.
“These special permit holders will only be allowed on the road between 3pm to 6am, Monday through Sunday, including
holidays, and at current taxi rates.
“The fee for a special permit is under consideration but it is anticipated to be $2,000 for a four-seat taxi and $4,000 for a
seven-seat taxi, and the statutory specifications for a taxi will apply.
“To identify these special permit holders and to ensure they abide by the taxi regulations, the vehicles will have a unique colour
license plate,” he added
“We expect this initiative to get under way shortly and any person who has a valid taxi driver’s licence may apply to the Bermuda
Public Service Vehicle Licensing Board care of the Director at TCD.”
While noting “the challenges with public transportation in Bermuda, in particular the bus service”, he said the Department of Public Transportation (DPT) “recently concluded a Request for Information (RFI) for new buses, and is in the process of preparing a Request for Proposal (RFP)”.
“We are taking this opportunity to review the bus market and available vehicle types that meet Bermuda’s needs, as well as international public transportation standard,” said Mr DeSilva.
“In the interim and to provide some relief to the bus service, the Ministry will increase the maximum number of minibuses allowed
to operate to 180 which equates to about six thousand seats.
“Of this number, 20 minibuses will be wheelchair accessible with a lift or ramp.”
The Ministry will also “assess the impact of rental minicars on the island’s infrastructure” through to the end of this year.
“Depending on the outcome of the assessment, increase the number of rental minicars from the existing number of 300 up to
a maximum of 500,” said the Minister.
Following through on the Government’s 2017 Throne Speech promise “to conduct a thorough review of transportation”, he noted that “the Green Paper on the future of transport that will provide various options for modernisation”, “also takes into account the
needs of the differently-abled”.
“Government recognises that technology is modernising transportation globally and that Bermuda must examine those trends when taking into account the future of public and private transportation,” he said.
The Green Paper, tabled in the House of Assembly last Friday, has “caused us in the Ministry of Tourism & Transport to re-evaluate our short and long-term goals over the next five, ten and twenty years and focus on the future by making the necessary changes required to modernise our transportation infrastructure”, he added.
To address the issue of safety on Bermuda’s roads, the Ministry “has been working to improve the Project Ride Training Program”.
As of this month he said the road safety team has implemented the following:
- Instructors have completed the last stage of a 3 tier re-certification
- The student workbook is in full utilization
- No Entry” signs were created and are placed at the entrance to the course during practice to maintain a sterile environment
- Incident Reports were created to be used in the event of cycle damage, theft and the like
- Flashlight and container spotlights were purchased to aid with night-time instruction
- An official Examination Procedures document was created for testing of Project Ride candidates
A total of 160 students “successfully completed the programme” in the first four months of the year.
“And we are working on expanding the programme into the schools by creating a P5 school curriculum,” said Mr DeSilva.
“We are also working on having an additional location for the practice course in Devonshire. This is presently being mapped out
by Works & Engineering.
“The Project Ride curriculum is being reviewed and redrafted with a view to making improvements to it, and a donation of inoperable cycles to public senior schools to assist with training students in motor mechanics is also planned.
“On to the topic of alternative powered vehicles, the Government of Bermuda will set a goal date for Bermuda to ‘Go Green’ by
eliminating the importation of fossil fuel reliant vehicles (cars, bikes and trucks), recognizing the Government ought to lead by
example with respect to its own fleet of vehicles.”
“As we continue implementing many of the hundreds of recommendations offered over the consultation period, I want to thank our stakeholders, who included residents, students, and managers within public authorities, business groups and visitors,
for their contributions,” said Mr DeSilva.
“I want the public to know that many more suggestions will be taken into consideration as we move public policy forward.
“In closing, technology is changing very quickly and we must be able to adjust accordingly, and prepare for the future.”