A Ministry of Transport spokesman put Bermuda’s bus commuting public on notice this evening, that there is a “risk that the bus service will not run tomorrow, on Monday, Heroes Day 2018 in Bermuda.
The news comes on the eve on not just a holiday weekend, but on the day before more than one cruise ship will be in port. In fact, there are actually three ships due in on the public holiday.
In a statement issued shortly after 4pm this afternoon, the spokesman confirmed that the Department of Public Transportation (DPT) was officially “advised of a work-to-rule starting at 10am on Friday, June 15”.
“The BIU membership has interpreted this to include holiday work, regardless of whether or not it forms part of the employees’ weekly work schedule.
“Management does not agree with this interpretation and distinguishes between regular shift work taking place on a holiday and overtime for those working more than their normal 37.5 hours per week. As with many other service providers, the Bus service is a 365-day per year operation, which necessitates working holidays, weekends and shift work.
“Owing to this impasse in the interpretation of overtime, there is a risk that the bus service will not run tomorrow, Monday, June 18th,” he said.
“DPT apologizes for the inconvenience to the traveling public and is committed to restoring full service as soon as possible.”
Earlier today, in a statement issued shortly after noon, the spokesman said: “As a result of incorrect information circulating in the community, fueled by media, the Department of Public Transportation would like to clarify the status of the public bus service for the public holiday on Monday.
“There is an outstanding dispute between DPT and its unionized workers. DPT and the Bermuda Industrial Union are working through the issues, based on the Collective Bargaining Agreement.”
He noted that the daily newspaper quoted unnamed sources that buses will not run on the public holiday Monday because mechanics will not be working.
“This is not true,” the spokesman said.
“Monday is a public holiday and as a result, the majority of bus mechanics will be off on holiday, as per normal.
This does not determine whether the service operates.
“Notwithstanding the ongoing labour dispute, the bus service will operate on Monday, per the published holiday schedule.
“There are three cruise ships in Dockyard on Monday, although DPT no longer provides charter services for passengers. DPT stopped providing charter services last year.
“For the second year, the main transportation out of Dockyard will be ferries, minibuses and taxis.
“Only regularly scheduled buses serve Dockyard, and, as stated, the normal Sunday/Public Holiday schedule will apply.
“As has been the case for many months, there may be route cancellations due to a shortage of available buses. Any cancellations will be informed per the twice-daily bus alerts.
“The work to rule means drivers will not work overtime. If there is a shortage of drivers, this may result in route cancellations. It’s difficult to say in advance if, and to what extent, cancellations will occur.”
It should be noted however, that a large bulk of cruise ship passengers disembark with buses passes in hand, bus passes sold on board the cruise ships, while en route to Bermuda.
Taxi operators, minibus operators and ferry workers will tell you at the drop of the hat that prior to their arrival, most cruise ship passengers know very little, if nothing about other forms of transportation available to them once in Bermuda.
And most west end bus commuters will tell you that cruise ship season for them means watching buses drive by them filled to capacity, and then some.
On any given day there could be up to 60 or more buses out of service. And on Friday, June 15, the DPT announced that there were 147 bus cancellations.
An emergency meeting was held on Saturday evening with bus operators. What the bottom line will be on bus service on Monday, Heroes Day, remains to be seen.