No checks being made on taxi hours

No checks are made to ensure taxis are on the roads for the required 16 hours a day, the Transport Control Department has admitted.

The department confirmed that it had not kept records since 2010 as a result of “a policy decision”.

A TCD spokeswoman said: “The information regarding the number of hours a taxi is on the road is not currently available. This subject is under review.”

The Royal Gazette quizzed the department after taxi services struggled to keep up with demand when the island’s first roadside breath test checkpoints went into operation last month.

More checkpoints are scheduled to be set up this weekend.

Taxi operators complained that cabs operating from Hamilton were caught up in delays caused by the checkpoints.

David Frost, president of the Bermuda Taxi Owners Association, said: “We believe that during the testing period of roadside sobriety checkpoints they should have a fast lane for taxis — many of the taxis were stuck.

“A normal stop is fine but during those checkpoints they should let us go so we can drop our customers off. Just during that period of time.”

The TCD spokeswoman said officials were aware of the potential for disruption.

She added: “The ministry understood going into road sobriety checkpoints that there may be some inconveniences and some challenges with the availability of taxis or minibuses during the late evening hours and early hours of the morning.

“Also, the minister was clear in the House of Assembly that public buses will not be running during the early hours of the morning.

“The public was urged to secure a designated driver or make transportation arrangements in advance if they intended to consume alcohol.”

Members of the public have complained a lack of taxis was common late on weekend nights — a peak time for people who have been drinking and need transport home.

The Ministry of Transport is to publish a Green Paper on transport which will ask for the views of the public.

The transport spokeswoman said the paper will look at whether more taxis were needed to keep up with demand.

Mr Frost added a major concern among taxi drivers was the lack of security.

The TCD spokeswoman said: “All dispatchers are required to provide equipment that has a panic feature for emergencies.

“We support steps to enhance the safety and security of taxis such as internal cameras.

“The green paper process will provide opportunity to further address security.”

There are 600 licensed taxis in Bermuda.

But TCD said 30 were listed as off the road at the end of April for “various reasons”.

There are 80 temporary taxi licences which can be used to supplement the taxi fleet, but none are in use.

The TCD spokeswoman said a decision on whether the temporary licences would be used would be determined by the findings of the Green Paper.

She added: It is a matter under active consideration.”

A central dispatch centre for all taxis is also being looked at.