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Furbert: at finish line for bus schedule

  • Hitting back: Chris Furbert, president of the BIU (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

The head of the island’s blue-collar union hit back yesterday after the shadow transport minister criticised the stalled implementation of a new bus schedule.

Chris Furbert, the president of the Bermuda Industrial Union, said the new schedule had been years in the making.

He added: “We are so much closer today than we were 17 years ago.

“So for the MP to imply that something is up — we’re at the finish line; we are right there where we need to be.

“For her to imply that certain things are going on — nothing is going on.”

Mr Furbert was speaking after One Bermuda Alliance MP Leah Scott questioned the reasons for the delay in an article published in The Royal Gazette at the weekend.

The deputy Opposition leader said that bus cancellations this month had ranged from “three routes being cancelled to up to 26 cancellations”.

She added that a Canadian consultant had been paid “copious amounts of money” to create a new bus schedule.

Ms Scott asked: “What is really going on here? This is completely unacceptable.

“Mr and Mrs Bermuda, and the public in general, deserve so much better.”

Mr Furbert said that he had met Zane DeSilva, the transport minister, and officials about the schedule on Monday.

He said that he could not discuss what was talked about, but that he expected there would be an announcement from the ministry “between now and Friday”.

Mr Furbert said that members voted against the new schedule because several of the new rosters involved union members working “more than one piece of night work”.

But he added that most of his members’ complaints had been dealt with.

Mr Furbert said the revised schedule would go back to the rank and file for a vote “probably one day next week”.

He added: “We believe they will accept it.”

Mr Furbert said that the new schedule could begin 21 days after it had been agreed upon by union members.

Mr DeSilva announced the new schedule at a press conference on December 13.

Roger Todd, head of the Department of Public Transportation, and Mr Furbert also spoke at the event.

Mr Todd said at the press event that the winter 2019 schedule would take effect on January 7.

The start date was later pushed back two weeks to January 21.

But a government spokeswoman confirmed on January 11 that the new schedule would not start on January 21 and that “information regarding a new effective date will be forthcoming”.

The spokeswoman confirmed yesterday that the rosters “are now being adjusted”.

She added: “The Department of Public Transportation and the Bermuda Industrial Union are close to completing work needed to address the longstanding issues relating to rostered night work.

“The DPT and the BIU look forward to finalising these changes and providing a revised start date for the new bus schedule.”

The 2019 Winter Bus Schedule is online at gov.bm/bus.