Opinion

Bus route ‘finish line’ disappearing into the horizon

  • Leah Scott

Sadly, Mr and Mrs Bermuda remain stranded, as the Department of Public Transportation does not yet appear to have presented a workable set of bus rosters to the bus operators.

I read with great astonishment Chris Furbert’s statement that “we are so much closer today than we were 17 years ago ... we’re at the finish line; we are right there where we need to be”.

It is astounding and, indeed, downright appalling to me that some 17 years later — and, yes, the One Bermuda Alliance administration also falls within that period — and several hundreds of thousands of dollars later, Chris Furbert can say with a straight face that we are right where we need to be!

It should be equally as appalling to every single taxpayer who has funded this decade-and-a-half-long travesty with our tax dollars. Perhaps if Mr Furbert had to use and rely on public transportation, he wouldn’t be so cavalier.

My understanding is that the 1998 bus roster was prepared by former bus operators. You know, the people who actually do the work and understand the routes. It is also my understanding that the Canadian consultant that has been working with the DPT also has an associate working with him on the rosters.

If one consultant cannot get it done, then I guess two can? How much more money, inconvenience and frustration do Bermudians have to endure before this situation is resolved?

Mr Furbert stated at his press conference that the updated rosters would be presented to the workers this week — maybe Tuesday — and that there would be a 21-day picking cycle from the time of the posting of the rosters.

Well, folks, yesterday was Tuesday. There were nine bus cancellations in the morning and a staggering 40 routes were cancelled in the afternoon. This after there were 33 runs cancelled on Friday.

We are heading into our tourist season. Thanks to the mammoth efforts of the Bermuda Tourism Authority, our tourism numbers are increasing, not decreasing, and this year looks to be another record year in terms of visitor numbers.

It is regrettable that our public transportation system is not keeping pace and, disappointingly, is fast becoming less and less of a viable option for the general public. We have spent a ton of money in our efforts to obtain reliable transportation, but instead of progress, it continues to regress.

Although subsidised by taxpayers’ dollars, public transportation is not a social welfare program me — it is a vitally essential public utility. Mr Furbert may think we are at the finish line, and the Government may believe that it’s OK to continue to cancel bus routes daily, but the truth of the matter is that public transportation is a lifeline for people who literally have no other way to get around. It’s about time that public transportation was treated as such.

Mr Furbert, we are nowhere near the finish line ... in fact, we haven’t even left the depot.

Leah Scott is Deputy Opposition leader, the Shadow Minister of Tourism and Transport, and the MP for Southampton East Central (Constituency 30)