Bermuda’s public bus system experienced a “learning curve” over its problems getting a new schedule up and running, the transport minister said.
Zane DeSilva told MPs in the House on Friday that the decision to revert to the old bus schedule “was not taken lightly, but was the only recourse to address the concerns of our passengers and operators”.
Mr DeSilva said that the new 50-bus schedule, which came into effect on March 18, had been “insufficient to meet the demands of our commuters, visitors and students”.
He added: “Additionally, there were challenges with the rest times between some trips, presenting health and safety concerns for bus operators and the travelling public.”
Mr DeSilva said that the scrapped schedule “is an advancement to build on as we move forward”.
He added: “The ministry, unions and Department of Public Transportation have fostered stronger working relations, demonstrated in part by our ability to agree the definition of night work and collectively develop and implement work rosters.”
Mr DeSilva said that the replenishment of the bus fleet remained a priority and that the average in-service bus count over the last year was up to 65 buses from 50 as a result of new bus purchases, refits and repairs.
He added: “We have taken possession of six new buses in the past year, with a further six arriving between June and September.”
Mr DeSilva said that the DPT had recently completed a request for information for new buses and was in the process of preparing a request for proposal.
He said: “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 standards.
“This includes consideration for sustainability and the environment, appropriately sized buses, accessibility, on-board features, and total cost of ownership.”
Mr DeSilva said that the Government would also invest in human resources.
He added: “We are in the process of recruiting for a variety of posts including vehicle technicians, operators and support staff.”
The new bus schedule was first announced at a press conference last December.
It was originally set to take effect on January 7 but was postponed twice that month after staff raised concerns about rosters and night work.
Canadian company Schedule Masters Inc was paid more than $1.6 million over 17 years to create the new bus schedule, which lasted for six weeks.
• To read Zane DeSilva’s statement in full, click on the PDF link under “Related Media”