No agreement on new bus schedule
Bus operators failed to ratify a new schedule following a two-hour meeting with management of the Department of Public Transportation (DPT) yesterday. And once again, its back to the drawing board on an issue dating back to 1998.
Bermuda Industrial Union President Chris Furbert confirmed DPT has agreed to go over the issues raised in this latest round of talks and report back in due course.
A DPT spokesman said the department will continue to work with the union to resolve the outstanding concerns of their members and will keep the public advised on progress.
The meeting, held at the Ocean View Golf Club, interrupted service for about three hours from 9.30am through to 12.30pm.
In an interview with The Royal Gazette, Mr Furbert said ultimately it comes down to forcing a Canadian model into a Bermuda scenario.
The mere fact that the rosters we have now have been the subject of talks for the better part of five years or more is one of the main concerns. We have rosters done in 1998 that were agreed to so why is it so challenging now?
I honestly think theyre trying to take a system from another country and make it work in Bermuda, said Mr Furbert. We have three depots, Fort Langton, one in St Georges and we have Dockyard in 21 square miles.
Canadian consultant David Reid has introduced a roster thats designed for a Canadian transit bus system and therein lies the problem. He doesnt have as much involvement as hes had before but we believe that these rosters can be done locally.
When asked if Mr Reid is still getting paid to produce rosters now, some 14 years later, Mr Furbert replied: I have no idea whether or not hes still getting paid, you will have to go and ask DPT that.
As for the outstanding issues at this stage he said: I think what happened today was frustrations in respect to this whole question about changeovers or whats referred to as swinging in and swinging out.
Everyday theres 25 to 30 changeovers that have to take place the central terminal and about 18 or so that have to take place at Fort Langton. So overall theres between 45 to 50 changeovers that have to happen on a regular basis.
Mr Furbert added: There is a process that should be happening right now that is not happening. For instance, theres a checklist of 16 things the operators are supposed to be doing before they start their run.
To start a run at 6am or 12pm, they are supposed to go through the checklist before they start driving, and apparently for whatever reason everyone has dropped the ball here because that hasnt been happening on a regular basis.
The operators decided today that as of now they will make sure that happens, said Mr Furbert. But they anticipate problems when there are problems with the buses during changeovers; so we have all these underlying issues that need to be worked out.
He confirmed that BIU Organiser Louis Somner met with DPT Director Dan Simmons after the meeting and informed him of the issues the operators have with the new schedule.
Another issue has to do with the amount of weekends those who work out of Dockyard have off. We have consecutive weekends off but the workers said thats really an incentive for them, but if they have a Wednesday and a Saturday or Sunday off, they dont have to have consecutive days off.
If it means it gets them more weekends off in Dockyard, then lets work on that, said Mr Furbert. We have some challenges with the new schedule and Im hoping that we can work through it.
Some of the operators would like to have split days, some of the rosters would have a day off during the week and also a Sunday off. We have also asked that any vacations already requested for the year would stay in place.
And then theres the swing off and swing on out of the central terminal when it comes to buses that are damaged or having mechanical problems during the changeover.
Will the supervisor be present to verify any damages when one driver is taking over for another, he asked. We did get a response back from Mr Simmons for most of these items but the workers still have some questions going forward.
This is a lif- changing operation for the operators and they just want make sure it goes right, he said. The operators believe these current rosters on the table actually takes them backwards.
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