Bus riders criticise new schedule
Fed-up bus users have blasted the new bus timetable — and predicted the service will get worse in the peak summer tourist season.
Passengers added that the new schedule, which uses fewer buses, appeared to have hit the West End of the island hardest.
The Royal Gazette spoke to Stacey Dunn, 54, from Southampton, at Hamilton bus terminal at lunchtime on Wednesday.
She said: “It’s not working. Fortunately for me, I am not making early hours, but for the people making 9am, it’s tough.”
Ms Dunn added: “I was in Somerset last summer and you had buses coming out of Dockyard full of tourists.
“What’s going to happen now if you lessen the number of buses?
“There’s the possibility for a lot of locals that once it comes out of Somerset, there won’t be any room.”
A 61-year-old woman, also from Somerset, said she had used a bus a week earlier and that it was “horrible”.
She explained: “This was a one-off because my husband was working late.
“I thought I would leave a little early from my job in town because I had heard how the new schedule was not working. I got there at 5pm and both the Number 7 and the 8 were full, no seats.”
The woman, who asked not to be named, said: “They got rid of the express, which was very convenient for St George’s as well as Somerset. So now the lines get ridiculously long.”
She added: “I have to give credit to the female bus driver, because she made the students get up to give people seats. She was complaining about the schedule, too.
“Who wants to stand on a bus all the way from Hamilton?
“So I’m sad to say that catching the bus is going to be my absolute last alternative.”
A hospital worker from Warwick’s Marley Beach, about 5pm the same day said he was waiting on the No 7.
He added morning and evening rush hour buses were often full. The man said: “A lot of people go into town early on this route.
“It’s wisest to get the first one in, because you’re not sure if the next one is going to be full.”
The man added that many hospital staff came into Hamilton to catch a bus because the buses were often packed to capacity by the time they reached the hospital in Point Finger Road, Paget.
He said: “Sometimes it’s even full by the time the bus gets from the terminal to Church Street.”
A 26-year-old man who works near Crow Lane and lives in Sandys backed the hospital worker.
The man said he had to catch a bus or walk into town at 5pm in a bid to get on board a No 7 or 8 bus because buses were full by the time they left the city.
He added that it was “okay right now because schools are out — but it will be worse next week”.
The Department of Public Transportation said yesterday that passenger views on the new schedule, introduced on March 18 by Zane DeSilva, the transport minister, were being reviewed.
A spokesman for the DPT said that problems identified with the timetable, which cut the number and frequency of buses, would get “immediate adjustments” where possible and that “others are noted for future iterations of the schedule”.
The spokesman insisted there were fewer delayed services this week and that sweeper buses had been “effective in relieving capacity issues during peak times”.
The second of eight new buses will arrive on April 14, with another to follow every three weeks.
The Riviera cruise ship, with a capacity of just 1,400 passengers, arrived in Dockyard yesterday.
But the Carnival Pride, with about 2,500 passengers on board, is scheduled to moor at King’s Wharf for two days from next Wednesday.
It will joined by the Norwegian Getaway with 3,900 passengers on Thursday.
Leah Scott, the Shadow Minister of Transport, said the new schedule was “a disaster”.
The Southampton East MP said: “The minister put out a message claiming that people were happy with the routes, but my constituents, particularly seniors, having been calling me upset because they’re not getting around.
“Kids aren’t getting to school on time and workers are having the same thing with their jobs.”
Ms Scott said she suspected senior management at the DPT had contributed to the transport problems.
She said: “Mr DeSilva is an astute businessman. He would not allow his own business to run this way.”
Ms Scott added: “I’m glad they are only imposing this for 18 months.
“At the same time, I can’t understand why we don’t have a permanent schedule with the consultants we hired.”
The Royal Gazette reported last week that Canadian firm Schedule Masters, which took in $1.6 million over 17 years to draw up the schedule, never had a contract with the Bermuda Government.
Ms Scott said: “That went on under the One Bermuda Alliance as well as the Progressive Labour Party, That’s unacceptable under either government.
“You can’t continue to pay out money and, at the end of the day, still not have a satisfactory product.”