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School minibus service to cost $1.3m this year

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Lawrence Scott, the Minister of Transport, outlines the budget for his ministry (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

A total of $1.3 million has been earmarked to pay for minibuses to take children to and from school this year, the Transport Minister revealed yesterday.

Lawrence Scott also announced that $6.6 million would be put towards the purchase of electric buses, although the number of e-buses was not disclosed.

Mr Scott added that the Department of Public Transportation was working with its lowest number of buses and drivers since the 1960s.

He added buses and ferries could also get wi-fi and “real-time digital fare media” in the future.

The buses and ferries will also get a change in schedules to make them “budget-friendly”, as well as reliable.

Mr Scott said: “Our aim is that by next year our commuters can be certain that all of our scheduled buses will arrive on time.”

He added: “To say this past year has been tough is an understatement and the impact on our day-to-day commuters has been unprecedented.

“Through it all, we were able to find $1.3 million from vacant posts, as well as other operational savings resulting from curfew and lockdown periods, to contract minibuses for dedicated school runs.”

“This budget allows the ministry to lay the foundation on which we can provide consistent, reliable, sustainable service that will be outlined in the soon-to-be released 2021 Mobility Strategy.

“This strategy will highlight top-level priorities within the ministry and the action plan to achieve them over the next three years,” said Mr Scott.

Mr Scott, flanked by Renee Ming, the Minister of National Security, was speaking as he outlined the budget his ministry.

Curtis Dickinson, the finance minister, set the transport budget at $59.1 million in last Friday’s blueprint for the new financial year – a $42.7 million decrease on last year.

Mr Scott said the removal of tourism-related responsibilities, such as the Bermuda Tourism Authority grant and hotel administration, which have been moved to the Ministry of the Cabinet Office, would account for $22.8 million.

He added an additional $824,000 would come from a cut in professional services and the loss of responsibility for the Bermuda Airport Authority’s grant.

Mr Scott added that the Department of Public Transportation would shed $2.8 million from its budget by the defunding of vacant posts, overtime cuts and reduction in administrative costs.

He said that air services would be expanded through a joint scheme run by the Bermuda Airport Authority and the Bermuda Tourism Authority.

Mr Scott added that the Air Service Development Committee would look into travel opportunities in the Caribbean and transition charter flights to the Azores to a “seasonally scheduled weekly service”.

Mr Scott said that the Azores flights would allow people to extend their travel options into Europe and “serve the underserved”.

He added Transport Control Department services are expected to remain the same, despite a loss of $955,000 from its budget.

Mr Scott said the cuts would be achieved by the postponement of “miscellaneous projects”.

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Published March 05, 2021 at 8:46 am (Updated March 05, 2021 at 8:46 am)

School minibus service to cost $1.3m this year

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