Roban offers no guarantees on school buses
Bermuda's bus fleet is 25 vehicles short of a guaranteed service for schools, it was revealed yesterday.
Walter Roban, Minister of Transport and Regulatory Affairs, said he was unable to give a date for the school service to restart.
Mr Roban said: “Each day we are working to get more buses available. As more buses become available, they will be deployed to provide the service, so we can get back to a guaranteed service.”
A ministry spokesman said 88 buses had to be on the road to provide school runs, but only 63 were in service.
Mr Roban said the inability to provide guaranteed transport for pupils was a temporary situation.
He said: “We will provide service, but we cannot guarantee all the service that we have been committed to providing.”
The ministry spokesman said that the Department of Public Transportation had prioritised regular bus routes that included school stops, “particularly for primary and middle school students”.
The spokesman added: “For CedarBridge Academy and the Berkeley Institute, dedicated school buses will be provided in the afternoons as regularly as possible.”
He added a liaison officer would provide daily updates to the Ministry of Education.
Mr Roban said lack of money prevented the use of minibuses, which were last year used to back up the bus fleet in the second part of the school year.
He admitted there may be days when the Government was “challenged” to meet demand for buses.
A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Education said that attendance numbers for CedarBridge and Berkeley for the first two days of the new term were “not available”.
Mr Roban said parents would be told about service shortfalls “as soon as we know what our capability is”.
He added: “I would advise that parents certainly be mindful of the bus availability in the morning and the bus availability in the afternoon when their children get out of school. We're going to be doing everything we can to make sure that people are aware.”
Mr Roban said one new bus was “on the ship” and bound for Bermuda. Four new buses are expected on the island by March or April.
Mr Roban added that the Government was in the process of finalising funds to buy more buses “as soon as possible”.
He said that the Government also planned to invest around $700,000 in a refurbishment programme for the current bus fleet “which we believe will immediately help the situation”.
Mr Roban estimated a long-term investment of around $15 million would allow for the replacement of about half the fleet.
He said five to ten new buses each year would help boost the standard of the service and that he had been in contact with education minister Diallo Rabain on a daily basis over the potential impact of a lack of transport for pupils.
The education ministry added acting commissioner Kalmar Richards, principals and administrators were “working with students to alleviate any issues arising from limited bus service”.
A spokeswoman added: “Principals and teachers are communicating with parents that their children will not be penalised for coming late because of bus services and that plans will be put in place for any instructional time missed.
“As a school community, parents, teachers and students, we are all working together until the current situation is resolved.
“We are making adjustments as needed in all the schools so that teaching and instruction time are not disrupted.”