Government looks at bolstering ageing fleet
The potential of purchasing second-hand ferries to bolster the Island's ageing fleet is being explored by Government.
Transport Minister Shawn Crockwell confirmed that talks were under way over the prospect of buying used ferries from abroad that were in good condition to ensure that the Island could cope with the large number of visitors expected for the America's Cup.
His comments came as the Millennium ferry underwent routine maintenance work in the United States before it returns to Bermuda at the end of the month to work the Dockyard-St George's route.
“We are looking at second-hand ferries in good condition for a long-term remedy to this situation,” Mr Crockwell said.
“The age of our fleet is an area of concern. But our ferries are in good shape considering their age and have been well maintained.
“We will have to continue to work with what we have got, but it is prudent to start looking for replacements.
“We have started that process, although we don't anticipate any purchases this summer.”
This summer's ferry schedule reveals a reduction in the service between Watford Bridge and Hamilton, which is expected to save about $500,000.
But Mr Crockwell said that he did not believe the schedule would cause local passengers or visitors too much inconvenience.
The Millennium ferry, which has been leased by the Government and has bolstered the fleet over the past three years, is expected to return to Bermuda on April 28 in time to start the service between Dockyard and St George's in the week starting May 4.
Mr Crockwell said the Millennium had proved a valuable asset, but dismissed criticism from some quarters that Government would have saved money if it had simply bought it rather than leased it.
“The Millennium will be in service for a slightly shorter window of five months this year compared to the six months it was operating last year,” he said.
“It has transported more than 250,000 to St George's since it came to Bermuda and has fulfilled a very important role.
“I would like to clarify that this boat was never for sale at the time it was initially leased by the Government.
It had been previously, but then the owner took it off the market.”