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Mechanical problems behind bus disruption

Shawn Crockwell, the Minister of Transport

Mechanical problems and minor faults are the reason behind the latest spate of bus cancellations, according to Shawn Crockwell, the Minister of Transport.

The Bermuda Government announced a succession of buses were out of action this week following a comparatively uninterrupted service over the past few months.

Earlier in the year there had been numerous cancellations owing to staff illnesses, sick leave and members of staff on vacation.

Mr Crockwell said that while these issues have largely been resolved, there has been a “huge spike” in vehicles coming out of service for reasons including accidents, tyre changes and small electrical repairs.

He said the transport department’s technical staff have made significant progress in returning buses to service and are confident that they will continue to lower the number of buses out of service.

Mr Crockwell told The Royal Gazette: “A few weeks ago I got an update about the bus service and the out of service level was pretty low. It is one of those things where there were some unexpected situations.

“When I got the report I was pleased as everything seemed to be going in the right direction.

“I don’t like when there are individuals who are stranded and I feel that we have to do everything in our power to make sure that we have sufficient buses for all the routes and then do our absolute best to inform the public when there is going to be a cancellation.

“Having someone at a bus stop trying to get to work or a student trying to get to school and a bus doesn’t show up, to me, is not acceptable so it is something we are looking at as a matter of priority and we hope to address it.”

Mr Crockwell reiterated that the department had completed the process of training 15 bus drivers and said that more were being recruited.

While staffing levels are not up to full capacity, he said: “We are at a level that can provide the service that we need without the cancellations.

“We are keeping an eye on the overall level of staffing because of the budget but this is an area that the Minister of Finance [Bob Richards] understands needs sufficient levels. We bought 16 new buses and have four more coming but we are dealing with an old fleet. New buses hadn’t been purchased until 2009 in my recollection and normally, to keep a fleet like this fresh and very efficient, you have to buy a few new buses every year.

“In the grand scheme of things it is a small percentage of cancellations but it becomes a real issue when, perhaps a school bus is cancelled and that causes unnecessary disquiet.”