$3m to be spent on new buses in 2012
Government will spend $3 million replacing the ageing vehicles in Bermuda’s public bus fleet, Transport Minister Derrick Burgess announced yesterday.
He told a press conference the Department of Public Transportation (DPT) had been allocated the funds to buy replacement buses.
“These vehicles will adhere to the latest in clean air standards, serve to reduce the weighted average age of the fleet and increase fleet reliability,” said the Deputy Premier.
“DPT’s oldest buses that are less reliable and have become increasingly costly to operate will be retired. Presently, the average age of the fleet is 7.8 [years old].”
Public Transportation aims to have a maximum of 15 buses out of service daily but the average was 18 in 2010 and 25 in 2009, according to Government’s latest Budget Book.
The proportion of the fleet out of service for parts should not be more than 20 percent but was 23 percent in 2010 and 25 percent in 2009.
Mr Burgess said three extra mechanics would be recruited in 2012/13 to work late shifts, with the blessing of the Bermuda Industrial Union (BIU), and $900,000 more would be spent on parts.
“At present, some of the problems lie in the fact that the negotiated settlement has the mechanics working from Monday through Friday, eight hours a day, when our operation is a seven-day one, 19 hours per day.”
Mr Burgess added: “We will be keeping a keen eye on the situation with respect to getting our children home from school.”
The Minister promised to look into problems with the information screens at the bus terminal in Hamilton, which he said he was not aware had not been working
The Department of Public Transportation gets a $19.6 million budget for the next financial year, $1.2 million less than its revised budget for 2011/12.
The public bus service is allocated $10 million from that, with overall expected revenue of $8.1 million.
Marine and Ports, which is responsible for the Island’s ferry service, gets a budget of $19.1 million, $270,000 less that its 2011/12 allocation.
The cost of running the ferry service is estimated as $7.3 million, with expected revenue of little more than $1 million.
Mr Burgess told yesterday’s press conference he was not in favour of privatising public transport.
The former Bermuda Industrial Union president said he couldn’t support such a move with “my background”.
“I guess you know my reasons,” he added.
He said he didn’t know of any country which had solved the problem of making public transportation profitable, adding: “I think a country must have a system where people can get on and move around.”
His comments came after Premier Paula Cox said in a statement on Tuesday that Government would consider “partnering” with the private sector.
She said: “Efficiency reviews will take place in all Ministries to improve service delivery and get the best value for taxpayers’ dollars.”
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