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Transport boss apologises for bus cancellations

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The official ribbon cutting to launch Bermuda’s new fleet of electric buses (Photograph supplied)

Bus cancellations have hit an “unprecedented” level, the Director of the Department of Public Transportation admitted as he apologised to passengers for the state of the service.

Roger Todd insisted that the situation was now being resolved after mechanical failures and spare parts shortages were blamed for a spate of bus route stoppages.

Mr Todd delivered the apology as a fleet of new electric buses was officially launched outside Hamilton City Hall yesterday.

The Transport Director said: “I would like to apologise to the public and our visitors to the service interruption and for the unprecedented level of cancellations.

“We have taken partial delivery of the tyre order. We see this as an issue that has been resolved.”

Mr Todd said taking the school run out of the summer schedules would free-up more vehicles.

He said: “The agreement … to resume the summer roster will require less buses and that will be effective from next Monday.

“Plus, we now have ten of the electric buses in service.

“So that combination of repairs, new buses, and resolving the supply chain issue, as well as the summer rosters, will bring relief to the cancellations next week.

“And once all 30 electric buses are in service, we expect these cancellations to significantly reduce.”

The comments come after buses were off the road for a number of hours yesterday when drivers held talks with management to express their concerns about the service, working conditions, and the introduction of electric vehicles.

At the launch ceremony for the first of 30 electric buses on the island, Lawrence Scott, the Transport Minister, denied that lack of wheelchair access meant that disabled passengers were being treated as second-class citizens.

Inside an electric bus

The shock of the electric bus is the near silky smooth silence of the ride.

With a pair of scissors nearly as big as the passenger anger at constant cancellations to the service, Walter Roban, the Deputy Premier, snipped a ribbon to officially launch the first ten of 30 electric vehicles.

Following a public apology from the Director Transport about the current, woeful state of the bus service, the electric age began in earnest.

And then we were off – Ministers, dignitaries from the Golden Dragon Bus Company, and the attendant media were whisked around downtown Hamilton.

Good news for passengers with low phone batteries is the Government had thought of putting in handy USB charging sockets at every seat.

Driver Anthony Smith, who has been on the buses since 2017, said the switch-over from diesel was like “night and day”.

Given that too many passengers feel it seems like they spend night and day waiting for a bus to turn-up, let’s hope the Golden Dragon fleet usher in a new golden age of mass transportation.

The Minister insisted the Government had not got it wrong by failing to make the electric fleet more disabled-friendly.

He said: “No, we do not believe we made a mistake.

“We believe that we can provide a better service for those that are differently abled than if we have to rely on the public transportation system.

“The ministry is … looking to create a paratransit, network which would be separate from the actual BTB buses.

“We are now looking to go for a more on-demand service for those that are differently abled.

“We already have 17 minibuses that are on the island.

“It is easier to have the vehicle go to the customer in that case than it is for the customer to come down to the public bus stop.”

Mr Scott said that the electric buses were environmentally friendly and designed to better navigate the island’s narrow roads.

The minister said the cost of maintaining the new buses was half that of the diesel fleet.

As part of the Government’s economic recovery plan, interim charging stations at Dockyard, St George and Fort Langton bus depots are being constructed to support the initial 30 buses until the permanent charging infrastructure is complete.

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Published April 14, 2022 at 7:49 am (Updated April 14, 2022 at 7:49 am)

Transport boss apologises for bus cancellations

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