MP: Taxi driver put passenger with broken leg in cab’s boot
A taxi driver would not let a visitor who had just broken his leg get in his cab due to the fact he was ‘wet’, and instead would only carry him in the trunk, Wayne Caines told MPs on Friday.
The chairman of the Bermuda Tourism Authority used the extraordinary incident to highlight his call for “honest talks” on the issue of taxi availability on the island.
The Progressive Labour Party MP said a BTA survey had highlighted lack of available transport as the biggest tourism concern in Bermuda.
He told the House of Assembly: “The thing that caused the most concern, on record, documented, put in writing, to the BTA was transportation, local transportation.
“They lamented that it was difficult, if not impossible, to get transport from the airport to go to the hotel, to come back from the hotel, to go to events, to go to diner and to come home.
“I have brothers in the PLP that are taxi drivers, you will never be able to tell your grandchildren that I spoke negatively about taxi drivers, taxi owners, taxi operators.
“But, what we must discuss is that we now have an opportunity to hold each other accountable.
“We must now talk to our taxi owners and our taxi operators, understanding that these men and women have kept this country on their shoulders for years.
“What we can say is that there is a requirement by law for taxis to be on the road for a specific amount of hours, now they must be held to account for that.”
Mr Caines then told MPs about the incident involving an injured visitor who was trying to get a taxi ride so he could get treatment for a broken leg.
He said: “The taxi driver comes, he notices that the tourist is soaking wet, his first words were ‘you cannot get in my taxi wet’.
“He (the tourist) says ‘look, my leg is clearly broken. I can’t get an ambulance because I am not insured in Bermuda’.
“The taxi driver said ‘I cannot put you in my taxi wet’.
“People come out of the local store, they come over, they say ‘listen, please, please, his leg is broken’. The taxi driver says ‘this is my bread and butter, I cannot put him wet in my taxi’.
“This man (the tourist) is reeling in pain. The taxi driver says ‘the only thing I can do as a compromise, is put you in the trunk’.
“He takes the tourist, and two workers take him, he opens the trunk... and places the tourist in the hatchback of the car and he goes down the street.
“I would never decry the men and women who drive taxis in Bermuda.
“I give that example to say that we have to have an honest conversation.
“We have to have a conversation about the night time economy... when people are saying – that we have pushed – that you cannot drink and drive, to leave your cars at home – we must have taxis on the road to get people back.
“Ask the restaurateur, as the hotelier, what is the thing they want to see most in Bermuda?
“We have to have these honest conversations without guile, without fear. Honest conversations we must now all come to the table – the transportation issue in this country.
“I will not decry the minister of tourism, the minister of transport, but we have to fix the bus schedule on the South Shore.
“This is for real... at six o’clock in the summer and you see 300 tourists lining the side of the street.
“How outrageous. This is our responsibility.
“We are talking about collective responsibility.”
The BTA head said that some tourists said some Bermudians they encountered were unfriendly.
Mr Caines told the House of Assembly: “We have to understand that service does not mean servitude.
“So, people are saying that when they come to Bermuda that they go into a hotel and they spend $700 a night and people are not nice, they are not friendly.”
After leaving the parliamentary chamber, Mr Caines told The Royal Gazette: “What I would like to see are key elements working together.
“So, you will never hear me speaking out against any entity, or putting blame on anyone.
“The most important thing is to make sure that everyone works together.
“It is crystal clear that this is a solid opportunity for us as stakeholders to work together. When we talk about blame that is not going to get us any further.”
Mr Caines said that the tourism industry needed to show its Bermudian workers that there was a career ladder for them in the trade.
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