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Buses called off the roads ʽuntil further notice’

Buses have been called off “until further notice”, the Ministry of Transport advised last night, as drivers remained off work after suspending service this afternoon.

Lawrence Scott, the transport minister, said last night that discussions were in progress with the Bermuda Industrial Union.

He added: “As the community can appreciate, like other frontline workers, that public transport providers are critical to keeping our economy active as we navigate this outbreak.”

He said he was confident union members shared the goal of enabling Bermudians unable to work remotely to get to their jobs.

Mr Scott said he hoped for an “amicable resolution in due course”.

It followed a suspension of services from 3pm to 7pm yesterday to allow for testing of staff after four bus drivers tested positive for the coronavirus this week.

Chris Furbert, the BIU president, said bus drivers were “up in arms” and concerned they might bring the virus home to their families.

"Because some of their colleagues tested positive, they just want to make sure that they’re fine and they’re not taking positive tests home to their family members.”

Drivers and other bus service staff were tested at the Department of Public Transportation headquarters on Palmetto Road, Devonshire, by personnel from Northshore Medical & Aesthetics Centre.

Mr Furbert said that tests were not mandatory, but added that those who declined had to sign a waiver.

He added: “They haven’t got to the point of making it mandatory, but I think at some point in time, looking at the current outbreak, you might have to make it mandatory for people who work in areas like public service.”

Mr Furbert also said: “I think it probably should be mandatory for everybody to get a test to make sure they’re Covid-free and they’re not going to be passing this virus on to somebody else.

“We’re not talking about having a business that you operate by yourself – you’re operating a public service vehicle where you’re interacting with the public and you’re interacting with your colleagues on a daily basis.

“You’re subject to come down with the virus at many point in time.”

The ferry service was not affected and yesterday afternoon the Department of Marine and Ports said that a special east end ferry service was being provided to help commuters seeking an alternative public transport route to St. George's.

A spokeswoman for the DPT confirmed the interruption to the buses around 2pm.

She added: “The Department sincerely regrets and apologises for any inconvenience caused by this stoppage.

“However the DPT is committed to ensuring that health and safety of its staff and the public is a priority.”

The special ferry was scheduled to leave Hamilton at 6pm.

The spokeswoman added: “This service is for today only, and is aimed at helping commuters who have been inconvenienced due to this afternoon's bus service interruption.”

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Published April 10, 2021 at 3:14 pm (Updated April 10, 2021 at 3:14 pm)

Buses called off the roads ʽuntil further notice’

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