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Bus drivers back at work after meetings with management

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Bus operators met at the Bermuda Industrial Union headquarters in Pembroke this morning. Pictured at centre is Chris Furbert, the president of the BIU, with operators (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Bus drivers will move to their summer rosters next Monday, and this should result in fewer service cancellations, the Government said last night.

The announcement came after services were cancelled yesterday morning for meetings between drivers and management.

The operators met with management to discuss electric buses and rosters, as well as ways to reduce cancellations and improve the service.

A second meeting was then held with Bermuda Industrial Union members only, to discuss the union’s general delegates meeting due to take place in August.

Although the meetings finished by 1pm, many residents complained buses did not return to service until later in the afternoon.

Buses were cancelled this morning owing to a meeting of bus operators (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

A Government spokeswoman said last night: “The Department of Public Transportation held a meeting today with staff from bus operations. The discussion was productive and it was agreed that the public bus schedule, using the Summer Rosters, will commence on April 18.

“While the public bus schedule remains unchanged, the summer rosters do not include school runs and require fewer buses. The school runs will continue to be serviced by minibuses until the complement of buses and operators is sufficiently replenished.

She added: “It is anticipated that with the return to summer rosters, the repairs and the addition of new electric buses will result in fewer cancellations next week. Additionally, the Department has made good progress with the recruitment of bus operators.

“The Department appreciates the public's patience during the temporary suspension of services. Public bus service has resumed.”

Eugene Ball, the president of the BIU bus division, said after the meetings: “Our cancellations are due to issues we find within the Department of Public Transportation such as tyres for the diesel fleet not being here or not arriving on time.

“We don’t know when they will be ready, we are just waiting on the container. It is a question the minister can answer. We are waiting as patiently as possible.

“We discussed what we can do to make the service better for the public. I believe that management and staff will put out something to let the public know that it is being addressed.

“The operators have returned to work and the bus service is back in operation. Until we get the tyres there are still going to be some cancellations, that is the main factor. It is something for the management to speak on.”

Eugene Ball, president of the Bermuda Industrial Union Bus Division (File photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Mr Ball said that staffing was also discussed during the meeting with management to ensure there are enough operators to run the service effectively.

There was no bus service between 10am and 1pm today as the operators met at the BIU headquarters in Hamilton.

Meanwhile, frustrated members of the public took to social media to complain about the lack of service with some pointing out that a cruise ship - the Norwegian Gem - was in port in Dockyard.

One mother on Facebook said that at 3pm she and her two children had been waiting for an hour in Warwick.

Another poster responded at 4pm: “I went past Horseshoe Bay about 45 minutes ago and the bus was behind me. When we made the corner and the load of tourists all at the bus stop saw the bus they cheered and some shouting ‘finally’.

“From their reaction I take it they've been waiting a long time. If we are ever going to compete with the islands for tourism we have to get our act together.”

A government spokeswoman said this week that bus cancellations and delays last week stemmed from “resource shortages, including a backlog in the shipment of tyres for the diesel fleet”.

She added: “The bus maintenance challenges have resulted in fewer buses in-service and increasing cancellations. The new tyres will be delivered this week.”

The spokeswoman said on Monday that 90 per cent of bus operators had now passed certification and are qualified to drive the electric buses.

Lawrence Scott, the Minister of Transport, is due to hold a press conference today.

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Published April 13, 2022 at 7:55 am (Updated April 13, 2022 at 7:55 am)

Bus drivers back at work after meetings with management

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