Taxi officials investigating claim injured tourist was refused seat
The taxi association is investigating a claim that a cab driver would only agree to transport an injured tourist to hospital in the rear section of his hatchback as the tourist was wet.
A spokeswoman for the Bermuda Taxi Owners and Operators Association said it had received no reports of the alleged incident mentioned by Wayne Caines, the chairman of the Bermuda Tourism Authority and Progressive Labour Party MP, during last Friday’s House of Assembly session.
The association also hit back at claims made by Mr Caines in relation to a BTA survey that indicated tourists’ biggest concern about visiting Bermuda is the lack of available transport on the island.
The BTOA spokeswoman said: “We are asking within our membership for the name or taxi number of the operator so that we can hear his side of the story.
“We have reached out to the Minister of Transport, Wayne Furbert, and to MP Caines to discuss the matter. A meeting with the Minister of Transport, the BTA and the BTOA is imminent.”
It remains unclear when the alleged incident took place. Mr Caines said the taxi driver in question saw that the tourist was wet and said “you cannot get in my taxi wet”.
Speaking during the motion to adjourn, Mr Caines said the man was “reeling in pain” with a broken leg but he has since clarified it was a shoulder injury.
Mr Caines said: “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.”
The association urged the public not to jump to conclusions before hearing both sides of the story, adding that if the incident was true: “Although it may appear inhumane what the taxi operator did, we assume the injured person was delivered to the hospital as requested.
“We are thankful that the driver thought outside of the box to complete the service required as well as not jeopardising the work he would undertake the rest of the day.”
She added: “We are public service vehicles and do our best to accommodate all kinds of passengers. Wet passengers have always been a problem and drivers are encouraged to carry shower curtains, tarp or waterproof seat covers to protect their vehicles.
“For those who are unaware, our public buses do not readily accommodate wet passengers either.
“We do not believe any action should be taken against the taxi operator who delivered the injured passenger where he needed to go in lieu of an ambulance.
“This will be used as a learning opportunity – not only to taxi operators but to members of the public in general who could also be faced with a similar scenario.”
A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Transport did not respond to questions about whether it planned to investigate the claim but said: “The Ministry of Transport and the Transportation Control Department meet regularly with the taxi association to discuss ways to improve services.
“The ministry will implement plans and policies to enhance the taxi and minibus service throughout the island, particularly in the summer.
"A taxi or minibus driver complaint should be submitted to the director of TCD in writing (e-mail is appropriate) and signed by the complainant. The complaint is then forwarded to the Public Vehicles Licensing Board to investigate.”
Mr Caines highlighted the unusual incident as part of a call for “honest talks” on the issue of taxi availability on the island.
He said: “The thing that caused the most concern, on record, documented, put in writing, to the BTA was transportation, local transportation.”
The BTOA spokeswoman said: “We are aware of a problem with the disparate dispatch companies that do not allow for all drivers to know of all persons needing transport.
“The current executive of the BTOA is exploring the option of a Central Dispatch System that will make this possible.
“This is not new and has been suggested since GPS was introduced 11 years ago however a mindset of insanity – doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results – persists.”
She also reiterated that the taxi industry is looking for an increase to rates adding: “We had nothing in nine years and nothing in the seven years before that.”
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