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‘Excessive wet weather’ causes electric buses to break down

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A file picture of one of the electric buses that the Government bought from the Golden Dragon Bus Company in China which have encountered problems when operating in heavy rain (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

Almost a third of the of the island’s electric buses ground to a halt on Tuesday because of the heavy rainfall.

A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Transport confirmed that nine of the 30 buses built by the Golden Dragon Bus Company in China that arrived on the island last spring had encountered problems.

She said that the Department of Public Transportation was in talks with the manufacturer to address a fault that had been identified earlier this year.

“Nine electric buses had interrupted service as a result of excessive wet weather,” the spokeswoman said.

“Seven were quickly back in operation after review and two buses are being assessed to be placed back in operation.”

The spokeswoman said the DPT ran the regular bus service yesterday morning.

“The department is in contact with the manufacturer to rectify the fault and both parties are working closely to address the matter.

“This issue was identified earlier in the year and it has been resolved for the next order of buses anticipated to land this summer.

“A technician will be arriving on island in the next few weeks to assist the DPT team with the existing fleet and to provide support in commissioning the new electric buses.”

The ministry confirmed that the rest of the electric fleet was in operation.

Eugene Ball, organiser for the Bermuda Industrial Union’s bus division, said he was aware of problems that occur with the electric fleet during wet weather.

He said: “When it rains you get a lot of breakdowns — there is a tendency with the rain for the electric buses to break down because of how they are manufactured.

“It can be problematic for the drivers. All we can do is continue consultation with the DPT management and the powers that be. We don’t control anything to do with the purchase of buses.”

There were two cruise ships visiting when the problems occurred.

Dennis Furbert, president of the Bermuda Taxi Owners and Operators Association said it was “unfortunate” that the public bus service was experiencing challenges complicated by inclement weather.

He said: “Of course, taxis are there to assist in all areas of transportation and it is a monumental undertaking when several thousand visitors are expecting us at one end of the island and several hundred at the other, and all others in between.

“At peak times, especially early in the morning and just before school lets out, a large majority of the minibus fleet assists DPT with the schools leaving the taxis to provide for everyone.

“However, someone will take a photo of people waiting for taxis at the airport during a time when quite a number of aeroplanes arrive without understanding the dynamics that create a need for patience.”

Ricky Tucker, the BTOA’s vice-president, added: “Throughout our dialogue with government, we have always stated that until the public bus and ferry system is improved, we will always have transportation issues. We do not know why the focus always reverts to the taxi.”

Wayne Furbert, the Minister of Transport, told Parliament this month that electric buses had saved Bermuda $222,000 per bus in place of diesel. He added that the fleet had also reduced air pollution.

Wayne Furbert, the Minister of Transport (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

Mr Furbert said at the time: “The feedback from the people of Bermuda has been overwhelmingly positive. The electric buses are more comfortable, quieter and have improved the overall public transportation experience.

“We are proud to provide a more sustainable, efficient and convenient mode of transportation for the public.”

Last month marked a year since the island introduced electric buses to the island.

The existing fleet of 30 is to be expanded this summer with 40 more electric buses arriving in groups of ten from July 2023.

Once they are all operating, Bermuda will have a total complement of 70 electric buses, representing a 70 per cent fleet conversion.

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Published May 26, 2023 at 1:23 pm (Updated May 26, 2023 at 1:23 pm)

‘Excessive wet weather’ causes electric buses to break down

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