Taxi drivers: we are being given short shrift on rideshare apps
The taxi association has said that any fundamental change to the industry such as the introduction of ridesharing requires full-scale consultation.
Dennis Furbert and Ricky Tucker, the president and the vice-president of the Bermuda Taxi Owners and Operators Association, issued a joint statement on the matter as industry meetings with the Government continue.
At a meeting on Tuesday, it was revealed the Government intends to move forward with a White Paper, which the BTOA said would devalue taxi permits and open the door to ride-sharing apps.
Providing an update on progress, the statement said: “The two meetings held, the first with owners only and the second with owners and operators, went well.
“The executive is exploring other options to circumvent Government’s plan that has had very little consultation with the entrepreneurs it will greatly affect.
“The public are simply giddy about having something that other parts of the world have and are giving little thought to how this will impact our infrastructure and our quality of life.
“We are extremely disappointed in a labour government which, once again, is attempting to make changes to an industry that has proven itself year after year in providing positive and memorable experiences for our visitors, as well as courteous and reliable service to the majority of locals and the corporate sector.
“Despite asking, the BTOA executive has not been provided with a copy of the draft White Paper so we are unable to speculate further on the specific plans but anything that will devalue the taxi permit will meet strenuous opposition from the industry.
“If the Government plans to introduce a rideshare app utilising private cars, there are a number of changes required to the Motor Car Act that should be articulated to not only the taxi industry but the general public. Such a major change to transportation requires consultation to those who will ultimately pay for it — the public.
“The BTOA executive is extremely interested in how Government plans to improve upon the existing public service transportation, that is buses and ferries that are not utilised to their full capacity. Bus cancellations are at an all-time high, with public schools out and the tourist season at its peak.”
David Burt took aim at the taxi industry in May, telling Parliament that taxi companies were failing to provide a service to late-night revellers trying to make their way home safely and that other private companies could be drafted in to plug the gap.
The BTOA has said taxis are being used as a scapegoat, highlighting that neither government buses nor ferries provide a late-night service.
The association also opposes a proposal by the Government that would reduce the cost of a taxi permit from $100,000 to $40,000, is looking for taxi rate increases and the implementation of a centralised dispatch system.
The BTOA has held a series of meetings with the Government and more are expected to take place.
The Ministry of Transport did not respond to questions by press time.