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Digital fares for public transport coming in May

Wayne Furbert, the Minister of Transport (Photograph by Alva Solomon)

Digital fare systems for public transportation will start to be rolled out in May, it was announced yesterday.

Wayne Furbert, the Minister of Transport, said in a post-budget press conference that the system will initially allow passengers to use their phones to ride the bus or ferry, with other payment options added over time.

“The whole package will not be completely up to date, but as far as putting your mobile phone up and tapping it or showing it to the operator, that will be done,” he said.

“The other parts will be added on later so people can just tap and get on.”

Mr Furbert added that payment cards will also be made available to those who do not have a compatible phone or bank card.

He said the introduction of digital fares was a “milestone” for public transport in Bermuda, streamlining the process and enhancing the overall commuter experience.

“Commuters will enjoy the convenience of seamless transactions as digital fare media eliminates the need for physical tickets or cash,” Mr Furbert said.

“The implementation of smart-card technology and mobile applications offers passengers a range of payment options, providing flexibility and accessibility for diverse user preferences.”

He added that the change would improve the collection of data about public transport usage, which will help to optimise routes and make the service more efficient.

The minister also highlighted the investment in two new ferries, with Strategic Marine Singapore signing a $19.5 million contract to provide the new vessels.

“A robust procurement process was conducted, with the highest bid equating to $36 million,” Mr Furbert said.

“However, the department was able to procure a contract significantly lower while maintaining quality assurance within the contract.”

He added that the purchase signalled a pledge to modernise the island’s ferry fleet and cater to the demand for sustainable transport options.

“These new vessels, each capable of carrying up to 550 passengers, not only marks a considerable investment in maritime infrastructure, but also promises to improve the commuting experience for residents and tourists alike,” Mr Furbert said.

The new ferries are intended to replace the Warbaby Fox and JL Cecil Smith, which came into service in 2006 and 2007, respectively.

Both the vessels being replaced were built in Bridgeport, Connecticut, by Direktor Shipyard and carry up to 350 passengers.

Mr Furbert said the older ferries could potentially be sold, but final approval for such a sale has not yet been given.

He added that the Government has increased ferry service to St George’s for the upcoming season to allow Monday-to-Friday service to the town.

While the budget for the Ministry of Transport has been reduced by a little more than $4 million to $68 million, Mr Furbert said that the decrease was mainly attributed to the end of minimum-revenue guarantee payments to Skyport.

“This reduction underscores the growth of airlift in Bermuda,” Mr Furbert said. “The team has worked to strategically enhance air service to Bermuda, particularly in response to the collapse posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“This reduction in budget serves as evidence of the substantial advancements made in this regard.”

Mr Furbert said the Government was still working diligently to bolster airlift to the island.

“We have been very successful with JetBlue, very successful with United Airlines. We have been very successful with others and we are having further discussions with Air Canada,” he said.

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Published February 23, 2024 at 7:58 am (Updated February 23, 2024 at 7:58 am)

Digital fares for public transport coming in May

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