Updated: Sep 26, 2021 10:00 PM
A free minibus service will replace public buses tomorrow, the government revealed tonight.
Stop: A deserted Hamilton bus terminal (file photo)
Lawrence Scott, the Minister of Transport, has confirmed that the government has implemented its contingency plan after public transport workers withdraw from their jobs amid fears over Covid-19.
Mr Scott said: “It is very unfortunate that we are at this point, but nine days after the start of this dispute, we must act to help our residents who depend on public transport go about their daily business.”
He added: “While the government supports the work, we must act to deliver the expected public services as efforts continue to resolve the current impasse.”
Mr Scott pointed out that the bus service had been off the road for nine consecutive days.
The ferry service also cut down tools.
Mr Scott said: “These are tough times for everyone and the added burden of not having transportation adds additional stress and anxiety to those who depend on the public bus service.
“To alleviate the inconvenience caused by the withdrawal of the workforce, the ministry has asked licensed minibuses to provide an alternative means of transportation.”
Chris Furbert, BIU chairman, last declined to comment on the government’s decision until the union spoke to members of its transport department in a meeting tomorrow morning.
The BIU is also due to hold a press conference at 11 a.m. tomorrow.
Lawrence Scott told the House of Assembly last Friday that the government would resume negotiations with the Bermuda Industrial Union on Saturday “first and foremost in the interests of conciliation, to ensure that we are able to find this common thread “.
But he warned: “In the worst case scenario and in the planning of all events, if we don’t come to an agreement, there is a follow-up, a back-up plan that the government is ready to implement, so that people no longer get blocked.
But Scott did not say at the time what alternatives the government had planned.
Emergency bus services will operate hourly from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on main bus lines 1, 3, 7, 8, 10 and 11.
Mr Scott added that the minibuses would operate under the Department of Health’s Covid-19 rules for public transport.
“The minibuses will run on:
Route 1 – Hamilton to Grotto Bay
Route 3 – Hamilton to Grotto Bay
Route 7 – Hamilton to Somerset
Route 8 – Hamilton to Somerset
Route 10 – Hamilton to St. George’s
Route 11 – Hamilton to St. George’s
There will also be loop service from the St. George’s Bus Depot to Great Head Park in St. David’s and from the Somerset Bus Depot to the Clocktower Mall in Dockyard.