Premier’s Comments Groundless, Irresponsible and Unfair says BTOA VP Ricky Tucker

On behalf of the Bermuda Taxi Owners & Operators Association (BTOA), we wish to extend our sincere and heartfelt condolences to the family of Mr. Marco Warren who tragically died on our roads as a result of a possible hit and run accident.

“We will not comment further on this
ongoing investigation nor dignify the Premier or others with a response to what Mr. Warren may or may not have done before making the decision to walk wherever his final destination may
have been,” said BTOA President Dennis Furbert. “Everyone has a right to feel safe on our streets whether a pedestrian or operating a vehicle.”

“We feel that tragedies such as this should not be used as a political opportunity to highlight perceived problems within the transportation industry,” added BTOA Vice-President Ricky Tucker. “The statements made by the Premier are groundless, irresponsible and unfair to the
hardworking men and women of Bermuda’s taxi industry.

At a time when the taxi industry is doing the heavy lifting for a Government who has been unable to open up key hotels to increase the number of beds to air visitors and has found it necessary to schedule more and more cruise ships to come into the island to supplement their revenue, we are proud at the end of each day when we know that the 3,000 – 7,000 visitors have been taken care of and we get an all clear from the Airport.”

The BTOA admits that waits do exist, as they do all over the world as experienced by those who travel, but with technology and communication these wait times have been alleviated for locals and visitors to our Island and especially hotel and restaurant guests via a tool that has received high praise since inception November 2022.

The taxi industry has met with the Government a significant number of times since October 2021 to discuss an increase to our meter among a list of other needs that stem from the 2018
Transportation Green Paper. The last increase to the meter was almost 10 years ago – and before that, 7 years. “We have endured changes in political parties, participated in a Public
Service Vehicle Modernization Consultation period and seen a change in Transportation Ministers just as we thought we were making some progress,” said President Dennis Furbert.

“Now we are being told that there’s to be a taxi industry overhaul. We feel we are being given the royal run-around. There are things on our list that could be implemented with no affect on
transportation as a whole.” The BTOA has been adamant in its talks with the former and current Minister of Transport that any overhaul needs to include one of the Public Transportation
system. “What good is a public bus system that stops running at midnight and even earlier in some parts of the Island leaving those seeking transportation after this time with only one option?” Government has been working on new bus and ferry schedules for many years and has spent millions of taxpayer dollars only to see this segment of transportation limp its way
through the day.

Minibuses help supplement the school runs leaving taxi’s to do the job of the minibus fleet that was justified to be increased to share the work at the cruise ships terminals and not to disappear as school lets out. The mini-bus industry is unregulated however the Minister, with no consultation, was able to approve 40 new minibus permits. “Rumours of a desired implementation of a ride-sharing app using gypsy cabs are circulating. We believe that if this is the current Government’s intention, they should be honest with the people and should not
justify doing this through denigrating the taxi industry,” said Vice President Ricky Tucker, “We are quite capable of handling additional competition however Government needs to listen to and address our needs as the taxi industry is here to stay.” he said.

The BTOA feels that the Government needs a sustainability report completed on exactly how many more vehicles our
deplorable roads can take. It is hoped that the eyebrows of Bermuda Environmental Sustainability Taskforce (BEST) would also be raised. “Who wants to come to Bermuda and be stuck in traffic jams and exhaust fumes?”, said a spokesperson.

During the PSV Modernization Consultation period, many of the responses from the BTOA included an instruction to the Transport Control Department to Do Your Job all the time and not only when trying to be vindictive against the taxi industry because we have raised an issue in the press. The taxi industry is heavily regulated and despite some antiquated laws and
expectations that we hope the Government will address, we are governed by these regulations unlike some who have little to no regulation – and none appears to be on the horizon as no one seems to want to do this part of their job. The taxi industry becomes the scapegoat for every ailment regarding transportation with very few in Government or otherwise understanding what it truly takes to be a taxi operator in these trying times. “The cost of insurance, repairs, fuel, tires
and general maintenance required for our vehicles has not reduced,” said Vice-President Ricky Tucker. Dispatch companies are also regulated by the Government and the BTOA has long
pointed out how broken the disparate dispatch systems are in Bermuda.

Central Dispatch has been recommended for over 10 years now but no one seems to have the appetite to sit down
and think on how it should be done for the betterment of the island and the industry. “It remains a what’s in it for me mentality and not what’s in it for the industry and the country,” said a
spokesperson. The BTOA Executive has presented a report in support of Central Digital Dispatch to the former and current Minister outlining how the BTOA envisions it and have met with those dispatch companies who accepted an invitation to meet, demonstrate and allow the BTOA Executive to test drive their digital app. “We have also asked for TCD to hold not only taxi owners and operators accountable, but also all who hold a Public Service Vehicle Licence –
mini-buses, airport transportation (ATs) and Limos, as well as dispatch companies who are legislated to have a required amount of active subscribers to serve the industry.”

Budgetary constraints was the reason given as to why this has not happened.

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