19 Nov 2017

Minister Provides Update On PTB Bus Situation

The Minister of Transport and regulatory affairs, Mr. Walter Roban, JP MP, spoke with TNN regarding the ongoing concerns of the bus crisis Bermuda has been facing and solutions that have been put in place in order to tackle the issues at hand. 
Since July and certainly in recent months, we have taken a number of, what we call strong steps, to try and deal with the situation with the bus fleet and what is out of circulation. There is perhaps a minimum of comfort from when we came in office on July 18th, where we had as high as sixty or seventy buses out of service on a daily basis. We are now down to on average about 50, give or take, on a daily basis. It is not where I want to be, but I am happy with the improvement and certainly hats off to the staff of PTB who are working with a very difficult situation and have brought us to this point. 
“Some of the other things which we have done, which I have mentioned in previous statements, but I am happy to update the public with where we are, is that we have the persons from the MAN Corporation who are our chief supplier here now working with the team to deal with issues around the fleet. There will be more employees coming later this month to provide additional support and assistance. We have made sure that our inventory is at a level so that any repairs can be properly done over the upcoming weeks and months so that perhaps over the holiday period when there is a little less stress on the use of the buses we will have time to do the additional work. 
“There was always an issue, in addition to the inventory problems, with understaffing. I have reported this already, I am aware that the maintenance staff was down by 50% and this is due to the revenue constraints that had been established by the previous administration. We have now moved to fill those funded vacant posts that are available in the maintenance section and in other sections. There are other management posts that were not filled, they were funded but not filled. It was not a question of additional monies; the money is already there to fund these posts. What was recognized is that there wasn’t approval from the previous government to fill them. We are now moving to fill them. We are hoping to get additional mechanics and additional other staff to fill the areas where we need them right now. 
“We are doing our best to work with the current team there. We are also pleased with our partnership with the union, who have been very cooperative, which I said before, in having ideas and working with them, and the staff who are members of the Union, to get this right. The reality of this is that the fleet is old and very much below the average annual age that they should be. That is a structural issue that can only be rectified with new buses. Everything we can do from a stand point of mechanical fixes, but until we get the actual fleet average age down to seven, we are literally throwing money into bad product. 
“We do appreciate that there are financial constraints on the government but we are going to do our best to get the fleet to a fitness that we have the members of the public receiving a reliable service. For us it is all about the people having good service.”
The question was posed as to whether or not the new mechanics being hired would be locally sourced, to which Minister Roban replied “That is what we are doing, we want to employ local staff to fill these positions. It’s tough because the reality is that the available trained local mechanics who are specialized or able to service that level of mechanical equipment is not readily always available. BUT, I do take this opportunity to inform the public that we are working with the Department of Workforce Development, to provide the training the training to those who are interested, we are looking at some of our young women and men who are leaving school, who may have an interest in mechanical work, that they may be identified and they can be given the training so that maybe within 18monhts or so they can actually be able to work within the DPT, if they wish, to be working on our buses. We want a local staff and a local team to be there doing this work. We are not looking overseas at this point for anything and I have no intention of doing that, other than to get support from our manufacturers who can help our local mechanics do what they need to do.”
TNN questioned as to how much has the government spent outsourcing minibuses to fulfill the need of the islands school children getting to and from school in a timely manner. Minister Roban informed us “I cannot divulge at this point as to exactly how much has been spent but at the last period, from which a report what provided, it was at approximately fifty thousand between September 2017 to October 2017. That accounted for thousands of runs and full complement of students on those runs. 
“I am pleased to see more buses carrying our students and in turn less need for the minibuses. There have been enough buses available to use our public buses to carry the children. That has been an improvement, unfortunately the afternoons seem to be more difficult for us, again, because the fleet is old. When we press the fleet throughout the day, that is when we have the breakdowns. 
In closing Minister Roban expressed his gratitude for the minibus service providers. “With their help we have had a chance to put time and attention into the fleet of public buses. I appreciate the relationship that they have been prepared to develop with us and I look forward to working with them in any way I can.”



Read 821 times Last modified on Monday, 20 November 2017 12:29
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