After listening to the concerns of taxi operators the Ministry of Transport to decided to introduce a six months grace period for all taxis to get compliant with GPS installation and usage, Minister of Transport Walter Roban said.
Minister Roban said, “During the last taxi licensing period a considerable number of taxi operators failed to retain their licence due to non compliance with GPS installation and usage. Many of the operators presented a myriad of reasons why purchasing a device would be particularly burdensome.
“The Ministry had a listening ear to taxi owners and operators concerns and as a result, the Ministry of Transport found it fitting to introduce a six months grace period for all taxis that failed the vehicle licence test as a result of GPS installation and usage. On June 30, 2012, the grace period is due to expire.
“In the preceding months the Ministry has formed the Taxi Commission as a sub-committee of the Public Service Vehicle Licencing Board following the recommendations from the Taxi Authority Review Committee that was subsequently approved by Cabinet last year.
“The Taxi Commission Chaired by Mr. Cromwell Shakir, has members representing Taxi owners, operator and dispatching companies. The Commission was charged to review all facets and components associated with GPS installation and usage including technological challenges. The Taxi Commission has submitted a report which provides recommendations that includes:
- Consideration be given to one system to be used by all three dispatching companies.
- Continuing the high level discussions with the Taxi owners, operators and dispatching companies
- Enhancing the methods of enforcement for the established policies and legislation.
“As recommended, the Ministry will continue to engage the Taxi owners, operators and dispatching companies through the Taxi Commission to provide the best way forward. The most immediate focus is the June 30 deadline and the need to implement a framework that has a reasonable application in the short and long term.
“Effective July 1, the grace period will be extended and the Taxi Commission will advise on the way forward on this specific issue prior to the re-licensing period that commences on November 1st 2012,” continued Minister Roban.
“In addition, the role and authority of the Taxi Commission will be expanded. We see the current Taxi Commission sub-committee as a helpful interim step that has provided some great ideas that speak to how we can have greater fairness and create more opportunities for the taxi industry. This is an industry owned and operated by Bermudians and has every right to shape its future.
“As part of an initiative for greater empowerment the Taxi Commission will become a statutory body reflective of the diversity of the industry as opposed to a Government sub-committee. Their remit will be to consider and examine how to improve their industry and their operations. This will also extend to their partnering with relevant stakeholders in tourism.
“The Taxi Commission remit will also embrace the development and implementation of benefits such as a fuel surcharge, an increase in the metered rate, a group vehicle and health insurance plan; and additional discounts for parts and service for Taxi owners and operator vehicles.
“Consultation and development of agreements with local insurance companies, auto dealers and other stakeholders is vital to the success of the industry and is an important part of the Commission’s work.
“The Taxi Commission will also be responsible for industry service matters comprising deportment, conduct, behavior of Taxi operators and dispute resolution including the adjudication of punitive measures against operators that contravene the established rules and code of conduct.
“As the work on the Taxi Commission continues on these very important matters the Ministry of Transport will keep the public fully abreast of the progress.
“The Government believes the steps announced today to be taken will introduce more fairness in how issues important to the development of the industry are handled. We also feel this will address the belief by some that the concerns of the industry has not been heard or listened to in recent years. I want make it very clear that we are listening.
“I can report that through the efforts of the Taxi Commission and others there is a sense, a feeling of opportunity before us I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the members of the Taxi Commission, Taxi owners and operators for their continued work and commitment to modernizing and improving the standard of service in the Taxi Industry.
“Relevant to the effectiveness of the Taxi Industry is the function of the mini buses. In this vein, the Public Service Vehicle Licensing Board [PSVLB] will continue to advance the required regulation and provide guidance on development of the Mini-bus industry,” concluded Minister Roban.
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