BTOA Raise Objections To Scooter Tour Plans

March 11, 2015

The President of the Bermuda Taxi Owners Association [BTOA] raised concerns about the plans to introduce three-wheel scooter tours, saying he sees it as “Government allowing just another slap in the face for the taxi industry,” and “for them to be used island-wide while giving a scenic tour is ludicrous.”

Earlier this week, the Bermuda Tourism Authority [BTA] confirmed it has provided an interest free loan to ScootCoupe Bermuda, who plans to introduce three-wheel scooters as part of a 4-hour end-to-end guided tour experience for vacationers.

The two-seat vehicle sits the operator and passenger side-by-side in the three-wheel vehicle. Seat belts and helmets are required, and a trained ScootCoupe Bermuda guide will lead the group around the island.

The BTA said that ScootCoupe Bermuda must first get regulatory approval from the Department of Transportation before it can begin offering its experience, and the approval being sought at this stage will allow a customer to rent a ScootCoupe vehicle only when it is part of a guided tour experience.

File photo of what the ScootCoupes look like

ScootCoupe2

In response to the plans, BTOA President Derek Young said, “First I would like to congratulate ScootCoupe owners and first-time entrepreneurs TJ Clark, and Justin Robinson on their plans to introduce a collection of three-wheel scooters as part of a four-hour end-to-end guided tour experience for vacationers.

“However I see this as the Government allowing just another slap in the face for the taxi industry. I would somewhat understand if these vehicles were used to give a tour only around Dockyard, but for them to be used island-wide, while giving a scenic tour is ludicrous.

“Personally, I see these vehicles holding up traffic and being a nuisance to the general public. How a tour can be given to a party or parties on a trike is beyond me.

“There still is no better experience than doing a private guided tour in a taxi with one on one communication between our professional drivers and the passengers. Along with the comfort, safety and the ability to relax in a taxi while receiving information about our beautiful island will always be a better experience for our tourists.

“The BTOA has put in our own proposals since early last year and we have heard nothing back from the Government on the status of those proposals.

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Mr Young continued, “We have been calling for the option of bringing in a second hand vehicles from overseas to use for taxi use. The brand new vehicles of today are not getting the same mileage as of old and we should not have to continue to buy vehicles locally when there are other options available. What and whose business is being protected here??

“We have also asked the Government to allow us to use bigger vehicles for taxi use. This would allow us to move more people at any one time. For example, these taxis could be referred to as a Maxicab.

“I urge the Government to look at the proposals the BTOA have put forward and resolve them asap. Once again this has gone on too long. These proposals would allow us to compete on a more level playing field.

“It appears all other concerns from other entrepreneurs are being addressed other than the taxi men. We have been patient but we need closure. The BTOA are trying to move this industry forward and obviously we can’t do it without the Governments help.

“My executive team was supposed to meet with the Transport Minister in early January 2015 for discussions, but that never materialized. I have called the PS for transport to set up meetings over twenty times and left tons of voicemails along with messages with his secretary, but he has not had the respect to return not one single phone call,” added Mr. Young.

We asked the Transport Ministry for a response to Mr. Young’s concerns last night, and will update if able with their response.

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Comments (56)

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  1. Starting Point says:

    “We have been calling for the option of bringing in a second hand vehicles from overseas to use for taxi use.”

    LOL so the taxi industry is being slapped in the face while they slap the local auto industry in the face……

  2. Now what’s that ole sayin’? Oh yah, “your own fleas bite the hardest.” Here we see 2 enthusiastic young men seeking a means to add / lure tourist to see Bermuda from a different perspective and Taxi drivers oppose this :-( Taxi driver already can’t keep up with the usual demand of taxis and when giving tours they charge an exorbitant amount for x amount of hours…This new idea will also cost more than say, chicken feed but, it offers the groups an opportunity to stop at many places and view Bermuda differently. What’s wrong with this?

  3. Jo Blo says:

    I swear sometimes these guys are stuck in a time warp… Those things as much of a threat to your livelihood as scooter rentals I suspect.

    Such antiquated thoughts and ideas.. Limiting scenenic tours to overpriced taxis, bringing in second hand vehicles for additional taxis. Are you serious???

    Why even bother congratulating these young bucks on doing things when it is followed up with such a buzz kill??

    I’m a local and I have every intention of renting them for fun!

  4. swing voter says:

    the Taxi operators don’t have a dog in this fight…don’t get me started! but seriously I thought of a similar idea years ago, asked permission to use the railway paths, even upgrade the unpaved portions….the response back then was nicely worded HELL NO on government letterhead…maybe these guys should look into it again

  5. Juice says:

    Remember some years ago a gentleman tried to have this class of vehicle introduced to Bermuda, possibly for tourism rental, but 3 wheeled scooters were deemed “unsafe for Bermudas roads” by the minister of transport Dr. Brown. Has anything changed with their “safety”? Hmmm

    • Micro says:

      I have seen one such scooter on the road in the past year or two. Haven’t seen it since. It’s about the same size as a normal two wheeled cycle, just with two wheels in the back and slightly wider.

    • Build a Better Bermuda says:

      Depends on the 3 wheel configuration, if the 2 wheels are on the back, there is greater chance for the vehicle rolling on cornering. With the 2 wheels on the front and the lower seating, they have greater stability, especially on corners.

  6. CB2 says:

    I think one issue with the taxi tours is the price.

    “Update May 2014: The taxi tour rates have been revised effective May 1, 2014. This is the first revision since December 2007. Up to 4 passengers, the rate is now $50 per hour (instead of earlier $40 per hour). For 5 to 7 passengers, the rate is $70 per hour (instead of earlier $55 per hour). Note that if a larger taxi agrees to carry 4 or less passengers for sightseeing tour, they should charge the lower rate (i.e. $50 per hour). This rate is fixed by the Government. The Blue Flag taxis should also charge the same.”

    “Bermuda-Attractions.” Bermuda-Attractions. N.p., n.d. Web. .

    So for a taxi 4 hours (half day) tour would run $200. I doubt that these would be running at such a cost. Also sometimes a little healthy competition can go a long way.

  7. jt says:

    Suck it up buttercup.
    Compete.
    ..

  8. Truth is killin' me.. says:

    Taxi Industry…STEP UP YOUR GAME THEN!!!

  9. Aliker says:

    Sour grapes! Grow up!

  10. Micro says:

    Adapt or die.

    Visitors do need more options.

    They also need safe means of self transportation. I’m surprised none of the rental cycle places have pushed for bringing in trikes for visitors to rent.

    Hope they are being limited to off-peak traffic hours tho. These whould have minimal to no impact on flow of traffic outside of rush hour.

    • Family Man says:

      I can’t see cruise ship passengers getting up to ride around in rush hour traffic, can you?

      As long as they get back to the ship before feeding time, you should be OK.

      • Yahoo says:

        I’m not sure two of the “typical” cruisers could fit in those little 2-seaters…

  11. Dude says:

    Not sure how much a tourist will actually see so low to the ground. I still don’t understand why we don’t have small open air buses? Extra work for bus drivers and great part time jobs for students as narrators/hosts.

  12. obasellouts says:

    lol,

    Ddn’t you taxi guys campaign against the PLP?

    You deserve whatever licks you get.

    idiots

  13. Target Audience says:

    The taxi drivers of Bermuda need to realize that taxi tour operations and these new Scoot Coups are targeting different audiences. Those individuals who can afford a taxi tour are more affluent and less likely to want to sit in a hot little scooter risking their lives driving along Bermuda roads. Taxi tours are more luxurious with their AC, etc and therefore are addressing a different a more affluent tourist.

  14. Tosha says:

    taxi drivers cant drive as it is and now they want bigger cars???? seriously , half of the taxi drivers i have had to use are rude and they charge way too much as it is.

  15. Billy Mays says:

    Boo hoo. I was unaware that the island owed taxi drivers protection for their “businesses”. If they’re concerned that this might cost them some business, they should WORK to make their option more attractive. It’s called competition, and it applies to the rest of us. Deal.

  16. Ed Case says:

    It would be safer and more sensible to simply let tourists use small cars – like the Smart car. Something enclosed, with 4 wheels and safety features. Small car rentals.

    However, narrow minded Bermuda will fight it all the way and only give in when there are virtually no options (or tourists) left. Such is the way in ‘Spashul’ ‘Entitled’ Bermuda.

  17. Business perspective says:

    It’s called competition…suck it up!

  18. To rent those things for tours is a dumb idea. How you gonna take in information, look around and concentrate on the road at the same time? I know I wouldn’t want to drive behind one

  19. positivity says:

    Definitely a case of sour grapes. Tired of some taxi drivers complaining. Taxis are overpriced and the service level has dropped overall. Good for these creative go getters! Also think open air tour buses would be great.

  20. Triangle Drifter says:

    Oh Boo Hoo! Taxi drivers will complain about anything. If they were providing the service that they are supposed to then they might deserve to be listened to. They don’t. Everyone has at least a few horror stories about poor taxi service.

    As far as the tours go, the jury is still out in my mind. Not so concerned about the speed of them. The speed is most likely a bit better than 20mph so that is not an issue. The concern is where can these tours stop as a group & not obstruct the normal flow of traffic. For a place that likes to lay claim about its beauty there are precious few turnouts along our roads where anyone can stop & enjoy the view, never mind a landbound jetski tour with half a dozen of them.

    The roads may be scenic but there are no turnouts as found along scenic roads like the Natchez Trace or the Blue Ridge Parkway.

    Also, if they can be used in a tour why not rent them individually as well? Why not even permit such vehicles for use as private vehicles? 2 of these take up the parking space of 1 car.

  21. Will says:

    Oh whatever! Maybe if the taxis would actually work and not dictate every thing on their terms would they be finding business. Seriously you can’t get a taxi in the extreme ends of the island after 5pm it’s ridiculous. Then they ask where you’re going and half the time say they won’t go that far! Taxi drivers are only putting themselves in this position. Not to mention who ever said they had a monopoly on travel?

  22. some guy says:

    “I see these vehicles holding up traffic and being a nuisance to the general public”

    sounds just like taxis

  23. Ed Case says:

    To all the entitled Bermudians who constantly moan about ‘tourists shouldn’t be allowed to do this’ or ‘it’ll be inconvenient for us’:

    Perhaps you can come up with a scheme where tourists are not allowed to come here at all, but still have to send us their vacation money?

    Or perhaps you should just ‘get a grip’.

    • G@BDA says:

      Honestly, when my husband and I visit in the off season, we often feel outside of the hotel that our business isn’t really wanted. It’s OK, we’ve toughened up. :)

  24. GoodIdeaBadIdea says:

    How different are these from the scooters that tourists can already rent? It’s a two person vehicle with a small displacement engine which by the way is safer and more intuitive for those who have never driven a scooter before.

    Except for a bit more comfort and a bit more storage (hopefully safer than the existing rental fleet), I don’t see a problem as long as they park in regular parking and obey the traffic laws.

    Don’t see it much different than the rent-a-wreck scooters out there now (not saying the scooters are bad – just they become wrecks when non-bike riders take them).

  25. Seriously though says:

    Ok Cab drivers. I understand that you feel this is taking money away from you but honestly have you seen how much you are charging for a cab ride now? Ridiculous. I caught a cab from Dockyard to Somerset Village and it was $15; far too much. So I am sorry if there is competition for you now and that it would be safer for tourists. I give this business prospect a big thumbs up.

  26. Rhonnie aka BlueFamiliar says:

    Those who would take the type of tour described are a different sort of person than who would take a taxi tour.

    These would be the people who would likely rent a scooter if they didn’t have a kid with them, or weren’t unnerved by our roads and drivers, or had more time.

    It’s another option and while I understand the Taxi operators concerned, like everyone else they need to understand that Bermuda needs to offer options to tourists and, personally, I think this is a great one.

    And honestly, can they possibly be any more dangerous than the usual scooters, or that train thing?

  27. Really says:

    Would rather see tourists on one of these than a bike!

  28. G@BDA says:

    Bermuda needs to lighten up, if it’s serious about expanding tourism. Not everyone wants to travel on a bus or with a cab driver chaperone.

  29. stunned... says:

    expect the cabbies to complain as they are given a pay hike recently. way to go for the entrepreneurs. there is enough business for everyone…especially when it rains. lol

  30. stunned... says:

    …dear god, please do not let these two-seaters come into contact with a wayward bus.

  31. Huh says:

    You know you are on to a good thing when the Taxi Operators object &/or complain. They are so stuck in the 1960′s, it’s not even funny. BTOA please put on your big girl pants and grow up, cuz it’s time for new ideas or Bermuda will simply wilt and decay into a sleepy farming/fishing village with a no need for ANY taxis……………..

  32. bluebird says:

    I would love to see them use the unused railway right of way,what a wonderfull way to see the real Bermuda not just the tarmack and traffic

    • PBanks says:

      There are some parts of the Railway Trail that could be quite viable for those vehicles, but probably not a long-enough stretch until they have to rejoin a major road.

      Perhaps the ScootCoupe folks already have plans for suggested routes for their tours that can be analysed.

  33. Educated says:

    Why did the poll have the option to restrict to Dockyard?! Dockyard already has EVERYTHING! If it does get approved, they should be in St. George’s! The small little roads are perfect for them.

    Tourists say they’ve been to Bermuda, but in reality they’ve only been to Dockyard and horseshoe bay.

  34. Ed Case says:

    Educated: I couldn’t agree more. Have them for that side of the causeway. All of St George’s and St David’s – Baselands. Great idea!

  35. somuchless says:

    How the hell did the bta approve the funding, make news announcements on the services and the gents have not yet even revieved approval from TCD, etc.

    Now there is so many concerns about this and the guys will either have to alter their plans or cancel.

    Bunch of backwards people. Shoot I coulda warned the BTA to make sure the gentleman visit TCD, etc to make sure that their idea is doable before funding is promised, etc. But as always many in the bta claim that they know what they’re doing but obviously not. This is a prime example. Whoever approved of this in the bta should apologize for the big screw up. Dumb meet dumber.

    • Build a Better Bermuda says:

      Their loan is dependant on them clearing with TCD

  36. Mr. Bandito says:

    Stop Whining.. This Is An Awesome New Idea!!

    • somuchless says:

      Yes it is nice but apparently there wasn’t any back end work done.

  37. Reality check says:

    It is not the responsibility of the BTA to baby the taxi industry . We need new ideas added to our tourism product . Good for them .

  38. Just a matter of time says:

    So what is the permit cost to have these vehicles which resemble cars for all intents and purposes? I am all for competition, but it is grossly unfair to taxi drivers who have had to go into debt to pay 6 figures for permits way back when (before the PLP administration) only to be pushed out by competition paying less for permits doing the same service. They still are our ambassadors for the most part. This is a divisive idea for the struggling transportation industry. Govt should refund part of their permit cost then or subsidize it like they do with their concessions with the other industries. Let’s be fair now. There are loads of different public transportation vehicles on our roads now with inconsistent regulations. BTA should be working with the existing industry if you are taking on Bermuda’s roads, not complicate it by working against them. Maybe they should help subsidize the taxi industry as they do with everybody else it seems.

    By the way concentrating on St. Georges and promoting our World Heritage site is an excellent idea for these vehicles. But again, work with the existing first.