Minibus Operators: It’s Not Financially Viable

January 12, 2021 | 26 Comments

We “understand the need to get the children to school” however it is “not financially viable” to offer the service for the cost Government is willing to pay, the Bermuda Minibus Association [BMA] said today.

The BMA said the average school run takes two hours due to the numerous stops and Covid-19 guidelines, and they are willing to do it for $210, however the Government has offered $125, with the BMA noting that when they previously did the service for $125 it “resulted in a huge deficit for minibus companies.”

Minister’s Comments

This follows after Minister of Transport Lawrence Scott said that despite “extensive negotiations” with the BMA an agreement was not reached to arrange transportation for students, so the DPT will “will be prioritizing school runs to ensure our children can safely and reliably arrive at school and back home.”

“The BMA remain steadfast in their demand for $210.00 per run which amounts to $60,900 per week which is money this Ministry does not have,” the Minister said.

“The Government can only offer the BMA what is reasonable to meet their operational needs. Most importantly, without the support and sacrifice of the BMA, the DPT is unable to provide the full public bus schedule and must prioritize its services by ensuring a reliable school bus service so that students continue receiving their education.

“We will continue to explore other forms of transportation, i.e, community service vehicles, airport limousines, etc. However, if we are unable to secure alternative transportation, this could result in cancellations and disruptions in service.”

BMA’s Comments

In response, a statement from the BMA said, “Happy New Year Bermuda. The Bermuda Minibus Association met on the evening of January 10th, 2021 with its membership.

“We wish to acknowledge our executive board which worked tireless trying to find a resolve with Government to get our most precious resource to school which is are children. President Mr David Burgess, Vice President Mr. Roderick Simons, Secretary Mr. Winston Goodwin, Treasurer Mrs. Altama Burgess, Apologies from Public Relations Officer Mr Russ Ford Negotiation. Team members include Mr. Esten Curtis and Mr. Calshon Pitt.

“It should be noted that the 2020 cruise ship season was a complete loss for minibus owners due to the global pandemic. We are hoping the 2021 season will be better.

“Three years ago, Government and the Bermuda Minibus Association agreed to work together to provide transportation for our students due to the shortage of public buses. Initially the cost was $250.00 per run, then was reduced to $200.00.

“In September 2020, the Bermuda Minibus Association reluctantly agreed to $125.00 per run which resulted in a huge deficit for minibus companies which was a 40% decrease. The Government was notified in September that in the next contract for the 2021 school term that the price would have to increase as the previous cost was not financially viable.

“The Bermuda Minibus Association and Government met in person and virtually on three occasions since December 2020. It was hoped that an agreement would be reached in good faith but this was not achieved.

“On Friday, January 8th, 2021, the Bermuda Minibus Association met with the Transportation Minister, The Honorable Lawrence Scott, JP,MP and the Director of The Department of Transportation Mr. Roger Todd and technical officers.

“The Government again insulted the Bermuda Minibus Association by offering once again the amount of $125.00 per run. The Government knew from October 2020 that this amount would not be accepted. This has resulted in no contract being signed two business days before students are to return to school. The Bermuda Minibus Association views this as totally disrespectful and unacceptable.

“The Bermuda Minibus Association has offered a price of $210 and that was rejected by Government. Our initial price was $250.00.

“If one was to rent a Government bus during peak time the price would be $278 per hour and that price starts when the bus leaves the depot and stops when it returns to the depot. The average school trip takes approximately 2 hours which would be $556 compared to the minibuses performing the same task for $210.00.

“With regards to Minister Lawrence Scott stating that the minibuses can do it for $7 per person, we would like to clarify the service. The service he is referring has a price structure as follows and is a government approved cost.

  • 1st parish $5
  • 2nd parish $2
  • Each additional parish $1.

“For example, if a bus leaves Sandys and goes to Berkeley it would pass through 5 parishes which would result in a price of $11.00 per person, and if a bus carried 22 passengers the price would be $242.00. The $210 is more than fair.

“Please note that when doing school runs it takes longer to perform the school run task due to the numerous stops and the attention needed to attend to Covid-19 guidelines.

“The Bermuda Minibus Association met virtually on the evening of January 10, 2021 to update the membership on Government’s decision regarding the transport of students to school via Minibuses.

“If the DPT/Government is unable to increase the payment for the current service, we will have to reject doing the work at the start of the January 2021 school term.

“We understand the need to get the children to school however we are businesses and we have obligations that need to be met.

“If Government wishes to discuss further, we are prepared to work with them to come up with a solution to get a signed contract to get our most precious resource to school which is our children.”

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Comments (26)

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  1. Smith says:

    Govt needs to just pay the minibuses and take care of the children! Parents could lose jobs over this! Our children’s safety and passage is more important than anything so pay the minibuses the money! They are not asking for anything outrageous! What has govt spent on buses? Nothing!?

    • I have the solution says:

      Drive your children to school yourselves like I had to do in my day! Seriously? Government is not accountable for driving your kids you lazy people! I drive my 2 kids for over 20 years to different schools and I worked 2 jobs – so you can do the same!

    • wahoo says:

      Yet we can pay an MP Front street rent.

      • Joe Bloggs says:

        As Lt. Col. Burch said, the Government is redistributing wealth and those with “historic wealth” will continue to be disappointed.

        • Question says:

          People who have worked and who have been successful. Bought a house, paid your mortgage, remained employed, stayed out of prison. They’re the people the government wants to destroy.

      • Fisherman says:

        MP’s take their k8ds to n from school, practices after school, weekend events in GP cars. They operate a GP car for 210.00 per week. Dey dun care bowt you lot n your kids.

        • Now Ya Nice says:

          That cant be true -MPs using cars for private use. Only a few short years ago, TCD traffic enforcement officers were monitoring people in work vehicles taking children to school and calling those companies and threatening them with penalties and loss of of permit for dropping theirnkids off at work.

          • Joe Bloggs says:

            Premier David Saul did not have a GP car on a full-time basis. he continued to use his motorbike to get around on a daily basis.

  2. Joe Bloggs says:

    “The Government can only offer the BMA what is reasonable to meet their operational needs. Most importantly, without the support and sacrifice of the BMA, the DPT is unable to provide the full public bus schedule and must prioritize its services by ensuring a reliable school bus service so that students continue receiving their education.”

    So it is the BMA’s fault that “the DPT is unable to provide the full public bus schedule”?

    And how does Government know what is “reasonable to meet their operational needs” in relation to private businesses? Did those businesses open their books to Government?

    I find it incredible that our Government would try to blame the BMA for the Government’s own failing

  3. Ninja says:

    You are absolutely correct

  4. Cann says:

    The truth will come out…trust and believe

  5. Really says:

    Get back at the table.

  6. Jack Archer says:

    I’m on the side of the mini bus guys – they have a lot of overheads to deal with

  7. sandgrownan says:

    This is entirely on the PLP. It’s their fault we are broke, they own this, they need to take responsibility.

    To blame the BMA is disgraceful. Shame on them.

  8. Bus Rider says:

    Don’t Give in, Mini Busses, Gov’t is very cheap. They are sending a clear message to families with children, workers trying to get to work who even work for Gov’t, the elderly, the Tourists, and the general Population, WE DON’T CARE!
    Don’t Mess with the Children! This Bus Debacle has been going on for years and needs to stop! This is sickening.
    Government’s pants continue to be down.
    There is money on this island, however, would anybody step up to the plate? No. It’s not worth it. Gov’t is a fat , ghostly white elephant , out of control with it’s own fat and waste. It starts from the top down to the bosses. Like Trump, they shirk responsibility for their negligence and poor management. Sorry, the truth Hurts, and many members of the public will have to swallow all these Gov’t mistakes . Now , tax the rents, and bleed us more, we tenants will be paying for that tax. Sugar Tax was NOT enough, obviously! Back to the days of Robin Hood. One coin left.

    • Joe Bloggs says:

      The Government was not cheap when it rented space in a Front Street building owned by Zane DeSilva and his family

  9. Ringmaster says:

    Before all this minibus involvement, buses took school children to school. Buses also took residents to work, and tourists to wherever they wanted. What has changed? The PLP has been in power for 20 years so this is not new, but like garbage collection that used to be twice a week has become once a week if you’re lucky. Same number of people but half the work. Odd that collection has quietly moved to the weekend too. Surely it’s not because weekends are double time?

  10. Now Ya Nice says:

    That cant be true -MPs using cars for private use. Only a few short years ago, TCD traffic enforcement officers were monitoring people in work vehicles taking children to school and calling those companies and threatening them with penalties and loss of of permit for dropping their kids off at schiol while on the way to work! So there is no way the government rule-malers would tell TCD to enforce rules against working taxpayers that they are breaking themselves, in vehicles paid for by those same taxpayers? Would they?

    • Fisherman says:

      Take your blinders off. I was at two cricket games in St. David’s over summer. Who drove up was the Premier and his children in GP1. Not on official business, came to eat, have a few slaps in de chops and left. No official business park ALL GP vehicles. That should save Gov’t money.

      • Toodle-oo says:

        Pop into the Somerset Marketplace around 11 on a Sunday morning and see GP5 (I believe it is) parked outside while the minister is grocery shopping inside.
        Let us not forget the unforgettable words of an ex PLP minister from an interview some years ago.
        Q) What’s the best thing about being a minister ?
        A) Um , er , de car !

  11. Gwiz says:

    Give some work to the Taxi drivers. They miss the cruise ship season just as much as the mini buses not making much money. Lots of taxis parked daily at city hall hoping for work. Half a loaf is better then none at all. The struggle is real for lots of folk..

  12. Joe Bloggs says:

    “Before all this minibus involvement, buses took school children to school. Buses also took residents to work, and tourists to wherever they wanted. What has changed? ”

    Few residents take the bus for various reasons (including social distancing), there are no tourists and there are many unemployed Bermudians. That’s what has changed.

    • question says:

      Fewer people take the bus than in the past because they are so unreliable. That’s what stopped me, for sure.

      • Ringmaster says:

        @ Joe. My point is with less demand for buses, that leaves them available to take the children to school. Or are they sitting idle at the depot while the drivers etc continue to get paid, and then taxpayers have to pay for minibuses as well? It seems Government costs continue to increase for no reason apart from the new “economic redistribution” stated by Minister Burch.

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