The 2017 Throne Speech laid out the government’s commitment to a better, fairer Bermuda. Throughout the document you will find our determination to make our island home a better place to live.
Importantly, we must come to grips with the staggering number of road fatalities. The carnage on our roads is sobering. We are seeing an epidemic of road deaths and we must address it aggressively.
The Government will have to consider making driver’s education a requirement earlier in life and it is becoming clear that speed cameras and licence plate recognition technology may have to become a reality. In addition, we are committed to working with the Police to implement road-side sobriety testing during this Parliamentary year.
We also believe in more dependable public transportation. Daily bus service is important for people getting to and from work, and, for our children getting to and from school.
With a reduced number of buses, and a reduced number of mechanics at DPT, we have not kept up with demand. So, we have moved quickly to source locally additional mechanics to expedite the repair of our buses.
We determined the need for even more personnel dedicated to the maintenance of our fleet, after we discovered that there were 14 maintenance positions left vacant by a government hiring freeze.
That hiring freeze has now been lifted, at least for the Department of Public Transportation, which allows my Ministry to get on with the hiring of the needed staff to keep more buses on the road.
There is also equipment important to the maintenance of the buses which is broken and the investment has to be made in this to guarantee proper repair and maintenance of the fleet.
We are still expecting four new buses in the New Year and we are preparing an RFP for additional buses. We are also working with our manufacturers to source external support for mechanics and equipment.
The minibus programme we previously announced to ensure students got to school, has been running since we signed the contract.
Over a two week period, they did more than 250 runs, carrying almost 6,000 passengers.
The contract is for this term, and we hope that around the end of the year we’ll no longer need them. The minibus solution has worked well and we are grateful for their assistance.
With regard to our ferry service, things have been better this year than last, with a larger number of ferries operational. The Millennium Ferry’s contract is coming to an end and we see no need to renew it.
With regard to transportation more universally, we live in the age of minicars, electric cars and we seem to be inching closer to driverless-cars – a true auto-mobile.
With all the changes, it is important to take stock of the future of private and public-service transportation in general.
Our thorough review will lead to a Green Paper on the future of transport in Bermuda.
The last transportation plan was conducted in 2002, so it is about time that we looked at it again and provide the public with an opportunity for input, before establishing a new blueprint for the future of transportation in Bermuda.
We intend to make transportation options more useful for all Bermudians.
This includes the introduction of electronic payment for public transportation, which we believe will be welcomed by locals and visitors alike.
My Ministry is also responsible for energy. This involves the development of policy, legislation and regulation in order to ensure a secure energy future for Bermuda.
We are sifting through various proposals aimed at tackling some of the highest energy costs in the world.
We believe getting a handle on our energy uses and costs will involve new entrepreneurial opportunities and increase economic growth.
We are seeking energy independence and freedom from an over-reliance on fossil fuels. But we also believe it will lead to business opportunities in our economy.
On another note, I encourage all residents to support the West Indian Association’s ‘Give From the Heart’ Telethon which takes place on Thursday evening. This Hurricane fundraising campaign will raise money for those islands devastated by Hurricanes Irma and Maria. Both were Category 5 storms. The event will be held at The Berkeley Institute Cafetorium and aired on local television from 6:00pm to 7:00pm and 7.30pm to 10.30pm.
I urge everyone to give generously.