Help me get my Bermuda bus passes, please

By | January 7th, 2017

When John Ozga boards the bus in Bermuda after a long wait, the Bermuda Department of Public Transportation takes him for a wild ride. Can our advocates clear the roadblocks between him and compensation for his bus fare?

Question: Last April, my friend Mark and I purchased one-day bus passes for $20 each in Bermuda. We waited at a stop between Horseshoe Bay and the Dockyard for over an hour with several other people.

When a bus finally arrived, it was overcrowded, and the driver allowed only a few of those waiting at the stop to board the bus. A group of six people tried to board but the bus could only accommodate four more people, so they chose to get off and stay together. My partner and I immediately got on in their place, but the driver yelled at us to get off the bus. Since she wasn’t going to move the bus, we disembarked.

About ten minutes later another bus came. This bus was full, but the driver allowed everyone waiting to board. He started driving erratically through the narrow and winding streets toward the Dockyard. At one point, as we came around a corner, a large green trash truck was stopped in the road. The bus driver nearly hit the truck, stopping only about six inches away. People standing on the bus went flying forward into the windshield and even those sitting slid forward off their seats.

We complained to the Bermuda Department of Public Transportation and asked for a refund of our bus fares. The department investigated our complaint and apologized but told us that it has no means of providing a refund. Department agents promised to send us each a two-day bus pass. Now months have passed, and after numerous emails to them, we still have no bus passes. Can you help us get things moving with the department concerning our bus passes? — John Ozga, Port St. Lucie, Fla.

Answer: Yikes! A bus ride is not supposed to be a demolition derby. I’m so sorry you had such a terrible ride after waiting so long to get on the bus. I’ve been a regular bus passenger in my past life, but although I’ve had some hairy bus trips, they don’t come close to what you experienced.

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Sometimes buses do get crowded, especially when there is a special occasion or traffic issues that cause more people than usual to need transportation. But since you don’t mention in your paperwork that any such conditions existed at the time of your visit to Bermuda, that suggests that the Bermuda Department of Public Transportation may have had too few buses operating that day.

But that’s no excuse for drivers to be rude to passengers, much less to risk their safety with erratic and unsafe driving.

The extended mission statement of the Department of Public Transportation, as provided in the Public Access to Information (PATI) Statement includes “Maintaining the highest standards of quality and safety,” and one of the department’s core values is “Transportation is a vital service that should always be affordable, safe, reliable, clean and customer-focused.”

In view of your experience, something figuratively went off the road between this statement and the service you actually received. And the delay in providing you the passes adds insult to the physical injury you nearly sustained. This is totally unacceptable service for a mass transportation provider, not to mention that it completely contradicts the department’s own mission statement. It should have provided you with safe and timely service in the first place – and when it didn’t do that, it should have promptly sent you the bus passes it promised you by way of compensation.

You contacted our advocacy team for assistance. We reached out to the Bermuda Department of Public Transportation on your behalf, and have been notified that the department has issued you the bus passes. We’re sorry that it took so long and required our involvement for the department to send them to you.

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