Lack of taxis ‘costing island money’

  • Big issue: Peter Everson

    Big issue: Peter Everson

  • John Wight, president of the Bermuda Chamber of Commerce

    John Wight, president of the Bermuda Chamber of Commerce

Bermuda’s poor taxi service is costing the island money, a business consultant and non-executive director of the Bermuda Tourism Authority has warned.

Peter Everson said that an Uber-style ride-sharing service could take up the slack without killing off the traditional taxi service.

He added: “We shoot ourselves in the foot. Every single visitor to Bermuda goes home with money they wanted to spend here.

“Why? Because they couldn’t physically get to where they wanted to.”

Mr Everson added: “The taxi drivers are older than the average age of the population. They are not there when they are needed.

“If it wasn’t for the minibuses, we’d be dead in the water.

“Next April, there will be more tourists coming and guest satisfaction is going down because they all spend too much time waiting.”

Research has shown that about 80 per cent of American visitors expected to find something similar to Uber on the island.

Mr Everson said that a failure to provide alternatives to taxis would cause a decline in visitor confidence.

He was speaking after he highlighted transport problems to an audience of business leaders at HSBC’s Harbourview Building.

Mr Everson said the introduction of an Uber-type service would help to put money in the pockets of Bermudians.

He added there was an increase in air arrivals of under-45s from New York and Boston, who wanted to spend less money in foreign-owned hotels and more on Bermudian experiences.

Mr Everson said: “If we don’t sort transport out, we are going to get poor ratings and therefore we are not going to capitalise on those we have. Whatever the solutions are, we want them operational by April 1, 2019. That is six months away.

“Unless a taxi is pre-booked, trying to get something at 10pm is a big issue. Many taxis are tied up in corporate work, doing tours for cruise ship passengers or sitting at the hotels.

“It doesn’t leave an awful lot left for everybody else. If we did have an Uber-type service, the taxis will still have a business because the tours and corporate jobs and transfers to the airport will still be there — there will be business.

“I have sympathy with them but it has been on the table for 20 years that the service has been less than we need.

“Every time a tourist spends 15 minutes waiting for a bus, ferry or taxi, they are not spending money. If they were told it will be 20 minutes at least they can go and do something but that doesn’t happen.”

The Bermuda Taxi Operators Association declined to comment on the introduction of Uber-style services.

But a spokesman said better distribution of the island’s 600-strong fleet would allow cabs to be on the road for longer.

Glenn Jones, director of strategy and corporate communications at the BTA, said research showed that young city-based adults were more likely to use ride-sharing services.

Mr Jones added: “We prefer to think broader than ride sharing. Ultimately, the experience the BTA aspires to create for visitors is one that’s completely frictionless. This is a sure-fire way to set ourselves apart from our competitors.

“From arrival at the airport to ground transportation to checking into hotels — the visitor experience should be without friction, a goal that is entirely attainable if we use technology and customer service together effectively.”

Mr Jones said more information would be released in the National Tourism Plan, due to be released this month at the Bermuda Tourism Summit.

John Wight, president of the Bermuda Chamber of Commerce, said: “Bermuda needs to adapt to the changing needs of its tourist and business visitors.

“If we want to retain those customers and have them come back to Bermuda, we are going to have to meet their services expectations.

“That encompasses a broader transportation model for Bermuda that includes taxis, buses, ferries and every mode of transportation.”

Mr Wight added: “We want to very much protect the job of every Bermudian that we can, but at the same time, whether it be transportation or insurance or retail, businesses have to change and evolve with the needs of their customers.”

The Government is to publish a transport Green Paper, which will canvass the views of the public.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Transport said; “We are not actively exploring Uber or any services like that in Bermuda at this time.”

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Published Oct 6, 2018 at 8:00 am (Updated Oct 6, 2018 at 7:05 am)

Lack of taxis ‘costing island money’

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