Recently in Transport Category

Generally it's better to just admit that mistakes were made and that you're working to rectify them rather than trotting out utter nonsense.

And so the ferry saga continues with PLP Senator Marc Bean trotting out this statement:

"In terms of ensuring quality, I ask the question; If the public does not find acceptable, the idea of flying on a 20-year-old airplane, or riding on a 20-year-old bus, then why would we think that they should ride on a 20-year-old ferry?

I thought Marc Bean was a pilot?

How old does he think those Delta, AA, USAir, BA, Air Canada planes are that fly in and out of the island every day? They're over ten, in many case twenty to thirty years old. The only planes younger than that will be the newer airlines like JetBlue which has a young fleet but those planes will be in service well over 20 years. You thought tickets were expensive now, imagine replacing billions of dollars of a fleet every 7 years?

Where does he get the idea that the public doesn't find it acceptable to fly on 20 year old airplanes? They must find it acceptable or no-one would travel by air.

Ask anyone in the aviation insurance business what the hull ages are on commercial airlines and they'll tell you 20-30 years is common, and design life is much longer.

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Bad form to see the driver of GP-1 (minus the Premier) driving along Marsh Folly Rd at 5:40PM today yapping away on a cell phone held up to his ear with one hand.

So much for the new no cell phone while driving law. His boss also just happens to be the Minister or Transport (or Travel for the cynics).

Tut, tut.

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Good to see a new flight to Toronto on WestJet, starting in May of 2010. Air Canada could use a little competition on that route.

I suspect the benefit will be greatest for locals and Canadian families than tourists, but every little bit helps.

There was also a dump of selected stats released again on tourism today. I'm only linking to the article because I'm at the stage where I find tourism stats completely incomprehensible. The constant reclassifications, reporting period changes and highly selective snapshots provided make any kind of informed analysis of trends almost impossible.

Most of the incoherence I put down to political interference, but some is also the press not charting things out, preferring to describe in 1,000 words what could be best illustrated in a nice little picture.

Take this for example:

However air arrivals did increase in September, by one percent -- previously, industry leaders predicted the air arrivals figures would be lower.

One percent in September is rounding error; one percent is Michael Bloomberg bringing a couple extra NY politicians down for a round of golf.

We need trends, not cherry-picked snapshots. A couple of disconnected points does not a trend make.

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Kudos to the Government for cutting the size of the Government fleet by 9%.

“The decision to reduce the numerical size of the Government-owned fleet was not well received in some areas of the public service. However, the Government wishes to applaud those public servants who have lost their previously assigned vehicles without complaint.”

I have one question and two suggestions:

1) Did Cabinet lead by example, or just the civil servants?
2) Government should commit to further reductions through attrition.
3) Future vehicles should be electric or hybrid wherever possible (understanding that hybrid tends to need some higher speeds). As the largest vehicle owner on the island, Government has the purchasing power to jump-start the importation of environmentally clean vehicles. Perhaps they should look to Europe who use natural gas powered buses for a start.

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On Friday, I saw something that I'd never seen in Bermuda, nor would have ever expected to...and I saw it twice.

What was it?

A super shiny black Hummer H3 (and no, for the cynics, the Premier wasn't in it). Here's the wikipedia write-up which is more practical than the corporate site.

Absurd. I did a triple take.

A Hummer in Bermuda will probably gets 30 gallons to the mile on our roads, and this was clearly just a private vehicle with a commercial designation.

So some people won't be entitled to own a car, while others can bring in a ridiculous second car under the guise of a commercial vehicle.

Why on earth does TCD play along with this?

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Some readers provide data points for the claim that the Premier has only used a police escort twice (Keep 'em coming, dates, times and location are very helpful):

A friend also saw GP1 and the police escort rushing along Ferry Reach a few months ago (presumably to the private jet terminal at the airport) ... clearly those Gulfstream IV's present a major security threat ...

and

On Remembrance Sunday I was pulled over by police, on the causeway (rather rudely, police man screamed at me STOP THERE) so GP1 could go racing passed me. I remember thinking it must have been the Premier leaving the church service at St George's and head back home.

There's a theme emerging I think....and it involves air travel.

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From Wednesday's Bermuda Sun, Dr. Brown's Chief of Staff Wayne Caines delivers a real zinger:

"Since Dr. Brown has been elevated to Premier of Bermuda he has used GP1 for hundreds of official engagements; most recently he has used a police escort twice - it is only used in very rare and exceptional circumstances."

Asked what those were, Mr. Caines said he couldn't tell us for "security reasons."

A reader knows the answer to at least one of those exceptional circumstances:

In Wednesday's Sun, Waine Caines declines to comment for 'security reasons' on the Premier's destinations during the two times he has used a police escort. Perhaps he's just worried about the PLP's 'security' in the next election and doesn't want the Bermudian public to know that one of these police escorts was used to race the Premier to the airport to greet the cricket team - according to those Progressive Minds on the PLP blog. If that was one of the two most important trips he has taken in GP1 since he got the keys then it seems he needs to get his priorities in order.

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While a lot of the noise from the immediate reaction to the suggested transport reforms has quitened down, the Ministry did something smart yesterday by putting school buses on in the mornings and afternoon.

This is the obvious thing that should be tackled first to reduce peak hour congestion. And we shouldn't just do this for the private schools, but we should do it for all schools.

It's painfully obvious that traffic flows smoothly when either the public or private schools are out. Traffic in the summer, Christmas or Easter moves no problem whatsoever.

And there's lots of other easy steps to implement first to take the edge off traffic, firstly I'd suggest turning off all the traffic lights in town. Traffic flows great when the lights are off after every hurricane. And if we must have the lights on then we should have left turns on some reds.

And if we don't want school buses, we could stagger the start times of schools so that traffic isn't all coming in for 8:30AM, or whatever time drop-offs are.

There's lots of others as well, ranging from the easy to tolling vehicles into Hamilton (which I think is unnecessary).

But, if we're honest, we really don't have a traffic problem of any significance in Bermuda, and certainly not one that requires drastic, dramatic and divisive steps like limiting car ownership for non-Bermudians.

Regardless, today's article reminded me of something that I meant to mention sooner, which is that from what I've been learned over the past two weeks, it's become evident to me that the idea to limit car ownership for foreign workers has NOTHING to do with reducing traffic and everything to do with increasing votes.

I've also heard through the grapevine that there is no intention to actually implement this, it's just a pre-election stunt...just like term limits prior to the 2003. The problem with these stunts is that they're hard to back away from without losing face.

It's an identical tactic.

A few weeks before the 2003 election the PLP announced term limits and proudly proclaimed their pro-Bermudian credentials. Immediately after the election they backed away from it. Term limits was about getting a few votes, and trying to position the PLP as pro-Bermudian and the UBP as anti-Bermudian when they spoke sense against the policy.

Today, now that term limits are technically coming due, we have a situation where the PLP have come up with so many exemptions that anyone can be exempted and tons will be. The policy of today is meaningless and should just be revoked. But they can't back away from it entirely, so they're pretending term limits exist, when all you need to do is make a donation to the party or Government's pet project of the hour and an employer can get whatever exemptions you need.

Cue car ownership limits....an as-yet unformulated idea to limit car ownership for some expats that really should be explained as follows:

For every expat the PLP can be seen denying a car to they gain X number of votes.

So here we are today, like in 2003 with term limits, on the eve of the election with the PLP proposing a policy intended not to solve a problem but to play into some voters insecurities and animosity towards non-Bermudians.

So don't be fooled. This is just another insincere example of pre-election politicking - divide and conquer.

The election is well on its way. There's no way Parliament resumes in May.

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A number of people have emailed me with similar comments on a) the logistics of having employers with more than 10 employees police the auto purchases of their staff and b) an expectation that businesses should just reincorporate into an endless number of companies each with 9 employees.

But on the bright side, the Finance Minister can tout the increasing number of businesses setting up in Bermuda as proof term limits aren't having an impact.

A reader weighs in with the real outcome:


The broader implication is that we (Bermudians) want both to have our cake and to eat it as well. But as we make it more difficult for anyone to do business here because it is politically expedient (far easier to say that an expat took a job from a Bermudian than to take responsibility ourselves for the abject and utter failure of our public school system to equip our kids to be able to do that same job, or any job at all) we should not be surprised when we finally learn what everyone else in the world knows already, knowledge based jobs generally follow the person with the knowledge, and if we chase that person from Bermuda we probably chase the job away as well.

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Here we go again, more of "us and them".

It was announced today that among other car ownership restrictions, any business who has more than 10 non-Bermudian employees will have car ownership for those non-Bermudians restricted.

Couple this with useless term limits and we have a real decrease in the quality of life for non-Bermudians that will just encourage businesses to look elsewhere for a home - which will only hurt Bermudians in the end.

Check out the Irish newspaper article covered today in the Gazette which describes Dublin's glee at Bermuda continuing to turn ourselves into a second tier jurisdiction to run your business.

This is ridiculous and I can tell you that most employers are incensed by this. I'd been told weeks ago by some business owners that this might be coming, and they were outraged. I don't just mean whining, they were outraged.

Bermuda has a traffic problem at peak times, one that can be addressed with solutions that Bermudian and non-Bermudian can share in equally.

Our traffic problem is caused by both non-Bermudians and Bermudians, probably more so by Bermudian car ownership, yet the PLP continues to insist that the solution is to turn non-Bermudians into second class citizens.

Why stop at limiting non-Bermudian car ownership. How's about anyone who is married to a Bermudian? Or anyone who holds dual citizenship?

Or how's about Cabinet Ministers with oversized second cars?

Here's a question? How many cars does Dr. Brown have access to and own? Hmmm.

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I haven't heard the details, but evidently the Bermuda Airport Fire Service rolled another of their fire trucks this morning.

Thanks to TM (via TS) for the pics.

[UPDATE: My airport sleuth reports that the truck was out on a training run, tried to make a turn at too high a speed and rolled over THREE TIMES before finally stopping.]

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This is the type of thing that gets me annoyed.

No, not the fact that the Premier hires three new employees and refuses to disclose the cost to the taxpayer, although that bugs me too.

What really bugs me, is the sheer hypocrisy of it all.

Just last week, the Bermuda Sun published an article declaring that Premier Brown was going to get tough over automobiles.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the Premier hires a Press Secretary and a Chief of Staff, who in addition to fat undisclosed paychecks get a car each.

And the Speaker of the House was recently given a car after being snubbed on a pay raise.

That's three more totally unnecessary vehicles on the road. Everyone sacrifices but the political elite.

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May I join the chorus (click here, here and here) on the stupidity of the Police declaring they'll be enforcing the 35kph speed limit.

The fatality problem isn't due to people driving at 40kph or even 50kph, which I'd consider the 'normal' speed on our roads. The problem is dangerous driving, reckless over/under-taking and people racing around late at night with a few cold ones in them.

But that involves work. What is proposed is simply lazy policing: throw a few road blocks up during slow-moving rush hour, ticketing bikes in the third lane on East Broadway or installing cameras and the like. These tactics are little more than backdoor taxation/revenue collection and won't change behaviour on the roads one bit.

What is needed is uniformed cops out on the roads...moving...not parked up and picking off the low hanging fruit.

What is needed is cops on the roads during the day and night in unmarked vehicles, hauling in every maniac who screams past them on a blind corner or tailgates on Harbour Rd..

What is needed is a resumption of those late Friday/Saturday night traffic stops impounding loud and modified vehicles...which are also much more likely to be stolen. When I went 16 these were commonplace on weekends and late nights.

What is need is to pull over and impound those vehicles with license plates strategically covered in mud or with locks obscuring them.

That takes policing. How's about we get back to that.

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Hmmm. Today's Senate session is shaping up as an interesting one.

The first item being debated now, is the change recently passed in the House on a party line vote implementing a limousine service to compete with taxis. I've been listening in this morning.

So far, it's clear the 3 UBP Senators will vote no, and at least two independents appear to be indicating likewise.

I'll post the outcome of the vote when it happens.

Following on that could be the Parliamentary salary hike. It's not clear if the Senate will debate it today, but two Senate defeats in one day would be unusual, and affirm the Senate's usefulness is serving as a check on the impulses of the governing party.

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