You can't privatise Bermuda's bus service

One thing that often comes up when it comes to government cost-cutting, is allowing certain services to go into the private sector, with the belief that the private sector would find ways to run the service more efficiently and more profitable.

Problem is, that there are certain services that shouldn't be expected to be profitable. Minimise losses, sure.

Healthcare, postal services, trash collection and public transportation are often mention as suitable services to be run independent of government influence. Each of the above have great value to our community, but it's difficult to envision a system of privatisation of either that wouldn't immediately lead to a loss of service.

Throw healthcare out of the discussion immediately; this community is too small to sustain any semblance of a profitable hospital and support services. And a centralized hospital (and support clinics, etc) with access to all members of the public is essential.

Postal service, perhaps. It may be the least essential of the above-mentioned services, and from one perspective, it could probably be streamlined somehow to be more efficient without cutting service to those who use it most.

Trash collection, well, we've been using twice-a-week trash collection for several years now, and with the amount of trash that we seem to generate, things like cutting back pickups to once-a-week or a staggered system (e.g. every 4/5 days) wouldn't find favour with several residents. Would people be willing to subscribe to a privatised trash collection service? Could be something worth listening to if some budding entrepreneur had suggestions and a sound business plan.

And of course, the bus and ferry system. What's hilarious is that most of the people who advocate privatisation of public transport appear to have no experience whatsoever with actually using buses or ferries, nor any semblance of reliance on them for any period of time.

Let's say that buses and ferries are all sold or distributed to a private enterprise. The first thing that the new owners will do is streamline routes. Face it, some routes get far less volume than others. So bye-bye, #4 Spanish Point route. Hope you're happy with one bus in the morning and one in the evening. Similar story for the #2 Ord Road, #5 Pond Hill, #6 St. David's. Senior citizens and other disabled persons on those routes? Sorry, but you can call a taxi or maybe pay triple fare on those misnamed "minibuses" (really, hired vans). Weekends on those routes? Ha. Good luck with that. And don't chuckle, folks on the #1, #3 and #9 routes. You think it sucks being cut off after 6:15pm? Try 5:45. Then you're stuck with a cab or bust.

The point is that service would become so drastically cut on a privatised bus system, along with a major hiking of rates, that the bus system (and ferries, for that matter) would cease to become anything of worth whatsoever. It's just not that easy.

I haven't even brought up the very real issue of deliberating and arrangements with the workers' unions involved. That would pose a major challenge to any initiative even if it was green-lighted by the powers that be. I think that the proposed schedule adjustments submitted to them are a decade old and not acted on. Wonder if the new Transport Minister has even looked at it, much less acknowledged it. Doubtful. But that's another topic.

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