Too bad the Tourism Minister, Shawn Crockwell, doesn’t understand the impact a 25% hike in cab fares will have on restaurants, retail and one’s ability to see some of the fantastic sights in Bermuda. 

I shudder to think what a family of four staying at the Southampton Princess will pay on their round trip visit to Crystal Caves. Forget the ice cream at Bailey’s kids; we just used up our budget on the taxi ride.

Bermuda Taxi Owners and Operators Association President, Derek Young gave his scenario for the increase as “four people travelling from Hamilton to Elbow Beach will now pay $12.50 instead of $10.” Put another way, they’ll be paying $50 rather than $40 or $100 for a round trip visit to Hamilton and back.   I’m sure Mr and Mrs Visitor-from-the-Northeast with their two children will appreciate this immensely. Can’t you just see the happy faces when Dad peels off a crisp Bermudian fifty and Mr. Taxi Driver awaits his tip? Good times.

Generally speaking, transportation in Bermuda is an appalling situation.  While there are some visitors who enjoy an opportunity to ride with locals on a bus, most hotel guests really do appreciate the spontaneity of jumping in to a cab and getting to their destination.  “Spontaneity” isn’t a word one associates with taxis since waiting at least an hour seems to be the norm these days. Try calling to find out why it’s taking so long and you’ll be met with, “It’s com’n,” or my personal favourite, “We’re still trying to find you one.” This is a comforting thought if you’re trying to make it to the airport on time. 

Cinderella complex 

Feel like a night on the town? It will have to end before midnight. Taxi drivers in Bermuda suffer from a bad case of Cinderella complex and don’t like to be out too much past midnight. If you’re lucky enough to nab a cab after midnight, your ride will cost you an additional 25% so make sure you have the cash since Bermuda taxis are not equipped with credit card machines.  

If you feel yourself getting a little hot under the collar waiting for a taxi, you won’t feel much better once your taxi finally arrives. Every taxi seems to have an air conditioning system that is either broken or in “need of servicing” which is code for “I have no intention of turning it on.”   

It’s hard not to feel that the increases for taxi fares aren’t exorbitant. Although Mr Young is correct that the hotel and retail sectors have received concessions from Government during the last few years, these businesses have high overheads too, including staff and electricity. Most of these employees haven’t enjoyed a raise since 2008 as well but have no choice but to soldier on.   

No one is going to begrudge taxi drivers an increase — it’s the amount, which is extreme. A graduated scheme over the next few years would have been met with more acceptance and empathy for the drivers. There’s a very good chance that this fare increase will have the opposite effect and drivers may find that the number of customers decreases along with their tips.  

Many of Bermuda’s taxi drivers are either near retirement age or are well over 65. While many are happy to drive during the day, few are willing to drive at night. Many only drive to earn what they need and this impacts the level of service that visitors and business travelers are forced to endure. Government should have reviewed this before promising a 25% increase.