Efficient: Garniea Hollis, BTA’s dispatching centre supervisor, takes a call from a customer and immediately dispatches a cab. *Photo by Amanda Dale
Efficient: Garniea Hollis, BTA’s dispatching centre supervisor, takes a call from a customer and immediately dispatches a cab. *Photo by Amanda Dale

The dispatching centre

BTA handles all its calls at its dispatching centre at LF Wade International Airport.

The company has divided the island’s 21 square miles into 32 zones, and each is displayed on a map of Bermuda on each dispatcher’s computer screen.

Each cab is identified by its number plus a coloured spot, to indicate whether it is available (green), blue (loaded with a passenger), pink (on a break) or white (turned off).

Once a customer calls for a cab, the dispatcher enters their name, address and phone number into the system.

If it’s a repeat customer, their details come up automatically without re-typing. The dispatcher then alerts the cars closest to the client and sees who accepts the job.

Raymond Robinson, BTA president, said: “It’s all automated software, so they don’t have to call any individual taxis. Most customers’ information is already on the system.

“You can look at the map and see the closest car to the job — who will be the quickest. The system also shows us how many cars are available in each zone.”

Garniea Hollis, dispatching centre supervisor, said: “It’s not as complicated as everyone makes out. It’s very helpful and easy to use.”

The taxi driver

Dupierre Simons showed the Bermuda Sun how his GPS system works, with a ‘test’ job posted by BTA at the Fairmont Hamilton Princess.

Mr Simons hit the ‘accept’ button and then ‘ETA’, which then alerts the customer by automated phone call as to his estimated time of arrival, in minutes.

Once at his destination, he hits ‘arrive’ and then ‘call out’, and the system calls the client to say  his taxi is waiting outside. The automated voice also gives the taxi number

Once the customer gets in, he hits the ‘load’ button and the meter, which starts the fare. On arrival at the destination, he hits the meter again to register the final fare. 

Once the passenger gets out, he hits ‘unload’, which alerts the system and BTA that his job has finished.

Mr Simons says that drivers are alerted to jobs available near to them by an ‘offered’ message, with the location details. By hitting his ‘map’ button he can also see all the zones in Bermuda in which there are jobs available.

‘SAP’ means a car is needed as soon as possible. He can also see how many BTA cabs are in a certain area at any one time. For example, when we looked, his screen showed one car in Spanish Point (zone 16), and nine cars at LF Wade International Airport (zone 29). 

Mr Simons also showed a 3D navigational screen showing his taxi parked outside the Bermuda Sun on Elliott Street, Hamilton: “The company can see exactly where my car is,” he said. In addition to the dispatcher alerting him to jobs, he can also ‘bid’ on jobs himself. Hitting the ‘bidding’ button allows him five to seven minutes to reach that zone.

“If you’re there before anyone else, you get the job, and you can hit the ‘accept’ button,” he said.

As each fare is about to end he can also hit the ‘STC’ button — ‘soon to clear’. This alerts BTA and the automated system that he is about to become available for another job, speeding up the opportunity of picking up another fare.