By Lindsey Turnbull
Minister for Tourism and Transport Kenneth Bryan spoke with Caymanian Times publisher Ralph Lewis this week about his thoughts on current tourism and transport issues. In part one of this discussion, the Minister talks about at the implementation of electric busses for the Cayman Islands.
Minister Bryan and his team, which included the Tourism Director Rosa Harris who was acting in her capacity as Chairperson for the Transportation Board, recently travelled to Barbados for the International Roads Federation Conference. While the team were involved in presentations on the technical aspects of road creation in the region, Minister Bryan revealed they had some specific goals.
“What we hoped to do on that trip was to examine the Barbados transportation system as they are one of the leading small island states in the Caribbean that is moving forward with electric busses. They have over 40 electric busses and they operate with Wi-Fi/ A/C and are very environmentally-friendly,” he advised.
“The good news from what we saw is that we don’t have to reinvent the wheel,” the Minister said, outlining that such busses were very much inline with the government’s desire to have a more environmentally sustainable and reliable transport system.
The Minister said he looked forward to more dialogue with the Barbados government soon in this respect to borrow some of their processes. He said they had an idea of the amount of busses Cayman would need, around two per route, at a total of between 23 and 25 busses.
Minister Bryan said they were already learning from Barbados’s mistakes in that they did not charge their busses via solar power. He said the government was looking at building a solar powered station, to become more sustainable. They were looking also at who would oversee the electric busses.
“I don’t think the current set up with the transport unit is ideal. I’m looking more to an authority or government-owned company because I think transportation, at least in the initial stages, should be something within the power of the people rather than a company, or a PPP partnership with the private sector,” he advised.
Changes to Cayman’s legislation was on the cards to make it happen, he said, including giving busses more priority on Cayman’s roads. Changes would not take place in this Budget cycle (which ends on 31 December 2023) but would be in place in the Ministry’s Budget submission for 2024 to 2025.
When taking into consideration the impact such a new bus system might have on existing bus operators, Minister Bryan said that it was well-known which way they were going on the issue, although they were trying to ensure Caymanian bus drivers would get priority on any new hirings and that they would get a salary, thereby avoiding competition to ensure a comprehensive system that served everybody.
“It’s the will of the people,” he said. “The public have said its not reliable, its not safe its not what we want.”