The GPS system saves data on every trip taxi drivers take, and allows dispatchers to message them. *Photo by Amanda Dale
The GPS system saves data on every trip taxi drivers take, and allows dispatchers to message them. *Photo by Amanda Dale

Some cabbies in Bermuda object to GPS because they say they don’t want an authority keeping tabs on them.

By law, any taxi owner with a licence must operate 16-hours a day. But there are allegations that not all operators adhere to this.

In New York City, GPS was partly enforced to make cabbies more accountable and to prevent them from ‘ripping off’ passengers with higher fares.

Since installation of the tracking systems among NYC’s 13,237 cabs in 2007-8, there have been many prosecutions for fraud.

So can Bermuda also benefit?

Taxi driver/owner Dupierre Simons said: “Bermuda is so small that everyone tends to know where they’re going and the approximate cost, so you can’t get away with fraud like that here.”

But he said GPS did make drivers more accountable.

“When I hit the ‘send’ button on the screen, that registers with the (dispatching) company how much the job has cost and where I am,” he said.

“The system informs them how many jobs you’ve done over a certain time period, so they can see who is picking up work at any time.”

Raymond Robinson, president of BTA (Dispatching) Ltd, said however, that dispatching companies have no control over individual operators.

“If a driver accepts a job from us and then doesn’t go, or if he is rude to a customer, there’s not much we can do.

“The only place the client can really complain to is TCD (Transport Control Department).

“As a dispatching company, there have been occasions when a driver hasn’t shown up and the customer is mad at us. But we don’t own that car. 

600 personalities

“We are not like the companies overseas, with a fleet. Bermuda is small and all the taxis are individually owned, apart from a few operators with more than one cab. 

“So you are dealing with 500-600 different personalities, and we can’t control them.”

Mr Robinson, a taxi driver/owner himself, added: “But it all boils down to data and, with this system, we can provide this for our drivers, operators and authorities. 

“For example, ‘This driver signed on at 8am and signed off at 4pm’. We have data on every trip they did, where they picked up, and dropped off. This also helps us with lost property. You can go into the system to find out who the driver was.

“If someone leaves their passport in the cab on the way to the airport — and it does happen — we can message the driver to go back with it. People also leave cameras and cellphones, which can sometimes slip down a seat. This technology helps us to help our customers.”