The Volt averages 253.4 mpg, but is too big for Bermuda’s roads. *Photo courtesy of GM
The Volt averages 253.4 mpg, but is too big for Bermuda’s roads. *Photo courtesy of GM

I have been watching with interest the unfolding drama about the arrival of the first batch of new buses imported to Bermuda since 2009. These buses will help update the ageing fleet of 112 ‘Pink and Blues’. 

It seems the buses that have arrived are the first three of a batch of 12 ordered from Portugal.  

The reason for the drama is that the new buses are apparently three inches too wide to meet the legislated maximum width overall of 90.55” (2300mm). Who says size doesn’t matter?

I feel sure that by the time you read this article the problem will have been solved via some legislative loophole or ministerial override, which is certainly the desired outcome considering they cost us around $250,000 each and are here anyway. 

However, what it does highlight is that when it comes to transportation in Bermuda, ‘size’ most certainly does matter. 

Every class of vehicle from private cars to funeral home limousines, with the exception of motor cycles, has a legislated maximum length and maximum width.

Now, obviously with the unique nature of Bermuda’s roads, it makes a lot of sense to set some maximums.

Our road width is a finite resource and needs to be shared amongst us all. But what we really need to consider is whether all these restrictions are actually in the best interest of Bermuda and the preservation of both the environment and economy for our children.  

Historically, the primary reason for creating the numerous vehicle categories was as a basis for tax revenue. The longer or larger the vehicle, the greater the annual licence fee. 

Obviously, given our current financial malaise, any reevaluation of the existing system would have to be sympathetic to the essential mandate of preserving, or better still, enhancing government revenue.

Sadly, the biggest problem with the existing regulations is that they make no allowance for the efficiency of the vehicle and its long term impact on our fragile environment. 

In fact, the only metric under consideration is scale. 

A quick search of the world’s most efficient vehicles makes for interesting reading (see Table 1). 

Top of the list is the current European Car of the Year, the Vauxhall Ampera/Chevrolet Volt. 

Thanks to an ingenuous combination of electric-drive and petrol-powered electricity generator for when the 40 mile range is exhausted, the car gives electric vehicle motoring without the usual range restrictions.

And it delivers a staggering official combined economy figure of 235.4 mpg. Imagine if this fuel miser came to Bermuda?

Sadly, it can’t because it is 2.7 inches too long and would have an annual TCD fee of more than $1,595.05.

Next on the list is the Toyota Prius Hybrid with a combined fuel economy of 134.5 mpg.

This vehicle is 1.38 inches too long and caries a potential TCD fee of more than $1,595.05. 

The Toyota Yaris hybrid comes with a combined economy figure of 80.7 mpg and a length of 153 inches, which finally makes it eligible for import to Bermuda under the current rules and puts it in Class D for TCD. That would cost a fee of $693.50.

Ironically, many of the cars driving around our roads today are burning up to 10 times the amount of fuel as the Ampera and are almost the same size (see the Jeep Patriot in the table).  

Remember, every gallon of fuel we burn in Bermuda must be purchased with foreign currency that leaves the island, so anything we can do to minimize the exodus of those dollars is a very good thing. 

My alternative to the current system is shown in Table 2. Let’s penalize the gas guzzlers and reward the fuel misers.

I think it’s well worth the extra three inches! 

Nick Duffy

is the divisional manager at Bermuda Alternate Energy. You may send comments and suggestions to info@bae.bm 



Fuel efficiency comparisons hybrids vs popular SUV Jeep Patriot

Table 1

Model

Type

Length

Width

MPG

Class

Fee

Ampera/Volt

Hybrid

177.7 +2.7”

Okay

253.4

H+

$1,595.05

Toyota Prius

Hybrid

176.4 +1.4”

Okay

134.5

H+

$1,595.05

Toyota Yaris

Hybrid

153.0

Okay

80.7

D

$ 693.50

Jeep Patriot

Gasoline

173.8

Okay

25.2

H

$1,595.50

Note: All Fuel Consumption figures converted to miles per Imperial gallon.

 

 

TABLE 2

Present TCD fees (length-based) and efficiency-based TCD Fees

Class

Length

Fee

MPG

Fee

A

Up to 138”

$288.35

More than 75

$100

B

138-144” (+6”)

$397.85

60 - 75

$300

C

144-150” (+6”)

$562.10

50 - 60

$600

D

150-156” (+6”)

$693.50

40 - 50

$1000

E

156-162” (+6”)

$970.00

30 - 40

$1,500

F

162-166” (+4”) ?

$1,127.85

20 - 30

$2,700

G

166-169” (+3”) ??

$1,310.35

Less than 20

$4,000

H

169-175” (+6”) ???

$1,595.05

 

 

Fees intended as suggested guidelines only