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Sep 8, 2016

Bus fares to go up on October first; operators agree with Government

As we reported on Wednesday, bus fares unexpectedly went up in for commuters travelling westbound on Westline, Guerra’s, B.B.O.C. and J and J. The hike in price was as much as fifty cents putting a huge dent on the pockets of travellers. But as it turns outs, the increase was not sanctioned by the proper authorities before it was imposed by bus owners. Today, there was a meeting with the relevant parties and an agreement was reached. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

Commuters traveling along theGeorge Price HighwaybetweenBelizeandBelmopanwould have noticed an unexpected increase in bus fares over the past few days.  That’s because operators collectively agreed to up the cost of passage without negotiating with or notifying the Ministry of Transport.  Despite the need to urgently adjust bus fares, the implementation of new rates sans the approval of the Transport Department was unlawful.

 

EdmondCastro, Minister of State, Transport

Edmond Castro

“It was illegal for them to put together a new price list and change their prices on commuters.  We discussed that.  We also discussed their proposal, the July fourteenth proposal of price hike and we came to a good agreement.  But basically, on an average, we are trying to keep some of the bus fares within the twelve to fourteen cents per mile.  Some of them were down and some of them were way out of whack, some were at ten and nine and some were twenty-odd cents per mile.  So we tried to bring it to a situation whereby it’s between twelve and fourteen cents per mile.”

 

According to transportation stakeholder Thomas Shaw, the random adjustment is due to the ever increasing cost of fuel.  It is simply not profitable for some bus operators to charge the present fees when the cost of fuel continues to spike.

 

Thomas Shaw

Thomas Shaw, Owner, Shaw’s Bus Line

“The operators, for quite a while, have been asking for a raise in bus fares but to no avail.  Their concern wasn’t being supported hence the reason the operators, namely the BBOC and Westline they started to charge some outrageous prices out there, of which the Transport Department didn’t really approve.  So that’s the reason for this meeting today.  So based on that the minister came here today and held a meeting with all the operators to see how they can come to some sort of compromise because they do know that the industry needs some sort of subsidy and assistance and it’s long overdue.”

 

For the time being, it has been agreed that all bus fares will return to previous rates.  A new proposal will be forwarded to the Belize Transport Board for approval before being taken to Cabinet in the days ahead.  Once completed, it will be authorized via a statutory instrument.

 

Edmond Castro

“We have to further now do a round robin and discuss it with the board.  On Tuesday I will take the new proposal to Cabinet and discuss it there and we will then move forward in trying to deal with the Statutory Instrument that will publish the new rates throughout the country.  We’re trying to make sure that everything is balanced.”

 

While an agreement has been met between the relevant parties, the demand for rate adjustments will affect commuters.  There are buses presently in operation that are not roadworthy and the ride is for the most part uncomfortable.  So, what exactly are commuters getting in return for the additional cost?

 

Thomas Shaw

“The sentiment is out there with the operators and we have to understand that progress brings problems and at the end of the day if you want good service then you’ve gotta pay for it.  So basically if the operators are given what they are asking for then maybe they can provide a better service.  As it is, the cry out there with all the operators is the high rise in fuel, the high cost of parts, you know.  Everything out there is a high rise.  Since 1992 bus operators haven’t gotten a raise in this country and they have been operating at the same [rates] and absorbing the same punishment.  Fuel was at a little over eleven dollars a gallon and they were actually charging the same thing.”

 

The proposed implementation for the adjustments will take effect on October first.

 

Isani Cayetano reporting for News Five.

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1 Response for “Bus fares to go up on October first; operators agree with Government”

  1. Daniel says:

    Good afternoon. I intend to catch a bus in the city of Belize to go to San Ignacio. Could you tell me where is the starting point of the bus and what schedules?

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