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Apr 26, 2002

G.O.B.: Mistakes made on printed list of bus fares

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Exactly two weeks ago, Belize’s bus operators announced to the nation that due to several factors, consumers would be asked to pay more to ride the bus. The proclamation set off a series of protests from different sectors of society, especially after the government told the public the many of the revised rates were illegal under the road service permits issued to bus owners. The Ministry of Transport tried to get the situation under control by holding meetings with the bus owners to reach a compromise on the rates. After more than a day of deadlock, on Wednesday of this week, the very day Benqueños clashed violently with police following a demonstration against the revised prices, the department released a new list of the standardised fares. The numbers were meant to pacify the protestors and signify stability in the industry that had been rocked to its core. But today, the saga of the bus industry continues. Bus riders pointed out to News 5 this afternoon that there are errors in the published list of prices. We have confirmed with both bus operators and the Ministry of Transport that mathematical mistakes have been made with several of the routes. Transport official Tirso Galvez explains to News 5 what went wrong.

Janelle Chanona

“Why is there a difference in the prices?”

Tirso Galvez, Operations Manager, Dept. of Transport

“Well, what happen is that we, looking at what came out, we realise that we were under a little bit of pressure there and we made some minor errors with the figures. For example, the Belize to Belmopan fares was four dollars and the Belmopan to Benque Viejo was four dollars. So in other words, the distance from Belize City to Benque should be eight dollars, not seven dollars.

“The problem is just a matter of looking very closely at the fares and realising that hey, something is wrong with this. How could they charge four dollars from Belize to Belmopan and four dollars from Belmopan to Benque Viejo and then charge from Belize City to Benque seven dollars. It’s just a matter of looking very carefully and you’ll see that very much the same had occurred in many instances for similar distances with different fares.”

“The fares which the bus owners have now with the department stamp on it should be displayed and that should be the fares now that people should go by.”

Janelle Chanona

“Do you have any other messages for the public, who at this point might be feeling a little frustrated with all the changes of late?”

Tirso Galvez

“Well all I’d like to say to them is that yes, we understand how they feel about the whole situation, but it’s just a matter of looking at the rates and the distances and just be reasonable enough to accept that yes, prices have not gone up for quite some time. And it’s not a matter of raising the price in this case, because it’s still within the ceiling fares of their road service permits, and just adjusting all the road service permits with all the similar distances and similar fares more or less. And another thing to consider is the road condition in some of the cases for some of these small bus operators.”

Janelle Chanona

“So the Ministry of Transport and the Belize Bus Owners Alliance have finally reached a compromise? You guys have sorted out all your problems?”

Tirso Galvez

“Actually yes, at least to this…so far with all the meetings that we have, we have agreed finally with this document that is now to be presented in all the busses. And yes, there are still more to be looked at in the future as to further discussion, not with the bus, but within the ministry itself as to come up with the proper method of doing the fares.”

In related news, viewers should note that gas prices, one of the original reasons cited by bus operators as a factor in the price hikes, increased earlier this week. News 5 understands regular gas is now six dollars and forty-nine cents a gallon, up five cents; premium is six seventy-eight, an increase of ten cents, while diesel is up three cents to four dollars and fifty-six cents.

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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