Counselor Alifah Hyde says no need for consultations for change in bus routes
Thousands of Belizeans ride city buses on a daily basis, many of them travelling between downtown Belize City and areas in every other corner of the municipality. But last week, City Hall decided to do away with city buses in the downtown area, and that decision has resulted in mounting criticism and protest. The new hub for buses is on Regent Street West, and that designated bus stop isn’t making many people ecstatic. In fact, commuters are upset, and very much so. Today Mike Rudon caught up with the City Councilor responsible for transport Alifah Elrington for a response to the many angry cries of commuters. Here’s that story.
Violet Jones, Longtime Commuter [File: September 16th, 2013]
“I think it’s a waste of time because there are a lot of old people who catch the bus, a lot of students who catch the bus, especially in the morning time. So I think it’s a waste of time for the bus to come this side because it’s a distance, and there’s no shelter out here. If it rains people will get wet.”
Alifah Elrington-Hyde, Councilor Responsible for Traffic
“First let me say that no decision that comes out of the council is a unilateral decision. So for those who feel that the decision that was made was a unilateral decision by Councilor Alifa Elrington-Hyde; it is not a unilateral decision. These are things …these are what we are exploring. We are exploring different options and we are putting different things in place.”
That is no consolation for commuters who are angry at what they feel is an arbitrary move by the council, made without any good sense or consultation.
“There was no consultation with respect to changing the bus routes. There was no consultation with respect to changing the bus stop. I don’t think the council thought it necessary to have a consultation of that nature because it wasn’t as—for the lack of a better word—we didn’t foresee that it would have caused such controversy to change the bus stop. It’s a situation where we saw a problem and we were trying to fix a problem. And we are still trying to fix the problem.”
Two concerns which keep being raised are the lack of infrastructure, like a bus shed or shelter on Regent Street West…and the fact that the area is not safe – not in the daytime and certainly not at night, since buses run until nine o’clock.
“And all of those issues will be addressed and all of those issues were in place to be addressed as well. It is not as if the council just sporadically decided to do this and we don’t have a plan as to what we are going to do. There will be infrastructure, there will be security. We acknowledge these concerns, we ourselves considered these concerns, but we just did what we thought we could have done at that point in time.”
“But would you agree that maybe it looks sporadic. You are saying that it is not sporadic, but if there are plans to do it, then wouldn’t it have made sense to put in that infrastructure, to address the issue of security; to maybe build a shed and then change the bus route and move the parking over there?”
“The difficulties that we were having at the time were more pressing than building a structure. It is not as if we won’t build a structure. There is actually a plan to do an entire upliftment of that area which would take much more time than we had at the point in time with respect to the difficulty that we were facing as to why we moved the bus stop. So it is not as if I woke up one morning and told the council to move the bus stop. It is something that we were planning and the infrastructure is coming.”
But there is no timeline on when those issues will be addressed, and as to all the protest…well, even if it’s not exactly falling on deaf ears, the Council isn’t prepared to back down from its position.
“It’s difficult to give an approximation with respect to the infrastructure because like I said, there is an entire plan with respect to that particular street which involves also the concreting of that street. So it is an entire plan to do the street, uplift the street, uplift the entire area and put in the necessary infrastructure and I would not be able to set a time frame within which time that will be done.”
“Would you at any point, depending on the criticism which seems to be mounting, will the council at any point be prepared to say let’s push this back and go back to the way it was done until we can change that area and change the whole look of that area and put the structures in place?”
“I don’t know if that is an option for the council at this point in time depending on what continues to happen. But I would not be able to say that that is an option at this point in time. I am not going to say that that is an option at this point in time.”
There is no word yet on when the proposed renovation of the Regent Street West area will get underway. Mike Rudon for News Five.Email This Story