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Apr 12, 2022

Brace for Bus Fare Increase, Effective Good Friday

If you are planning to travel by bus this Easter, you better bring along a little extra cash. New rates go into effect this weekend, the result of negotiations between the bus industry and the government that were sparked by rising fuel costs. Marion Ali spoke with Minister of Transport, Rodwell Ferguson today.


Marion Ali, Reporting

Effective this Friday – Good Friday – the price you pay to get from village to village and district to district will go up. In a letter from President of the Belizean Bus Association, Thomas Shaw to Minister Rodwell Ferguson bearing today’s date, Shaw thanked the Minister for listening to them and for agreeing to grant the requests the bus operators have been clamouring for.  These include a six-month fuel subsidy to bus operators worth one point one million dollars, as well as approval to increase their bus fares, and approval to bus permits that will be valid for between eight and ten years. Minister Ferguson said the bus operators had raised the concern that they were operating at a loss with the price of diesel at thirteen dollars and forty-one cents a gallon. The bus operators were threatening to strike, but the government managed to avoid that through negotiations. So effective Friday, passengers traveling a twelve-mile journey will pay twenty-five cents more, while passengers going between thirteen and twenty-five miles will pay fifty cents more, and passengers going further than twenty-five miles will pay a dollar more than what they’re currently paying.   Minister Ferguson says that the fuel subsidy will take effect for a six-month period, based on the current costs of fuel prices.


Rodwell Ferguson

Voice of: Rodwell Ferguson, Minister of Transport

“We had capped the price for them at twelve-fifty because we are going to give them back ninety-one cents in the subsidy. And so while they pay thirteen forty-one at the pumps for argument’s sake, through the subsidy they are going to get back ninety-one cents.”


Marion Ali

“Within that six-month period, fuel prices might increase a dozen times. I’m asking if the government will absorb the difference in increases over that six-month period.”


Voice of: Rodwell Ferguson

“Well, Cabinet is trying to stabilize the price of diesel, so definitely it’s going to be a loss to the government if at the end of the day it goes to fifteen dollars per gallon. But government is doing its best to stabilize the price of fuel.”


And while it appears that the bus operators got everything in their favour, according to the Minister, they wanted an even bigger price hike.


Voice of: Rodwell Ferguson

“What the operators wanted, Marion was more than what we negotiated, so there had to be a compromise. And I understand you about the commuters but the price of fuel, the price of goods is going up across the world, not only in Belize.”


And while the permits of up to ten years seem a bit long for bus companies to hold, Minister Ferguson explained that the length of time they are given to operate will allow them to be able to get and repay loans to upgrade their buses.


Voice of: Rodwell Ferguson

“With a two-year permit, the bank will tell you I can’t give you a loan just based on your bus. You have to come up with a piece of farm land or some other collateral to be able to get your loan. So we are saying with eight to ten year permits, the operators will have eight years to repay the loan and they should be more comfortable because then they are more secure.”


Marion Ali

“Okay, but does this address those bus operators that refuse to upgrade their service and the buses they put on the road are not roadworthy?”


Voice of: Rodwell Ferguson

“We are giving the operators up to December 2022 to upgrade and those who don’t want to upgrade will only get a two-year permit and eventually we will have to take them out of the system. I’m sorry.”


Marion Ali

“Have they agreed to that?”


Voice of: Rodwell Ferguson

“They have agreed to that.”


While the bus operators have until December to acquire better buses, commuters will have to dig deeper into their pockets as of this Friday in order to be able to travel.


Marion Ali for News Five.

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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