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Feb 14, 2023

Ride Along With Us on the Six O’clock Express Bus, From Belize City to Belmopan

For Belizeans who rely on public transportation for their daily commute, they will find the following story all too familiar. Recently, the conversation about improving public transport in Belize has been at the fore. Commuters have used the mediums available to them to express their discontent, while the Government of Belize is undertaking a process to upgrade the services currently available. But, the news has not all been welcomed, especially for bus operators with buses that are seriously outdated and unfit to be on the road. We have heard multiple sides of the discourse, and today News Five’s Paul Lopez sought to document the commuting experience from Belize City to Belmopan. Here is that report.


Paul Lopez, Reporting

The debate on the state of public transportation has been longstanding. The government and passengers want a more efficient and comfortable system. At the same time, the bus owners argue that it isn’t affordable to purchase and import newer buses with the runs they have been assigned. Things came to a head recently when a new service provider with more modern buses started offering their services; at around the same time, the Ministry of Transport began cracking down on service providers who were not up to standard and revoking licenses. So when the Minister of Transport, Rodwell Ferguson, was pressed on the decision to revoke privileges. He posed this question to the press:


Rodwell Ferguson

Rodwell Ferguson, Minister of Transport (File: February 3rd, 2023)

How much a unu ride bus fih go dah work? Hmm, nobody? So, is it comfortable, is it convenient for you?”


We accepted the challenge. With an assignment scheduled in Belmopan at the start of the business day this morning, instead of using the company’s vehicle, I took the bus from Belize City to the Capital City. I document the experience on my phone. I arrived at the Belize City Bus Terminal just before six a.m. The express bus was already parked outside and ready to make its first run for the day. I purchased an eight-dollar ticket and then stood in line. Both these processes were done in a timely and orderly fashion.

Upon entering, almost all the seats were occupied except for these. Before the bus even departed the terminal, there were more people than the bus could seat. We then left the Belize City Terminal at XXXam. This express bus made only one stop on its way out of the city to let on a commuter, much to the dissatisfaction of those already inside. And then the bus carried on to Belmopan at about five minutes pass six o’clock with five people, including me, standing in the aisles. During the entire hour and twenty-minute standing journey, the bus passed one police checkpoint. The officers waved the bus through despite the visible standees. These two commuters sought to rest their feet by sitting on the bus’s engine – a hazardous but at least seated experience.

Insufficient legroom has been a longstanding issue on these refurbished school buses.


Commuters sitting along the aisles were forced to extend their legs into the aisle, while some persons sitting in window seats had to sit in near crouching positions. And many of these commuters use the early morning ride to catch up on some extra sleep, at the risk of falling off the seats or receiving a concussion in the event of a mishap. One of the more damning revelations was the condition of the floor. This metal bus had a wooden floor which was in a seriously deteriorated state.


The bus pulled into the Belmopan Bus Terminal at seven twenty, where most passengers got off and headed to their respective destinations. And while this is only one perspective and experience, we spoke with a few daily commuters about their experience on public transport.



Roque, Daily Commuter

Well ih sometimes like you nuh guh satisfied, cause sometimes they go slow. Sometimes you full and all ah deh stuff. James got some nice bus to cause this morning I come eena one and ih got AC and all that. It was an express bus and it is very nice. And I would wish they have more buses like that.”


Voice of Ramirez, Daily Commuter

“I catch the bus daily, in the morning and evening.”


Paul Lopez

From where to where?

Voice of  Ramirez

“Thirty one miles. Well it is not bad, but it could improve a little like there is a lot of standees. People, like when you are exiting the bus you don’t have space to talk and Corona is still up so we have a greater chance of catching Corona on the bus?”


Paul Lopez

“Is there a bus line that you prefer catching?”


Voice of Ramirez

“Maybe BBOC or Westline, I think those two are the best out of all.”


Voice of Diane

Voice of Diane, Daily Commuter

Well to travel outdistrict, once a week. I ride the James Bus because that dah the best one, to me, because they comfortable and fast. When I seh fast I mean the bus reach dah Belmopan, when I ketch the three fifteen one that lef three fifteen and reach Belmopan four thirty.”


Paul Lopez

“How do you feel about the seating on the bus, especially like leg room?”


Voice of Diane

“It is ok with me. I don’t have a problem with it that is why I ride James. I use to ride Westline but that is always crowded. That always crowded, deh nuh lef the terminal with people the stand up, but when deh come out from yah yow ah sih how much people the rush fih ketch the bus or by junction, roundabout.”


Paul Lopez

“What do you think the busses can do to improve overall?”


Voice of Diane

Deh need to send more bus, because deh one yah full up ah school pickni and by the time yo reach Hattieville and Mile 20 the bus lef with about half the amount deh ker.”


Reporting for News Five, I am Paul Lopez.

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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