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#446956 - 09/19/12 12:30 PM Bus Fares Are Going Up
Marty Offline
Commuters beware, bus fares are going up! But the bus owners say it is not a hike in fares; instead, they are calling it realignment.

Now, that sounds like politician talk to us - but it's best we let them explain. Their spokesman did, at a bus association meeting this morning in Belize City.

Here's what that spokesman, Patrick Menzies had to say:

Patrick Menzies - Spokesperson, Belizean Bus Association
"For Belizeans out there to know, effective September 22, the price to travel to Belmopan will be $5 regular, $6 express."

Thomas Shaw - Chairman, Belizean Bus Association
"The $5 that we'll be charging from Belmopan to Belize City, it's not an increase because as the Minister to some commuters, it's an increase, but it's not. It's something that has been long overdue, and I think that most of our operators - if you looked in there a while ago - everybody is on board. We're united; everbody came to the consensus that we have got to move away from this selfish behavior of one person charging a dollar, and a next two dollars, cutting each other's throats. They all realize that we're losing money, so everybody is on board. Everybody agreed to go back to fares that were originally set, the 37 pointers that you're speakign about, you're perfectly in order, but for us to really achieve these goals, we cannot afford to be operating at a loss."



Patrick Menzies
"You can't expect for the operators to keep on operating at the same price when their cost is outside. It's outside the ball park. The reality is the messed up buses - folks, let us look at this. Who tore the seats on the bus? It's not the operators; it's the commuters, so let's not talk about that. They need to be fixed yes, but parents, don't let your kids tear the bus seats; let's be real. So we're looking at that. We're asking the community - you don't need the best; you deserve the best. So let's get the best. As far as the tires on the buses and all those other things, you're right, but 1 tire is $800. So, how do we get $800? Well we did the calculation, and right now, to be able to make a profit, the bus owners should be charging 22 cents a mile - and they're charging 8 cents, or close to 10. So, what we're saying is that okay, let's make an agreement here. Since we've requested audience with the ministry and gotten none, and since the minister speaks to us through the media and not in person, that's the way we're responding. 1, we're glad you're here; 2, we respect what you're doingp; 3, Belize needs what you're doing; but 4, let's be realistic. The bus operators will be doing a price re-alignment, meaning that across the country, their different rates, wherever you go, they aren't realistic. It will be a price re-alignment. You will see different prices starting to change. We will be notifying Belizeans; it will be on the media. It will be on the buses, not the day after it goes up. That's not right; they should be notified before, and we will do that. We're saying that operators will not pay - will not pay - for the permits they just received at the rate they're being charged. They're being charged for last year and this year - and by the way, the permit expires on June of next year. They promised in the media - even yesterday - the minister said that they can go pay for their four-year permit; they're only giving them a 2-year permit, which started a year and a half a go. It makes no sense; so the operators are saying, 'We're not paying; thanks Minister'. We're saying work with us, and we want representation on the Board for September 27. We don't just want; we will be there."

Reporter
"How will you get on the board? Do you expect the minister to just welcome you show up at the board?"

Patrick Menzies
"Well actually, the problem is someone said that we should be more diplomatic; we were. We requested; we sent letters out. The only response we got was from the media. We got a couple of responses from Ms. Bailey, but none of them said that they are welcoming us to come unto the board. A meeting was scheduled, but that's about it, and not to be on the board. We're not saying that we want; we're saying that we will be on the board on that day.We must be on the board; that's what we're saying. And of course, that's a challenge."

Reporter
"This sounds like there is going to be a showdown between you all and the Government."

Patrick Menzies
"We're requesting that there not be, but if that's what they're asking for, then they may just get it."

We await a response from the Ministry of Transport...

Channel 7


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#447022 - 09/20/12 12:35 PM Re: Bus Fares Are Going Up [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Bus fare increases for the ride from Belize City and Belmopan


Patrick Menzies

Twenty four hours ago the Minister of State with responsibility for Public Transportation Edmund Castro announced that there is no authorized increase in bus fares. But tonight, the news is that commuters will be paying more for a ride between Belize City and Belmopan. That is because the Belizean Bus Association, at a meeting today agreed that starting on Saturday a new fee structure goes into effect across the country. At their mi-morning meeting, the Association resolved that in order to remain competitive, bus operators need lower fuel rates, duty free & Tax Exemption of Parts and Equipment and a one hundred and twenty day notification for the termination or replacement of a Road Service Permit. Those were the minor issues; but for commuters the major thing coming out of this morningís meeting is that they will be asked to pay more for public transportation. Now technically itís a price increase; but the bus operators are calling it a price realignment. According to advisor and spokesperson for the Belizean Bus Association Patrick Menzies, the realignment is a reflection of the hard economic times in which the public transportation industry is operating.

In an interview on Monday, Minister Castro said that the bus operators cannot realistically expect commuters to pay a new fare without first improving their service. The operatorsí response is that they can improve the service; but there are conditions attached.


Edmund Castro, Ministry of states, Transportation

The Belizean Bus Association says it also wants representation on the Transport Board and equity in the price for road service permits.

Todayís meeting of the Belizean Bus Association was held at the Belize Institute of Management training room in Belize City.



LOVETV


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#447095 - 09/21/12 12:58 PM Re: Bus Fares Are Going Up [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

BBA And Transport Ministry Reach Compromise

The Belize Bus Association will implement new bus fares on Saturday - principally for western runs between Belize City and Belmopan. Those will go up for four dollars regular and five dollars express, to five regular and six, express.

It's a 20% increase - but the bus owners - Westline included say it is needed for an industry that is being crushed by the rising cost of fuel and supplies.

Fact is, those rates were first approved in 2002 - but that spurred violent unrest across the west - and the public enemy at the time was the Novelo's.

Well now it is being introduced by the Bus Association - and their spokesperson Patrick Menzies today told the media that they have the support of the Ministry - who they support right back.

The only person missing from that picture is the commuter who will have to pay more.

And today Menzies explained how they'll handle that:..

Patrick Menzies, BBA
"I had a great meeting, it was very positive. It was 3 hours actually and the outcome was positive. One; we want to thank the ministry because they are planning on working with us with some of the things that we are requesting - some of the things the minister was mentioning he said he will be lobbying Cabinet for, like we've been asking for duty free fuel if possible just as the cane farmers have; looking at helping with the importation of parts and tires and stuff like that and exemptions of those things. The minister also explains that he expects the bus to abide by the 37 points conditions - we agree 100%. He also agrees that it is not illegal to raise the fares or to adjust the fares. Reality is that we are just adjusting the fares to what it was back in 2002."

"Many Belizeans have been saying that how can we go up in prices right now because it's a hard time right now for Belizeans and we agree. It's tough for some people to even get an extra fifty cents raise or adjustment in the travel and we understand that. So please help us lobby government on your behalf because everybody needs help."

Jules Vasquez
"You all the bus operators are the ones who willfully choose to have the Belmopan run for $4 per route. You all choose that and now because your company is hemorrhaging because of that competition and now you all want to reform a cartel, we are to blame now? - The passengers are to blame? I don't think so Mr. Menzies."

Patrick Menzies, BBA
"I like your question, it's very interesting. You are now saying who is to blame. It's not a blame game. The reality is if you are saying that back then the price was what it was then that's what it was. If any business realizes that the competition that they are having is killing them that business would re-adjust and that's all we are doing. You are correct."

"The only problem area is actually the western route."

Jules Vasquez
"Which is a problem you all created."

Patrick Menzies, BBA
"Let's clarify that - which was a problem created by the previous owners that were running. You got to realize that not everybody that's there was there then."

Jules Vasquez
"You all are the problem Mr. Menzies."

Patrick Menzies, BBA
"You mentioned very clearly - we are talking about the reality of economics. If you start to compete and you realize it's hurting you - you re-adjust."

Jules Vasquez
"Or you close down or you drive bus with 4 onion skin tires."

Patrick Menzies, BBA
"Yes sir that's what they do, drive bus with onion skin. By the way we are requesting to all operators no standees starting Monday - none. Now Belizeans be ready - no standees starting Monday. No complaints folks, when you complain there is a number that is available for the ministry and there is a text number. Please text the ministry and call them."

"We want to implement by this Saturday - it's not a ticketing; for right now it's a boarding pass, so people will be rushing out the gates like animals. I've done it, it's crazy, it makes no sense, none of us like it and we are asking the ministry to please help us to stop that because the driver and the conductor don't have any control over who rushes through the gates. That's control by the ministry. We are saying - we know you guys are working with us, we thank you for it, please lets work with us on that too. The Belizeans are requesting - they are saying we are not animals and we are saying we agree let's start with the bus passes this Saturday."

"This minister makes things happen. I love folks that make things happen. We got to make it happen in the right way and he is trying to do that, so we don't agree with everything but we are getting there. We are working together. We thank him and he asks the bus owners to make sure the busses are prepared so that he can make that happen. We really appreciate that the minister is making things happen. That's the kind of folks we want in our country."

And with all that que viva Castro talk -w e imaging the BBA will not - after all - crash the transport board meeting next week. But, they say they are still lobbying Castro to give them a seta on the board.

For right now - the fare to Belmopan is going to ten cents a mile - which is what presently exists in the north - but the BBA eventually wants to get that up to 15 cents a mile - which is what southern bus operators get.

Channel 7


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