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#471725 - 09/03/13 05:59 AM CITCO Takes Big Busses Off Streets
Marty Online   happy
This morning, the Belize City Traffic Department impounded 6 city buses and stopped them from running their routes today. There was nothing wrong with these buses and their drivers other than the buses have been assessed by City hall as being too big for the streets in downtown Belize City. And so today, the drivers were pulled off their runs and stopped from operating.

They were upset with the decision, and today they told us that they don’t agree with the decision, especially because they’ve made investments to prepare for the opening of the new school year – which started today.

Here’s how they explained it:

Dexter Hemmans -Bus Driver
"This morning they came and told us that our bus won't be able to run again, they didn't give us any notice in writing, they are just saying that they will take off the big bus off the run. I went upstairs and I sat down with Mr. Jenkins and he told me that my bus can't run anymore, and I told him, 'boss, I got a loan so that I can get my bus', we run under a company name, and I need to pay my loan everyday so I can get out of debt and I can sustain myself and my family. It's quite unfair what those people are doing, we as Belizeans have a right to earn an honest living. I am in this business for about ten years now, and we have other senior men that are here about 19 years, 15 years. I think it is quite unfair what is happening. The Haitians say they will stop the dollar van, they are still running, they have no license plate."

Albert Adolphus - Bus Driver
"This morning I was on my run, and the lady came to tell me that Mr. Jenkins wants to see me at the office and I wanted to know for what reason. We parked the bus and didn't know what was happening, why they want the bus parked. I think the bus is a good size bus. The dollar van doesn't stop for the kids, but with the big bus, the kids look out for the big bus. Sometimes kids doesn't even have money, they say 'I will pay you tomorrow'. Some of them come back to pay, some of them don't. I went to the Credit Union and borrowed to sustain my bus, to fix it, at least to have it ready for when school opens, and everyday I need to go pay my loan, but now with the bus parked, I won't be able to pay my loan. Everyday you don't pay your loan, the interest goes up."

Adolpho Ara, Bus Driver
"Normally when they do something like you should get it in black and white, right? And we as drivers, we invested in this company. We have loans, some of these drivers have loans, they have their families to take care of and we would like to see what will be the outcome of this, for example, we have that Fabers Road run; they need that big bus."

And if you think it’s uncalled for, Belize City Mayor Darrell Bradley says that it was the absolute last measure they were forced to take. He told us today that since 2009, they’ve been in consultation with all the city bus owners, and every single one of them have complied except 1 company. According to Bradley, it was a policy before his tenure which was to improve traffic management on those small city streets:

Darrell Bradley, Mayor, Belize City
"It's part of the City Councils' ongoing efforts to enforce traffic regulations. Now let me give you a little bit of context. The city council has been these bus operators to reduce the sizes of buses that go through Belize City and this is as a result of our small streets. We noticed particularly difficult struggles with these buses when they try to make curves in the Albert and Regent Street areas. So from 2009 the City Council has required bus operators to reduce the size of their buses from the larger buses to 30 seater buses, maximum capacity 30-seaters. We have letters that we have sent to them, we have met with them repeatedly, including meetings with our traffic manager, Kevan Jenkins and also meetings with our counselor Alifa Elrington-Hyde. We have tried to get them to comply and majority of the bus operators, and this is why residents of Belize City will notice that there's a lot of smaller, more accommodating buses that traverse the streets of Belize City. This is a result of our policy. Few of the buses and bus companies have not complied and those are the ones who have been caught by the policy, so that this is something that we have been doing from 2009. When we took office in 2012, we made it clear to them that we will give them a grace period."

Bradley told us that the council has numerous letters on file in which they gave several extensions for their compliance.

Channel 7

#471732 - 09/03/13 06:21 AM Re: CITCO Takes Big Busses Off Streets [Re: Marty]
Marty Online   happy

Belize City traffic woes

Today was the beginning of classes for primary schools across the country. But here in Belize City, a number of students and commuters from various areas were without transportation because several commuter buses were impounded at the Traffic Department on Youth for the Future Drive. The drivers of the buses were up in arms claiming they are losing their only means of income. Albert Adolphus says that they were told that their buses can only go as far as Pound Yard Bridge; some five blocks away from downtown Albert Street. He says that it makes it is impossible for him to operate effectively. But according to Councilor Responsible for Traffic, Alifa Elrington-Hyde, since taking on the portfolio, several meetings have been held with the bus companies to discuss the implementation of the traffic policy which should have come into effect in January, but delayed until now. Elrington-Hyde says that all companies have conformed to the policy, except for the five buses impounded today.

Albert Adolphus, Bus Driver, Belize Intransit Services Limited

Albert Adolphus

“One of the officers tell me Mister Jenkins wah see me dah di base. So I stop and I come park the bus. When I see, my co-workers dehn come too and each one ah them have wah traffic officer in there as well. So dehn di try say that dehn noh want the big bus dehn go ina town no more. But we got some small bus. We got big ones yeah, but then dehn say dehn noh want di bus dehn go ina town. But which in the big bus dehn alright fi go ina town beucase we got a lot of kids; school open today. I was on my second run, third run and I had to come park. Imagine how much kids deh back there di wait fi bus…dehn done know Albert di come.  Dehn di try fi say now dehn noh want di big bus go as far as Pound Yard Bridge. So to me that wah be wah chaos because you bring all yo customers to Pound Yard Bridge and they are supposed to walk all the way to town? Cause dehn noh want no bus outta town. What happen to the lee small ones weh di go all the way to Holy Redeemer, weh gwen way dah Wesley; dehn college students weh gwen way up yonder.   The driver, we want know weh di go on because like how dehn park we, we want to know how we will pay our loan because we gone and get money to get dehn bus ya—buy parts and whatnot—like me. Today now I can’t pay my loan and when you noh pay yoru loan, your interest gwen up. Like this morning, we put in we diesel ina wi bus. We want know how we wah pay fi wi diesel when the end of the day done. I put in twenty-two gallons this morning; that dah two hundred and thirty-two dollars that and my bus park now.”

Alifa Elrington-Hyde

Alifa Elrington-Hyde, Councilor Responsible for Traffic

“This should not have been a surprise to any of the bus owners. We indicated to them last week that by Monday, if they had not downsized their buses, we would be taking the big buses off the road. From before I got into council and before I became the councilor with the responsibility for traffic, the council has had back and forth with the bus owners to downsize their buses.   As the city develops, because we are developing the city, we are trying to make it a more modern city; we also have to look at the transportation situation. If you would drive around the city, you would notice that a lot of our main streets that are being worked on cannot be used and you have to use the smaller streets. And I personally have seen the big buses having great difficultly going down the smaller streets. So we’ve tried to indicate to them since last year. Since I’ve been here, I’ve had at least four meetings with the bus operators, downsize your buses, color code your buses; make sure you have everything that you need inside your bus; make sure your buses are working properly.  We are supposed to be issuing road service permits. They haven’t gotten road service permits because they have not been in conformity with the policies that we’ve put in place.”

The buses were to be returned to the drivers at six p.m. today. And if the buses resume operation on the city streets on Tuesday, they will be seized by Traffic Officers until they comply with the regulations.

Channel 5

#471808 - 09/04/13 05:41 AM Re: CITCO Takes Big Busses Off Streets [Re: Marty]
Marty Online   happy

Big Busses Will Be Back, But Maybe Only Briefly

Last night we showed you the angry city bus drivers complaining after their busses had been pulled off the city streets. They say they provide an essential service – which was particularly missed on the first day of school. The mayor on the other hand says that Belize Transit Services which runs the busses had been warned since 2009 to use smaller busses.

But today, members of the public started calling in to the talk shows saying how they needed the big busses, especially on Faber’s Road.

That set the stage for a meeting this morning with the bus operator and the city’s traffic manager. Phillip Jones of Belize Transit Services told us how it went and what he hopes will come out of it:…

Phillip Jones - General Manager, Belize Transit Services Ltd.
"Well I had the meeting this morning with the traffic manager and the councilor for traffic and basically what I did was try to have an extension for the ceasure of the busses in the city. I showed them the need for the bus at the moment, I stressed that I'm willing to work with the council and we know the city is growing and there will be times that we need to downsize but I just asked for a little grace period or an extension for a compromise to have the city flowing and for the workers to have something to do and for the commuters to not be affected at the same time. I personally believe that the meeting went very well, both the councilor and the traffic manager were very professional, they listened to my concern and they had assured me that they would discuss it further and I assumed it was with the other councilors and they would get back to me. As of now, I have not received any calls as yet or anything official, stating that I will be granted an extension or anything as such but I am positive - I think the council have professional people there and we need to have these services provided to the commuters and mainly the poorer class of commuters who are daily in need of the service and we are not shying away knowing that the city has to go and we don't want to keep back progress in the city but at the same time, I am just asking the council and councilors to just give me the extension. I am optimistic that they will do so, I humbly believe that way - I am hoping that I get something in writing before the end of the day or that they will call and re-instate our runs and provide the service and that we have been granted some sort of extension."

Monica Bodden
"What can commuters expect tomorrow? Will they get the big busses?"

Phillip Jones
"So far, we were allowed to run until 8;30am which is to mainly deal with workers and students - this afternoon I received a call that I could have continued to run but however, it has not been confirmed or finalized that I've been granted the extension to provide normal service until such a time - but until now nothing has finalized as yet or to say that there will be an extension granted that I had requested this morning in the meeting."

Jones stressed that nothing has been confirmed so far, and he awaits the outcome of further meetings.

Channel 7

#472033 - 09/07/13 06:21 AM Re: CITCO Takes Big Busses Off Streets [Re: Marty]
Marty Online   happy

Amandala has been told that after a second meeting held today, Thursday, September 5, Philip Jones, CEO of Belize Transit Services, has gotten a 4-month extension from the Belize City Council to continue using the big buses under the condition that the bus operators make arrangements to comply with the regulations put in place by the Council.

Jones said that they were also offered an additional 2-month grace period if they are not able to meet the bus size requirements at the end of the four months. The meeting today is subsequent to another meeting that was held on Tuesday at City Hall.

Earlier this week in our Tuesday issue, Amandala reported that several large buses were impounded by the Belize City Council because their size was not in compliance with CITCO’s policies in regards to the city transport guidelines. The bus drivers were upset because they were not able to conduct their regular runs on an exceptionally busy first day of school in Belize City.

For their part, the City Council said that Belize Transit Services, which is in charge of the buses, had been forewarned from as far back as 2009 that the size of the buses had to be reduced.

This caused a flurry of phone calls to the local talk shows by members of the public who were affected by the change and said that the bigger buses are needed, especially for the Fabers Road route.

The public outcry was followed by a meeting on Tuesday morning, involving the City Councilor with responsibility for traffic, Alifa Elrington-Hyde; Traffic Manager, Kevaughn Jenkins; and CEO of Belize Transit Services, Philip Jones. They met to work out a proposal on the way forward for the bus operators.

After the meeting, Jones told KREM TV News that he believed that the Councilor and the Traffic Manager were very professional in that they listened to his concerns, and so he was very optimistic that they would allow the bus operators an extension.

He said that the objective of the meeting was to both receive an extension for the big buses to continue their usual runs, and also to negotiate the sizes of the buses that will be needed to effectively manage the timely transportation of the commuters who use the bus services.

Jones mentioned that the meeting went very well because he was able to stress his concerns to the Councilor and the Traffic Manager, and secondly, because they also established a partnership to reach an amicable solution.

According to Jones, up to Tuesday, they had only been allowed to run until 8:30 a.m. to facilitate students and workers. He said that at that time, it was not yet confirmed or finalized if they had been given the extension that they were seeking. He indicated that he was awaiting the outcome of further meetings to find that out.

CEO Jones conceded that Belize City is growing, and therefore he is more than willing to comply with the regulations and changes required for growth. He stated that the bus operators don’t intend to be a detriment to progress in the city, but at the same time, he was basically asking the council and councilors to grant the bus drivers some sort of an extension so that they (the bus operators) can provide normal service until a later date.



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