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#472350 - 09/12/13 11:06 AM City Hall: No More Buses On Albert Street!
Marty Online   happy
And while that’s what The Belize City Council is doing on the disaster preparedness front, on the public transport front, it’s making major moves. First off, City buses will no longer be able to access Albert Street: they won’t be able to drive on it, pick up passengers on it, or drop off passengers. We asked Councillor Arlifah Elrington Hyde about it:..

Jules Vasquez
"We've always known that there are multiple bus stops and unofficial bus stops between Albert and Regent Streets - you all are saying, that will end?"

Alifah Elrington Hyde - City Councilor - Transport
"Yes, that will end - I have made it clear to my traffic manager to put in writing that we are cracking down on enforcements with respect to all means of transportation. As it is now what we're doing, we're ensuring that buses no longer run down Albert St. - that's how we're starting."

Jules Vasquez
"That's effective when?"

Alifah Elrington Hyde
"I'm not sure if it's in effect yet but it should be in effect within the next week if it hasn't as yet."

Jules Vasquez
"No buses?"

Alifah Elrington Hyde
"No buses down Albert Street - so the buses won't be able to come up Orange Street anymore and go down Albert Street. The buses will have to go the long route to hit Regent Street."

Jules Vasquez
"And then how do you answer all those people that say that they have their shopping bags and they need to get on the bus in front of William Quan?"

Alifah Elrington Hyde
"Well, unfortunately they’ll have to walk a little more - that's all I can say. Yes, we want people to continue to support the businesses downtown but at the same time we need to change the vision of our city."

Next for the council are all those dollar vans. They are an essential part of the city’s transport system- and move hundreds of people daily, but they are largely unregulated. And so the Council intends to put them under manners:’

Alifah Elrington Hyde - City Councilor - Transport
"The 'dala van' is a difficult situation for us because, to be very honest, this might sound harsh but what I would like to do is just scrap the dollar van situation entirely. At the same time, I appreciate that people need to make a living, I appreciate that it is something that it is essential in the major constituents like Lake Independence and those areas. So what we're trying to do, we're trying to look at alternatives. One, we have to regulate the dollar taxis; they're absolutely no regulations with which the dollar taxis abide by because they're split in the middle of bus and taxis. We have to do some regulations in respect to that and we're looking at that right now. Secondly, we're looking at an alternate run for them to run."

The dollar vans will still be able to access Albert Street – and will be given notice of the new regulations once they are finalized.

And moving to that other bus matter, the city has hammered out an agreement with Belize Transit Services. You may recall that their buses were pulled off the road last week. Well, Elrington Hyde says they have come to an agreement:…

Alifah Elrington Hyde
"We've come to an agreement where we've given them an extension - I think it was also another bus operator who had one big bus also. It was ultimately decided that two of his biggest buses which were about 36 and 37 feet long were to be taken off the road completely and that was supposed to have been done by Wednesday at 5o'clock. So there should be no more big buses, no more 36 or 37 feet. Mr. Jones, in particular, had four or five other buses between 29 ft and 34 ft - we have given him until the end of January because he was a six month extension - we were not willing to give in to a 6 month extension but we have agreed that by the end of January, majority of his buses should have been reduced to the 27ft bus or less and if he had done that then we would give him the additional two months to get all buses in compliance to what we want on the streets. We appreciate that he had loans and different things with the bank and would need to go into refinance and we didn't want to seem mean so we decided to compromise. If it is that he is not within compliance by the end of January - with the majority of his buses then we would have to take radical steps with respect to that."

Channel 7


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#472416 - 09/13/13 11:00 AM Re: City Hall: No More Buses On Albert Street! [Re: Marty]
Marty Online   happy

Commuters Rail Against Citco’s New Bus Crackdown

Last night on the news, City Councilor with responsibility for transport Alifah Elrington Hyde laid down the new law on City Buses: they can no longer transit on Albert Street - which is the City's main street. Today, we went to the streets and on buses to gauge the public reaction to that.

But, first, for context we go back to the Councilor's remarks:

Jules Vasquez
"We've always known that there are multiple bus stops and unofficial bus stops between Albert and Regent Streets - you all are saying, that will end?"

Alifah Elrington Hyde - City Councilor - Transport
"Yes, that will end - I have made it clear to my traffic manager to put in writing that we are cracking down on enforcements with respect to all means of transportation. As it is now what we're doing, we're ensuring that buses no longer run down Albert St. - that's how we're starting."

Jules Vasquez
"That's effective when?"

Alifah Elrington Hyde
"I'm not sure if it's in effect yet but it should be in effect within the next week if it hasn't as yet."

Jules Vasquez
"No buses?"

Alifah Elrington Hyde
"No buses down Albert Street - so the buses won't be able to come up Orange Street anymore and go down Albert Street. The buses will have to go the long route to hit Regent Street."

Jules Vasquez
"And then how do you answer all those people that say that they have their shopping bags and they need to get on the bus in front of William Quan?"

Alifah Elrington Hyde
"Well, unfortunately they'll have to walk a little more - that's all I can say. Yes, we want people to continue to support the businesses downtown but at the same time we need to change the vision of our city."

So today, 7News hit the streets to find out how the commuters of the city viewed this decision. We caught up with a few who use public transportation daily, and there was resounding opposition.

Here's how our conversation with those residents went:

Commuter #1
"If they held up the kids at the corner of Regent Street West, we grown-ups have to be careful that they don't "jack" us too. What is wrong is Bradley and Alifah Elrington and them? Tell them to THINK!"

Geovanni Brackett, Reporter
"Mrs. Alifah says that it will be good for you all to walk a little distance."

Commuter #1
"Not good for me at all. I walk enough and faster that her too."

Bus driver
"There are a lot of people that will be affected especially the kids from Wesley and James Garbutt School and ACC because we usually bring kids and drop them off at the school. If they stop us from running from Albert Street, the kids will not reach us here for school."

"I feel bad because the kids have to walk and how about when it rains, what will happen? This morning when I went to Lake I Bus Stop, the traffic officer told me that I cannot stop there. It was raining and I went at the other bus stop and the kids was walking in the rain."

Commuter #2
"Personally it's not a good idea because yesterday when I went to town and I was waiting on the bus and they told me that I had to go all the way down in front of Mike's to catch the bus. I was really upset because, first of all it was drizzling and there was no bus stop there and that is an area where people are not around. Yes people will be more in fear of their lives because there will be more crimes for example robberies. I think it's a longer route. What if you have to reach to work a certain time? I think it would be a lot of traffic jam. It's just not going to work any at all."

Commuter #3
"The area that they put the bus stop is an isolated area. Anybody can come and "jack" people. Everybody knows that the crime rate in Belize City is high. Nobody nor the Government can control the crime. Things can happen unpredictable to people out there."

Commuter #4
"We have to come all the way here to come off the bus. I want to know what is the problem."

Geovanni Brackett, Reporter
"What do you think that the Council is saying that the busses cannot go up Albert Street now?"

Commuter #4
"I think that is wrong because sometimes people needs to come off at a certain spot."

Geovanni Brackett, Reporter
"This route will put more pressure on you?"

Commuter #5
"Lots of pressure it puts on me because I am a sick woman and I have to travel a little farther."

Geovanni Brackett, Reporter
"Miss, what you think about what Councilor Alifah Elrington say that you have to walk a little bit more?"

Commuter #5
"She doesn't have pain in her foot and she is not a sick woman. This is like full belly man telling hungry belly woman to bear patience."

Geovanni Brackett, Reporter
"Do you think it makes sense?"

Commuter #6
"It doesn't make any sense at all."

Geovanni Brackett, Reporter
"Now that busses cannot go down Albert Street and if you want to reach like Wesley College and you have to go a longer route. How do you feel about that?"

Commuter #6
"That is not good at all."

Commuter #7
"It's ridiculous. Do you know the Governor General rides this bus: Dame Minita Gordon? I met her on this bus every now and again when she comes down town. It's ridiculous to bring this stop in this neck of the woods."

Geovanni Brackett, Reporter
"The new changes next week are that busses will no longer be able to go down Albert Street."

Commuter #7
"Why?"

Commuter #8
"I don't have any problems with the change of busses buts it's the direction of where the busses has to run. What happen to people that cannot walk?"

Geovanni Brackett, Reporter
"Have you travelled abroad outside of Belize?"

Commuter #7
"Sir, I've lived abroad for many years. I've crisscross the Caribbean, Canada and the United Kingdom."

Geovanni Brackett, Reporter
"Have you seen anywhere that busses are not allowed to go down town?"

Commuter #7
"That's exactly what makes it ridiculous. Go to Mexico, one of the biggest cities in the world. Go to New York, go to London and the busses take you down town. That's the whole purpose of the busses; for poor people, to get them from the population centers to the business centers. The decision takes effect next week."

Channel 7


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#472677 - 09/17/13 11:35 AM Re: City Hall: No More Buses On Albert Street! [Re: Marty]
Marty Online   happy

New bus routes in the downtown Belize City unleash a firestorm of criticism by commuters

City buses can no longer run on Albert Street. That’s the law handed down from City Council, and to say that the decision has unleashed a fiery storm of criticism would be an understatement. Commuters to downtown, including students, from all parts of the city now get off on Regent Street West and walk to their destinations…and then do the reverse to get back home. Since last week city bus regulars have been up in arms, venting their displeasure at the Council’s plan. But criticism aside, the plan went into effect and today Regent Street West was the hub of all commuter activity. Mike Rudon followed up today and has the story.

Mike Rudon, Reporting

This is the spot on Regent Street West where city buses are now forced to pick up and drop off passengers. That’s because these buses can no longer travel on Albert Street since the Council wants to change the vision of the city – and that view, at least downtown, doesn’t include those big old city buses. COLA added its voice to the wave of criticism this morning.

Giovanni Brackett

Giovanni Brackett, President, COLA

“The new position of the council is that we have buses waiting at the Mike’s Club area…that’s where commuters would be catching the bus. If from Mike’s Club you want to come to like Wesley College or ACC I guess there would have to be a new route to take them down the canal side. I’m not sure what that new route is to be. In our view, this is an abrupt decision, one…and two, it is a decision that is inconvenient to commuters. Senior citizens shouldn’t be forced to carry their bags all the way from downtown to Mike’s Club. It’s not only inconvenient but it’s unsafe. We in the media know that there have been several crimes conducted in that area – robberies, murder, etc. that’s not where you want your thirteen year old little girl to be waiting for a bus in the evening.”

Brackett says they were forced to speak out because City Hall is not listening to the people.

Giovanni Brackett

“They keep talking about a master plan…but I question which master we are serving right now because the very people that elected the council are being disenfranchised by this decision. And so we at COLA saw it fit to put a position down on paper. We waited for today because we thought that the reaction from the public who vehemently opposed the idea through the media and talking on the talk shows and the vox pops that the various media houses did…I thought that would have been enough to let the council step back and revamp its position.”

Today we were out at Regent Street West for only a short time, but it was enough to register the discontent of some commuters, while others aren’t bothered by the change.

Violet Jones, Longtime Commuter

“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.”

Commuter

Violet Jones

“I just found out a while ago from one of the ladies on the bus because I was wondering why the bus didn’t stop over there and they told me that this is the new spot now.”

Reporter

“Will that be a big inconvenience for you? How far do you have to walk now?”

Commuter

“Not for me…it won’t be any inconvenience to me.”

Reporter

“So you have no problem with the new route?”

Commuter

“No…no. I don’t have any problem. But I guess some people will have.”

Violet Jones

“It’s not safe. You have a club over there where anybody goes there, all kind of people go there so you never know what will happen. And there are hardly any street lights out here.”

But there are those who think the idea will work if people give it a chance. COLA isn’t prepared to do that at this time, and Brackett says the Council’s plan is ludicrous.

Commuter

“I hear a lot of people grumbling about it, right. It’s inconvenient for some people. But however…parking in the city for me was very cumbersome in the sense that the buses stopped anywhere downtown and it was making the area unsafe…so we have to live with one or the other.”

Reporter

“So you think this can work?”

Commuter

“I think it can work. Like everything else it will take time and people will have to understand.”

Giovanni Brackett

“If you utilize this bus stop the way it’s supposed to be – not bus stay, but bus stop – then buses should be allowed to drop off and pick up at certain spots on Regent Street and Albert Street but not to stay…that is a completely different conversation. But to completely say that we don’t want buses down Albert Street anymore…that’s ludicrous.”

Ludicrous or not, COLA and disgruntled commuters will apparently just have to live with it, since the new bus arrangements appear to be in full effect. Mike Rudon for News Five.

One of the biggest concerns of those to whom we spoke today is safety. City buses run until nine in the night, and they say that the area is dangerous. We noticed today that there was no Police presence while we were there and no adequate lighting. Additionally, there is no designated shed or shelter for commuters waiting for the bus, which is bad news especially during this very wet season.

Channel 5


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#472859 - 09/19/13 11:46 AM Re: City Hall: No More Buses On Albert Street! [Re: Marty]
Marty Online   happy

Mayor Bradley says that buses will be allowed to go down Albert Street

vlcsnap-2013-09-18-09h39m31s188The public outcry has been tremendous on the Belize City Council’s new decision to ban city buses from going down town Albert Street – an announcement that was made by Councilor Alifah Elrington-Hyde. But Mayor Bradley explains that the media had it wrong. Mayor Bradley said that the council is looking at creating a wider loop of traffic  and the master plan calls for relocating some of the key assets which includes the bus stop that is in front of the supreme court. Mayor Bradley explains that the council has gathered evidence of multiple buses that have stopped in front of the Supreme Court and behind Belize Bank which have led to congestion of traffic. He explains that this is the pivotal reason why the council has moved the bus stop to Regent Street west

Darrell Bradley – Mayor of Belize City:

vlcsnap-2013-09-18-09h32m58s31Strategic recommendations were made to relocate some of the key assets in the area, including the bus stop.  The bus stop currently is located in front of  the Supreme Court building, and our analysis shows, and our analysis includes documents and pictures showing the congestion of that area, because the buses have been allowed to stop for extended periods of time at the bus stop in front of the Supreme Court building.  Essentially what we are going to do, as part of our Downtown Development Project, is that we are relocating that bus stop on Regent Street West, and we are building a bus facility.  Some of the concerns that I have heard, I think, are rightly placed and we are ensuring that the facility that we build will have a canopy to ensure that it sheltered in case of rain, it will have proper lighting to provide for security and we’re working with the police to actually station a security booth that’s going to be manned by a police officer in that area because I think that the issue of safety of persons who use that area is a very relevant and important concern; but the idea is that want to expand the loop.    The loop currently is Albert and Regent Streets, and that’s where the traffic circulates.   We want the loop to be Regent Street going out to Regent Street West and then on to East and to West Canal 

 Mayor Bradley admits that one of the council’s weakness is lack of consultation. Mr. Bradley also mentions that the council will have to step up its efforts to educate the public about the master plan. He told us that the decision to move the bus stop from Regent St. to Regent St. West was a council decision. The mayor was asked if the decision to ban city buses from traversing Albert St. was a unilateral one. He said that there was never any decision to ban buses from Albert Street.

Darrell Bradley – Mayor of Belize City:

There is no banning of buses in that area.  The buses could still drive around and go on Regent Street just as how they have done before.   The only thing that we are preventing is that we are saying that the bus stop will be relocated from in front of the Supreme Court and that will go to Regent Street West so that the bus still can go and drive on Regent Street, still can pick up people in front of BTB, still can pick up people in front of Wesley Upper School, still can pick up people in front of the Supreme Court, but you cannot stop there, the driver can’t exit the vehicle, the driver can’t leave the bus there for ten minutes, and then wait until the bus fills up.   It is only a regular stop on a run and the bus stop now is on Regent Street West; that’s all we’re doing.

While that interview was taking place, the media was also meeting with Councilor Alifa Elrington-Hyde, whose portfolio this matter falls under. We note that the Council did not hold a public consultation before executing their plan of re-routing traffic. But PlusNews conducted its own consultation of sorts. Journalists Geovanni Brackett and Aaron Humes hit the streets of Belize City last week, where residents had much to say about the recent changes. So on Tuesday, Councilor Alifa Elrington-Hyde was asked just why the bus operators and commuters were left out of the initial discussion.

Alifah Elrington-Hyde, -Councilor Responsible for Traffic:

vlcsnap-2013-09-18-10h40m55s96There 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.

PlusTV


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