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#517407 - 09/08/16 06:47 AM Bus prices hiked
Marty Offline

Bus prices up in time for independence celebrations!

New Bus Rates For Western Corridor

If you’re a regular commuter like I am – you’ll know that just the suggestion of a fare increase at the current level of sub par service, would be enough to make you faint! Well, hold on to your seats because that’s what the western bus line are promising. They say they only make 11 cents per mile while the other runs make 14 cents. The minister says he will be discuss it with them tomorrow.

Channel 7

Bus fares going up in West; operators to meet Minister

Beginning earlier this week, commuters on the four major bus lines operating in the western corridor – Westline, Guerra’s, B.B.O.C. and J and J – are paying about fifty cents more per run. The price of a trip to Belmopan is now seven dollars and to Benque Viejo is thirteen dollars. It was a joint decision taken by the bus owners due to their own hardships with the cost of running their bus operations. This evening, News Five has confirmed that operators will be meeting with Minister of State with responsibility for Transport, Edmond Castro, on Thursday in Belmopan to discuss the new prices and what the ministry can do to help operators ease their costs. When the operators previously asked for such concessions as duty-free fuel, they were rebuffed, but the hope is that the Ministry softens its line on this as both operators and consumers are feeling the pinch. As for commuters, there are some who are paying the increased fares out of respect for the operators and others who refuse, but our source explained that if there are some concessions made by the Transport Department then they will be willing to revisit the issue of prices.

Channel 5

#517415 - 09/08/16 03:46 PM Re: Bus prices hiked [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline
Ministry of Transport and Bus Operators Reach Agreement on Bus Fares

The Hon. Edmond Castro, Minister of State in the Ministry of Works, Transport and National Emergency Management, along with Chief Executive Officer, Ms. Ruth Meighan and Chief Transport Officer, Tirso Galvez, have just concluded a meeting in Belmopan with bus operators from the West regarding proposed adjustments in bus fares which had reportedly been arbitrarily implemented by some operators.

It has been agreed that all bus fares will revert to the rates that existed prior to such arbitrary increases. The Ministry of Transport and the bus operators have discussed and agreed in principle on proposed rate adjustments, which will be considered by the Belize Transport Board and must first be approved by Cabinet and authorized via a Statutory Instrument before they can be implemented.

It was also agreed that the proposed implementation date for any such adjustments would be October 1, 2016, and that such changes would be adequately publicized before their implementation.

#517421 - 09/09/16 06:06 AM Re: Bus prices hiked [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Bus Fare Hike Rejected By Ministry

Last night we told you about the proposed increase in bus fares for the Western corridor. But turns out it wasn't any official increase, West line and BBOC bus lines took it upon themselves to implement the hike in prices without informing the public or consulting with the Transport Department. It was a bold move by these bus operators to turn the government's attention to the struggles they face but it's also one that enraged the public. Several commuters reached out to us saying that for the past 2 days the express buses from Belize City to Belmopan has gone from $5 to $7 and they are simply not having it. And so to address all these issues the Minister of Transport Edmond Castro met with several bus companies today at his NEMO office in Belmopan. We start off with a comment from the owner of the Shaw's Bus Company, Thomas Shaw. He told us although he agrees with the increase, he does not support the way the other companies approached the issue. We also asked him if the bus companies were considering the commuters who would be paying more for a sub-par service.

Thomas Shaw - President, BZ Bus Association, Shaws
"The main purpose of this meeting is basically it was a hike in bus fares that actually took place about 2 days ago of which the department didn't really approve but it was something that was in the pipeline for quite a while and the operators felt well they should make a move."

Courtney Weatherburne
"So you guys have raised the prices already or only for the west corridor?"

Thomas Shaw - President, BZ Bus Association, Shaws
"Well it's just certain operators, it's just certain operators"

Courtney Weatherburne
"Such as?"

Thomas Shaw - President, BZ Bus Association, Shaws
"Certain operators such as the West line and the BBOC and they had posted signs and stuff inside the buses."

"I do support the raise because it's something that we need; it's been there for a long time."

Courtney Weatherburne
"I have to see it from the commuters' perspectives as well. Many commuters are upset, they are very upset and they will and I could say they have reason to be upset because of one the service and we were just talking; my colleagues and I were just talking about the list of things that are wrong with the bus service."

Thomas Shaw - President, BZ Bus Association, Shaws
"Based on what you mentioned a while ago I'm aware that the riding public they have all rights as well the bus operators because basically what we're looking at ... the operators, each operator that you see out there they operate but there is no incentive at the end of the day from GOB and the operators have been observing this for quite a while. As I said to just hike the fares like that without notifying the public for me I think it was wrong."

And after the meeting that ended after 1 this afternoon, we spoke to Minister Castro who also reiterated that it was a wrong move by these bus companies to just raise the bus fares without consultation. Castro explained that the first step to address this issue is to regulate or adjust the rates of payment per mile. He also agreed that the commuters deserve better service.

Hon. Edmond Castro - Minister of Transport
"It was illegal for them to put together new price list and change the prices on the commuters; we discussed that. We also discussed their proposal, the July 14th proposal of price hike and we came to a good agreement but basically on an average we are trying to keep some of the bus fare within the 12 to 14 cents per mile. Some of them were down and some were way out of wack; some were at 10, 9, some were at 20 odd cents per mile so we're trying to bring it to a situation whereby it's between 12 and 14 cents per mile."

"I spoke to the owner of West line and he shared with me before this meeting that last year his fuel price per month was in the range of 85 thousand dollars to run those buses. Last month - I think it was last month and he has seen or over the months he has seen an increase of about 15%. And so at the same fare it's impossible for them to continue the maintenance and to keep good buses on the highway. We have to try and see how we can balance the thing."

"We do believe that we need to uphold the standards, we need to make sure that the commuters who actually are paying their fair are riding a bus whe no wa broke down pan the road, a bus whe no di over heat and a bus whe comfortable. The standees situation and all the bus owners and bus owners know that most of them are breaking light as it relates to the standees on these buses so we are trying to address all those situations on that regard as well."

Courtney Weatherburne
"This has been happening for years, commuters have been calling for better service for many years and nothing has been done."

Hon. Edmond Castro - Minister of Transport
"It has not been a SI change since 1992 so I think what we are doing here we should be able to help and hopefully improve their services to the commuters who are actually paying them."

Minister Castro said he will be taking today's proposal to Cabinet on Tuesday. To reiterate this position a release was sent today stating "It has been agreed that all bus fares will revert to the rates that existed prior to such arbitrary increases. The Ministry of Transport and the bus operators have discussed and agreed in principle on proposed rate adjustments, which will be considered by the Belize Transport Board and must first be approved by Cabinet and authorized via a Statutory Instrument before they can be implemented." So for all you commuters, make sure you pay the regular bus fares, no increase has been approved. The new rates will be published on October first.

Channel 7

#517508 - 09/14/16 04:44 AM Re: Bus prices hiked [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Bus Fare Hikes Could Be Coming To Your Route

And while Castro was not willing to go into a conversation about the culture revealed in those audits, he was a lot more forthcoming when we asked him about his involvement in trying to regularize bus fares for the public transportation all around the country.

As viewers will remember, the Western bus owners hiked the price up for 2 days, and when he as the Minister of Transportation found out about it, he intervened to make sure that the price went back to what it was.

Today, he told us that he continues to meet with the bus owners, and that the public should expect that there will be an increase in fares in some parts of the country.

He said not to worry though, the Government will balance your interest along side that of the owners to make sure that they make a fair return, while you aren't price gouged:

Hon. Edmond Castro, Minister of Transport
"At two o'clock today I'll be meeting with the southern region and then also with the northern region to deal with the situation as it relates to increase of fares or the balancing of fares. And also we are impressing on the bus operators because commuters want them to do more in terms of the safety of their buses, the standees, the overcrowding of buses. So if the commuters will in some areas, not all areas, if they will be asked to pay more they are asking for a better service from the providers."

Isani Cayetano, CH5
"It would seem as though, for instance, James Bus Line is one of the better companies, in terms of the fleet of buses that it has running out of the south, is there any specific complaint about any of the other bus lines in terms of the quality of service or the conditions of their vehicles, if they are roadworthy, et cetera?"

Hon. Edmond Castro, Minister of Transport
"I think James Bus Line is one of the companies that maintains their buses and have a better standard, or the standard that other bus operators should look towards. Also, you have to understand that in some cases, even with James Bus Line, there are some leg on the journey that is way out of the twelve to fourteen percent balance that we are trying to strike. We have to try and see how we could balance it. We don't want to squeeze the bus operator to the brink that they cannot upkeep and maintain their buses because dat noh good fi none ah we. Noh di commuting public nor the bus operators, so we have to try strike wahn balance. But yes in some areas we might see a slight increase and in some areas there will be a decrease, because we are trying to stay within the 12 -14 cents per mile."

Daniel Ortiz, 7News
"Sir is there any sort of criminal sanctions or any sort of sanctions whatsoever that can be brought against these bus companies who hike the price without the government's permission?"

Hon. Edmond Castro, Minister of Transport
"They completely was out of order and we were able to discuss with them. They had no right to hike the bus fare. They are not the ones that set fares. So we ask them to back off of that and I believe they did. I haven't received any calls that they continue with that terrible increase that they had and also we had not had a change in the SI since 1992. Over the past year or so we try to balance it around the 10 cents per mile situation. But we have to try and see how we could balance the situation."

After that interview, he told us that he was heading directly to that meeting with the Southern and Northern Bus Owners.

Channel 7


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