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#517407 - 09/08/16 11:47 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


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#517415 - 09/08/16 08:46 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.

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#517421 - 09/09/16 11:06 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


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#517508 - 09/14/16 09:44 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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#519068 - 11/17/16 05:24 AM Re: Bus prices hiked [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Video: DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORT - IMPENDING BUS FARE INCREASE NOTICE

on Open Your Eyes


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#519088 - 11/18/16 05:56 AM Re: Bus prices hiked [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Are New Bus Fares Fair?

In early September, we told you about the proposed increase in bus fares. Minister of Transport Edmond Castro had been meeting with several bus companies to try and come up with a new cost structure, but from what we understood, they were still in the consultation stage. Well, that period is over and the increase has been in effect since October 29th. Now for those commuters who are scratching your heads because you haven't been paying any extra, it seems not all bus companies have started implementing this price hike - not yet, but it is official and the Transport Department has authorized it. A representative from the department told us that this raise was needed to pay for high price fuels especially for those runs down south. The new cost structure is set between 12 cents and 14 cents per mile within 100 miles - that is how the new fares are calculated. So, for instance express from Belmopan to Belize is now $7.00 dollars and regular is $6.00 dollars - both up from five dollars. Now how will the commuters benefit from this increase...Shouldn't commuters demand better service as well? The Transport Representative told us that they will be moving towards a ticketing system, and will try to eliminate the standees situation. We won't hold our breath...

Channel 7


Transport Officers Discusses Bus Fare

Bus commuters have been hit with the bad news that bus rates will be going up. The Ministry of Transport made changes to the bus fares about two weeks ago, without holding any public consultation. This has led to some frustration in the transport sector, at least here in the north, as there are some bus owners that are already charging the new rates while others aren’t yet.

So what are those rates? Well, from Belize City to Orange Walk commuters will now pay $6.50 on a regular bus instead of $4.00. Express buses will charge $7.00 instead of the previous $5.00.

From Belize City to Corozal, the new fare is $10.00 on regular bus, and $11.00 on express bus.

The first 12 miles of any trip will cost $2. From there, the fares go up at a rate of 12 to 14 cents per mile for buses travelling in the north.

Since imposing the new rates, Transport Officials have been mum despite the public concerns raised. Today however, they started a public campaign appearing on various morning talks shows. Here is an interview on Open Your Eyes with officials explaining how they come up with the fares.

Tirso Galvez - Chief Transport Officer

“We know that people are concerned especially the commuters are concerned with the present; people are saying increase but basically it is a restructuring of the bus fares throughout the entire country of Belize in respect to the Public Transportation throughout the country we had different consultation with the different bus operators by zones; so we had the Western Operators, the Southern Operators and the Northern Operators, when we met with the Western Operators they brought up, because during our consultations we were telling them some of the things we would have been enforcing and basically the operators helped and they requested that one of the issue that they are having for them to provide a better service was to basically that that they believe that the fares was overdue from the time they were charging the fares that existed and so we asked to submit something to us and which they did and we presented to the Transport Board basically and me as the Chief Transport Officer is the Secretary to the Board and it was presented to the Board and they said well hear what we cannot look just at the Western Zone by itself this has to be done holistically and so with that the Minister was brought into the picture and we spoke to the minister that this is what the bus operators were requesting and so the minister called to meet with them again. He looked for example at the Southern part of the country which is considered based on the poverty situation looking down at that area for example where people used to pay for example let’s put it from Dangriga to Kendall as an example which used to be $5.00 now with the new regulated price it is $3.00 so that has gone down $2.00 and basically all those routes in the South has been reduced before they were up to like .25 cents per mile even .29 cents per mile, for example we had an issue from Dangriga to Mango Creek, to Independence which was $9.00 per mile no it is down to $8.00 per mile so it is not really an increase, there is a lot of reduction especially in the South, what was done is basically and what people might seem to have an increase was basically the short stops between the first twelve miles, anything between those twelve miles will be two dollars and it used to be like $1.50 or somewhere along that line but now any distance between that twelve mile is $2.00 so if you are going three miles that will be two dollars.” There are concerns that while the Ministry has given the bus owners what they have been clamouring for with the new bus rates, the calls from the public for improved public transportation services are being overlooked. Licensing and Registration Officer in the Ministry of Transport, Vallan Hyde, said they have made it clear to bus owners that the standard must improve.

Vallan Hyde, Licensing and Registration Officer

“It was clearly outlined to the bus owners you getting something here and in most cases three is an increase but that comes with certain conditions that we must implement certain things that we get the buses in better conditions to get more adequate size buses and to get the number of buses that we need because we all aware to see the problems with the buses the fact is that most operators like I said are small business people and they come with some old school buses all paint up the look nice but they are not nice and when it rains, we are aware of it.”

Tirso Galvez, Chief Transport Officer

“We had also discussed some government to assist them with duty exemption and we were going to put forward a Cabinet paper basically because we want to phase put those buses basically we are saying that those Blue Bird buses should not be used for public transportation however they are saying we want to get new buses but the duties are very high, now how many of those operators have come together since they have some Co-ops. for example BBOC but they are not working as a Cooperative they are working single handed and thing but if they come together and come to government because through Beltrade where you could ask for assistance, it is just like with the tourism industry where they buy brand new vehicle and they get duty exemptions so that is the same thing we are saying but there will come a time that these buses will have to be phased out and these operators know that.”

The Ministry says it has a Hotline number on which commuters can report issues and address concerns. That number is 630-1070. Officials say all students should pay half price, but they must be wearing their uniforms or present a valid school I.D. The last bus fare adjustment was in 2009.

CTV3


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#519215 - 11/23/16 06:01 AM Re: Bus prices hiked [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Westline On Why Those New Fares Are Fair

Last week, we told you about the decision which the Ministry of Transport took to increase bus fares for some bus runs around the country.

The decision was taken because fuel prices have almost tripled over the past 25 years, which is the last time that the fares were adjusted. Each price is adjusted to allow bus operators to make between 12 cents and 14 cents per mile within 100 miles. For a bus route like Belize to Belmopan, the price has increased by 1 dollar for both in the regular and express runs. One of the companies which will directly benefit from this is Westline Bus, which is owned by businessman Sergio Chuc.

Today, he told us that the increase will allow him to make better profit margins, with which he is publicly promising to improve the fleet of his buses:

Sergio Chuc, Owner - Westline Bus Service
"With the old bus fares it was rough, because as you know the price of fuel has gone up tremendously over the last two and a half decades since the prices were adjusted. So, basically it was hand to mouth and you could see the type of equipment that was out there. It's difficult to get better equipment if there wasn't an adjustment in fares. Now that the price has been adjusted, I certainly as the owner of Westline will see that my fleet gets improve, so that we could give a better service to the commuters. I must say that when I got into this business, the fuel was at $11 per gallon, it has gone down a little bit. It is $9. But when these fares that was put in place back in 1991, I got into the fuel business as a fuel station dealer in 1999 and back then we were paying $2.57 per gallon for Diesel and I showed those documentations to the chief transport officer, to the minister, to the CEO so that they understood that there must have been an adjustment in fares for the industry to continue and for one, Westline pledges that we will improve on our fleets, because that is what the commuter are clamoring for. They are saying yes, they don't mind paying the extra $1 that has been increased, buts they need a better ride."

So, what about this ticketing system which will stop drivers and conductors from overloading buses with standees? As we told you, the bus operators have committed to activating it, but if there is not strict enforcement of the no-standees policy by the traffic department, the bad service will just continue. We asked Chuc about that:

Daniel Ortiz, 7News
"Its always crowded, you have to stand up. How do you all proposed to fix something like that when there is an overload in one specific bus run and some commuters are forced to stand in the hallways which If I am not mistaken is against the traffic rules?"

Sergio Chuc, Owner - Westline Bus Service
"We made a commitment with the ministry that if the prices were adjusted that we would work quickly to put in a ticketing system. I believe that with the ticketing system, we won't have that issue with the overcrowding anymore."

Daniel Ortiz, 7News
"And so what happens to those persons who would have been forced to stand on the bus and this ticketing system put into place where they can't board that bus. How will their transport needs be met?"

Sergio Chuc, Owner - Westline Bus Service
"That's easy, because we always have the standby buses that if this bus is full, then the other one takes up the load. That's no problem to address."

Daniel Ortiz, 7News
"You made this public commitment to improve your fleet of your Westline buses, who's to say that some sort of financial difficulties you fall into, forces you even with this increase you can't make the adjustments you need to invest and that you go back on your word."

Sergio Chuc, Owner - Westline Bus Service
"The commuters are there to decide that, because if we are not providing the service - remember every day when Westline takes off at 5am, at 5:15am there is a James. We move at 6am, at 6:15 there is a James. We move at 7am, there is a James at 7:15, so the competition is basically there for this route. So the commuters will keep us in check."

Police launched a ticketing operation this morning at the Palotti High School roundabout to try to discourage bus drivers and conductors from overloading buses.

Channel 7


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#519233 - 11/24/16 06:19 AM Re: Bus prices hiked [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Castro Says Northern Bus Lines Have Answering To Do

Last night, you saw our interview with bus operator, Sergio Chuc, who owns Westline Bus Service. His western commuters will now have to get used to an increase in bus fares. It was authorized by the statutory instrument signed into law by the Minister of Transport, Edmond Castro.

All over the country, the fares have been adjusted, and in some areas, there have been increases, while in other areas, the fares have decreased. Today, when we caught Castro at another event, and asked about this adjustment which now allows bus operators to charge between 12 and 14 cents per mile, up from the 2010 fares, which were 7 or 8 cents per mile.

He says that the bus operators countrywide have asked for the increase with the commitment to improve public transportation, and it is something which the Ministry intends to hold them to:

Hon. Edmond Castro - Minister of NEMO & Transport
"I cannot give you each and every one, there are thousands of bus runs but when you look at the south within the first 100 miles between 12 and 14 cents a mile; preferably we try to keep it at the 12 cents a mile. In some areas where it was 16 and 17 cents a mile we readjust it down to 14 cents a mile. You have areas like for example and the bus owners came up with this, they were part of consulted and they were saying that if they could get readjustment of fares then they will be able to improve the quality of service, better buses and so on. So the next set of conversation will be around the age of the buses. We will not allow bus 1959 and 60 and 70 buses on our highway. We are trying to come up to a standard of maybe perhaps not older than 10 years running on our highway which I believe will improve the better quality buses on our highway, improve the quality of services for our commuters and I think that will be very good for the commuting public."

Daniel Ortiz
"Every time you hear we will crack down on standees, it never really happens."

Hon. Edmond Castro - Minister of NEMO & Transport
"But you see when I took over the department we mi short of a lot of things. The enforcement aspect in terms of trying to be out there; you cannot have enough police to police the city. You cannot have enough enforcement officers to police all the bus companies and all but we are trying our best, this government purchased I think an additional 4 vehicles. We are trying to place them in areas we had none, we are trying to make sure that our enforcement aspect, we as enforcement officers live up to our end of the bargain so that those bus companies who now have a realignment, readjustment of their fares cannot continue to run the same old shabby service and expect that people won't get upset."

But there are a number of runs which for which the fares have fallen significantly. Castro outlined a few of them today.

Hon. Edmond Castro - Minister of NEMO & Transport
"However even in the south there were areas where it was as high as 28 cents if I can recall, a mile some areas. Some areas were within the 12 or 13 cents so those areas with the 28 cents a mile came down. Case in point the distance between Mango Creek and Dangriga were either between 9 and 11 dollars for 40 odd miles. When those bus companies know that they cannot charge nobody for 50 miles from Belmopan to Belize City 9 or 11 dollars; that came down significantly. So within the first 15 miles according to the SI I think it's about 2 dollars outside of the 15 miles radius then the price goes up some more. So when you look at people commuting to Hattieville were paying like 3 dollars; they paying 2 dollars. So when you look at Ladyville they were charging 2.50 and sometimes they want charge you 3 dollars. Up to Ladyville is within that 15 miles radius so its 2 dollars. So it's not in every area whereby the price went up."

But, the north is hurting the most from the bus fare hikes. Commuters there now suddenly find themselves being asked to pay double what their bus fares were just last week. When we brought it up with Castro, he told us that those northern travellers need to question their bus service providers, because they should have increased the rates from back in 2010, but they never did. So, now, when the rates have been adjusted again in 2016, they're effecting a double increase. Here's that conversation with Castro on the Orange Walk and Corozal bus runs:

Hon. Edmond Castro - Minister of NEMO & Transport
"In 1992 was the last time an SI was signed, 1992. In 2010 as the minister responsible for transport we came up with a verbal arrangement or agreement with the bus companies to balance it out at 10 cents a mile. In some areas like for example in the north, the buses running in the north continue to run at subsidized rates or 7 and 8 cents a mile; 55 miles to Orange Walk, they were still were running for 3.50 and 4 dollars a mile. That will not happen in the case whereby the run from Belize City to Belmopan which is 50 miles, 5 miles shorter which was 5 dollars. The route on the Northern Highway for 55 was 3.50 and 4 dollars. That was their choice to stay at the old 1992 agreed SI rate. However we can't stop the bus owners from charging less. Now what we did we were able to establish across the nation a 12 to 14 cents a mile within the first 100 miles, so when you look at from Dangriga to Punta Gorda then it goes from 15 cents to 17 cents a mile because to go 200 miles for fuel is more costly then getting fuel in the urban centre of Belize City and Belmopan or Orange Walk, it costs more. So we add an additional incentive for those bus companies there."

"Somehow the bus owners in the north will have to explain to their commuters how come now they want to ignore the 2010 verbal agreement at the 10 cents a mile they were not charging the commuters 10 cents a mile or else they would have been charging 5.50 to Orange Walk but now they would want to charge this 12 cents; they wa got wa problem because they spoil their commuters for all this years when we said make we balance this at 10 cents a mile they disregard that and they stayed with the 1992 and 7 and 8 cents a mile. So they will have to explain that to their commuters because it difficult for a commuter now to say well how come you want charge me almost double the price. Man da no government the charge you double the price."

Castro stressed that the Statutory Instrument only restricts the prices of basic public transportation countrywide.

Channel 7


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