If you ride the bus, you will need to budget a little extra for your tickets come April fifteenth. That is when a fare increase comes into effect. The Ministry of Transport and bus operators are still trying to finalize the exact amount of the increases following a meeting on Wednesday in Belmopan. Minister of Transport Rodwell Ferguson told our colleagues at Plus News that fares could rise by as little as twenty-five cents or as much as a dollar in some areas. He conceded the increase is still below what bus operators had asked for, and so Cabinet will have to decide whether bus companies will also get a fuel subsidy.

Rodwell Ferguson, Minister of Transport

"The main concern is the price of fuel, because they are saying they are not making any money because the price is now almost fourteen dollars a gallon for diesel and most of their buses are diesel buses. So, I understand their plight and concern. But, it is not my decision. Whatever I come to terms with then I will have to take it to Cabinet for approval. So I go back to Cabinet on Tuesday and after Cabinet figure we have final price, a final structure, a final figure, for the bus operators."

Reporter

"So more or less, what is the price increase that we will be looking at when it comes to the increase of the bus fares?"

Rodwell Ferguson

"Um, there were three tiers. We are saying that anything between twelve miles and below is twenty five cents. Anything between twelve miles and thirty one miles is fifty cents. Anything after thirty one miles is a dollar increase. So, that is what we came up with. That is still not enough for them. So when we go with the subsidy, they should get an increase plus a subsidy."

Reporter

"Bus operators in the meeting, were they happy that you are looking at a tier increase for the bus fares or did they want more?"

Rodwell Ferguson

"They had a price structure; that is more than what Cabinet agreed to. I tell them not every time you bargain you get what you want. I am not the only person who will decide. It is a cadre of people who make up the Cabinet. So once they decide and say this is what we will do I will come to them and say this is what Cabinet has decided. So they very understand people. To be honest, they say it is the first time that they can meet the minister and sit down and bargain and negotiate. They had never done this before. Everything was just pushed down on them."

Reporter

"If Cabinet agrees on the bus fares increase and subsidies, how soon can Belizeans expect this change in prices?"

Rodwell Ferguson

"Very good question. Cabinet agreed that after next week Tuesday, it is going to be announced that there is going to be an increase in the price to the commuter by April fifteenth. So we are going to give them at least two weeks' notice."

Channel 5