Bus Owners want 10 Cents a Mile Print E-mail
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Wednesday, 19 September 2012 00:00

Buses pick up passengersThe Belize Bus Owners Association held a meeting on Tuesday, September 18th, during which they say they will be asking commuters to pay 10 cents for every mile that a passenger is transported. That means that a trip from Belize City to Belmopan for example would cost a passenger .00 on regular runs and for express when in the past, bus owners have been charging .00. The change in price is not something out of the ordinary as a 1992 Statutory Instrument allows them for that rate to be charged. And while the bus owners can quickly point out that there will be an increase in the fares that they will be charging for runs such as the one mentioned, there is no talk as to what will happen in the shorter runs.

The Guardian spoke to a few commuters who use the bus services for just these runs and they pointed out that if in fact the bus owners charge 10 cents per mile, it is only reasonable to believe that the price for trips to Western Paradise and Ladyville for example would go down. In these cases, The Guardian understands that the figure will be rounded off to the nearest dollar so an 8 mile run which would be equivalent to 80 cents would be rounded off to a dollar. Trips to Hattieville, which is 16 miles would be rounded off to 2 dollars. The Belize Bus Owners Association says the new fares will be implemented by September 22nd.

 Speaking to The Guardian Minister of Transport, Hon. Edmund Castro, explained that there is nothing wrong or illegal in the request by the bus owners however, he pointed out that the prices which are currently being charged is because the bus owners have been subsidizing the extra that is not charged by overloading buses. Still, he says, it is not an illegal move. He also explained that for the time being, there is anywhere between 70 and 80 percent compliance to the Ministry of Transport's conditions for road service permits. Among the conditions which most bus operators have complied with is the numbering of busses as well as seats inside the bus. They have also been complying with placing of the contact information at the front of the buses.

One of the major points however, which all bus owners are not complying with is the implementation of a ticketing system. Castro said that by next week, the Ministry will be providing the bus owners with a solution through a private company. The company will be making demonstrations to bus owners on a ticketing system, which will cost them between 5 and 10 cents per ticket. This system he said will be similar to the one where boledo, lotto and similar gaming tickets are sold. While the demonstrations will be done for the bus owners, they do not have to buy the system; they must implement one of their own. The ticket system, says Castro, is a way by which the problem of standees can be addressed and it has the double benefit where bus owners know the amount of revenue they are collecting on their runs. He concluded that one of the major problems of standees can be self-regulated if commuters begin to refuse to pay if they are standing in buses thereby minimizing that problem.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Transport has established the number 637-1070 as a hotline which will be answered by Ministry of Transport personnel as well as a text-in number 637-1075 for commuters and the general public to lodge complaints.