The Ministry of Transport is raising the standards of public transportation. For months, the department has been consulting with the bus operators to upgrade from the outdated and deteriorating school buses to coach buses. The aim is to have coach buses as the primary model for commuters. The Secretary of the Belize Bus Association, Ewart Metzgen, explains this push towards upgrading their fleet is only being made greater by Floralia’s interest in making runs across the country. Metzgen says, however, that they do not have the liquidity to make this type of investment.
Ewart Metzgen, Secretary, Belize Bus Association: “We know we need to upgrade. We want to upgrade but upgrading comes at a cost and the way how permits are being issued, I mean. The industry is already saturated and in order for us to go say make an investment of $300,000, there has to be some security for our operators to go and invest that sort of money. We don’t have that currently. The situation with the National Bank really right now is neither here nor there because they want to assist but they’re asking and they’re telling us. They have an E-wallet, a system whereby they’re asking operators to sign up, get the E-wallet. We have no problem doing that but what we told them was us as operators have no problem signing up for the E-wallet but you go and tell the Belizean public out there that you need to have this E-wallet so that you can catch the bus because that is the way they want to go, electronic. Electronically that you could go and just swipe your phone on a thing and you could get on the bus and get a ticket. But, the Belizean population, I mean, those things take time and they won’t give you the loan until they get the data that they need and we are telling them that you all won’t get the data that you need because it’s not all Belizeans who will do that.”
Metzgen says a similar concern has arisen about the popular Mexican bus line, ADO, whose owners have made requests to GOB to be able to re-enter the country.
Ewart Metzgen, Secretary, Belize Bus Association: “We may not have a 2022 bus but we have operators with the couch buses that almost everyday the cruise ship industries come in. Those tourists use those buses to go around. Those buses are sanctioned by the BTB so if it could meet their quality, why can’t we bring the people from our Western and our Northern border? I mean ADO does not have to come in here. You can transfer. When they get to our borders they still have to come off the buses with their luggage and everything to pass through Customs and Immigration. They bring them to our borders. They go through Customs & Immigration. Our buses are in the parking lot to pick them up and bring them in.”