Belize City Council is looking to introduce electric buses as a means of city public transportation within the first quarter of next year. City Mayor Bernard Wagner explained that once the grant funding is acquired within the next few months, the city could be looking at over two million dollars in additional yearly revenue, and employment opportunities for at least sixty persons.
Bernard Wagner, Mayor of Belize City: “We came about this initiative given the fact that we noted that our neighbor in the Caribbean Barbados had received thirty four electric buses as part of their green initiative to lower green house gas emissions and to meet the timeline of the Sustainable Development Goals of 2030 to lower CO2 in the air and to ensure sustainability. So that initiative started in the latter part of our administration for the 2018/2021 council and it has gained significant traction since then. We want to shift the demand from private transportation to public transportation. As you know when you drive in the city it’s very congested these days, parking is a huge undertaking and so we believe that if we are able to get efficient transportation within the city we could alleviate some of the parking issues that we face on a day to day basis. What we intend to do given that we’ll be more than likely getting grant funding for three buses to have this initiative work efficiently. We’re looking for six buses so what we plan to do is to develop some measure of private public partnership and we go public with the offering to shareholders to invest as well in these buses and when we did our analysis for the city transit we’re looking at revenues in the neighborhood of $2.6 million annually and if we are able to attract those investors/ shareholders for the funding of the other three buses and give them a reasonable return rate in the neighborhood of 5-6% we feel that that in itself will attract those other investors into partnering with the Belize City Council to really change the transport outlook in our city.”
Mayor Wagner explained that the e-buses will eventually become a countrywide collaboration with the wider transportation sector.
Bernard Wagner, Mayor of Belize City: “This program not only stems for Belize City but it also stems from the national transport as well. In my discussions with the principals in this project there will be some measure of electric buses along some of our highways in the city as well so it is all in a uniformed approach connecting green transit all across not only in Belize City but all across the entire country. We’re looking at four to five routes immediately off the top. We want to make sure that the existing players in the transport system have the opportunity to participate. Again like I told you we want to guarantee those parties that want to join with the city that they’ll be able to receive dividends or profit sharing in the neighborhood of 5% to 6% but the key thing here is that we want to maintain that CITCO owns 51% or more of the special purpose vehicle that will enable this initiative.”
The Belize City Council is also looking into the installation of parking meters. This project is not as near as the e-buses but Mayor Wagner says it is in the making.
Bernard Wagner, Mayor of Belize City: “The idea of parking meters has been around for some time, it’s not a novelty or it’s not something that Mayor Wagner brought up. Parking meters came about, has been on the table at the Mayor’s association long before 2018, long before me. It was discussed by the previous United Democratic Party council for years, has been on the drawing table at the Mayor’s Association it’s just the further push you need because you have to get some measure of statutory instrument passed to be able to charge for parking. It helps to regulate parking in any modern city. You can’t have a situation where people park continuously the entire day on prime real estate for the city and do not pay a fee for that and that is the intention. We have many business houses that are unable to serve their customers because some of the residents reach there very early in the morning park and go to their jobs and park there the entire day and so that business in that neighborhood when people want to go and shop in that business is unable to find parking and so they lose business. Our intention as soon as we are able to discuss it further at the Mayor’s Association, and this is not only centered for Belize City it is across all municipalities all municipalities want to institute some measure of parking meters so as to regulate parking and so that you have ease of congestion and some sort of order. That is the intent behind the parking meters. While you’d obviously generate some revenue the main intent is to regulate and to have some order and to have businesses be able to cater for the needs of their customers.”