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Belizean Bus Operators’ Association says Floralia runs will “strangle” their chances to make money

The Transport Board met on Thursday of last week to decide whether it will give additional bus runs in the north and west to the southern-based bus company, Floralia. While a final decision has been deferred until the board meets in October, the Belizean Bus Association is again calling for that to be dismissed out of hand. That’s because the competition, says the association, will zap an already small revenue pool. The association’s president Thomas Shaw says it’s nothing personal, but Floralia – if it gets its way – will knock bread from their members’ mouths. 

Thomas Shaw, President, Belizean Bus Association: “The BBA has nothing against Floralia. We welcome competition but it has to be fair not unfair. The way they were inserted into the industry, I think that it’s unfair due to the fact that we have other operators out there that, existing operators, that were doing the run. When it comes to the Transport Board, you find out that in the, I’m going back in 1975 when Louis Sylvestre was Minister of Transport. At that time, if a permit was supposed to be given or approved, the only way that permit would be approved: if the area wasn’t serviced; there weren’t no operators doing that run and if the service was needed. They wouldn’t put in a new operator. They would be putting in, they would be looking at the existing operator seeing that he has an investment already. Now Floralia came in and yes, we don’t want to because we still have a court case going on with them, but anyway, initially they came in and they got three runs out of the south which they are doing presently. I asked Mr. Vanzie if he has any interest in doing more runs. He said no. He said that’s it, that would be final unless the department thinks otherwise. Lo and behold, it was out there on Facebook, the advertisement that they’ll be running in the north. They’ll be running in the west and the application came up to the board of which I objected and that permit, that application was deferred until October, until next month.” 

Ewart Metzen, the secretary of the association, added that the hope is that the board also examines the pressure its members face to improve their bus fleets. 

Ewart Metzgen, Secretary, Belizean Bus Association: “Why we are truly objecting to the Floralia runs is because, in order for us to get these new buses that they want, the existing runs that we have, the monies that we make off those runs, we have to show those. We have to take in figures to the bank. Now if Floralia, a newcomer now, and the time that they are getting there they are 15 minutes in front of you, ahead of you and before they came, that particular bus run where you had already had your paperwork set out to show them in the bank to say, alright, I make $800 off this one run to show that, alright, this is how come I could pay, the income I am making where I can pay for my loan. Now you put Floralia 15, 20 minutes in front of me. No care what they want to say, it won’t affect them. It’s a different service. You will be affecting that man so that revenue will be cut from $800 to 4 / 500 dollars. Now this is the basis of why we’re objecting because they want us to improve but they’re straggling us in a way because they’re putting a man there to cut into the revenue that you need to show the bank how you will pay back for the loan. So that’s one of our points why we really are objecting to it because then in order for us to improve you can’t be putting somebody to affect our figures that we need to show the bank. They are cutting into our revenue. The bottom line is they are cutting into the other operator’s revenue.”

The Transport Board received proposals from Floralia on August 4 to operate a service from the Santa Elena Border in Corozal, passing through Corozal and Orange Walk Towns on its way to the cities of Belize and Belmopan, then to San Ignacio ending in Benque Viejo del Carmen. The company plans to offer a service that goes in the opposite direction ending at the northern border. The company also wants to add another run, originating out of Placencia going to the municipalities of Dangriga and Belmopan and ending in Belize City. A return service ending in Placencia is also planned. We stress that no decision has yet been made by the board