Bus Operators Given Extension to Upgrade Fleet Amid Rising Costs

Bus Operators Given Extension to Upgrade Fleet Amid Rising Costs

Bus operators have until the end of this year to upgrade at least fifty percent of their fleet. The decision came yesterday after the Minister of Transport met with the Belize Bus Association to clarify its position on the mandatory upgrade of commuter buses. On October 6, the ministry issued a release stating that the deadline for the upgrade of all buses was set for December 31. But it seems the ministry made an error, which was clarified in yesterday’s meeting. President of the Belize Bus Association, Thomas Shaw, says they were informed that bus owners will have until December 2024 to ensure all their buses are up to standard. But, according to Shaw, getting there will not be an easy task. He says that bus owners are feeling the pinch of the rising cost of goods and services and need GOB’s help to improve their fleets. 

Thomas Shaw, President, Belize Bus Owners Association: “Honestly in our meeting today we discussed prices because everything comes at a cost okay ?And with the state of the economy, the high rise in fuel, parts, tires, honestly the government has to do their part and the minister did allude that they understand because in other words for this to happen then the operators would be looking at about 75% prince increase in bus fares. Because when we got the subsidy fuel was just eleven change per gallon. Right now we’re above thirteen change per gallon and everything is going up. The bus operators had to pay more to their employees due to the five dollars per hour minimum wage, they had to do that, social security there was an increase in that since then I think it’s two increases in Social Security so it’s quite expensive and you know so we had a very amicable meeting here today and cool heads prevailed and that was one of the major major thing with our operators that you’re telling the operators come December all these buses should be off the road and so we clarify that. So operators if you’re listening if you have a bus – because of you look at the tiers it said anything exceeding fifteen years so once it’s inspected and DOT inspects it and it passes the inspection then you get a two year permit you’re not gonna get a five year or ten year permit but you’ll still be able to operate that bus. So it’s just a bit of clarity that the operators wanted out there.”

Speaking on the issue of finances was Chief Executive Officer in the Ministry of Transport, Adele Catzim.  She explained that the issue of cost did come up in yesterday’s meeting and that the government is prepared to explore several options to assist the bus operators.

Adele Catxim, CEO, Ministry of Transport: “As a result of continued dialogue with the bus operators we’re not here as government to push things hard and fast. We do have a commitment and a responsibility to the general public and to commuters and at the same time we’re listening to the bus operators. So some of the shifts that you have seen have come really because we see that many of the bus operators are working towards compliance and we really appreciate those who have already upgraded their fleets and those who are continuing to do the upgrades. We understand that things take time because it’s ap phased approach and so we don’t see it as anything that would compromise the end result that we’re trying to achieve. We do know that we have to achieve that together right ? And so that is where the dialogue comes in and we’re gonna have more regular and more continued dialogue with not just bus operators that operate buses on the major highways but all different types of operators. Those that work in the Tourism industry, the busitos and others.”

Reporter: The interview that was given by the president though did that come after the meeting with you or did it come before ? Because if it came –

Adele Catxim, CEO, Ministry of Transport: “No no no. What happened is they were outside – it came before the meeting with us and that’s simply because the meeting was scheduled for 2pm and we were making sure that the room we were using was cleaned because there was a previous meeting so it was just a few minutes delay but that interview was done prior to the meeting with us. But we had agreed from the previous day that it was important for us to meet. So I don’t see that there’s any rifts with the bus operators at this time.”

Reporter: You addressed the concerns in the meeting ? 

Adele Catxim, CEO, Ministry of Transport: “Yes we addressed several concerns that they had in the meeting.”

According to the Ministry of Transport, for bus operators to meet the required standards and remain in good standing with their Road Service Permits (RSP) the government may support their applications for financing from their preferred banking institutions.

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