Is Floralia becoming the new bus monopoly?
Just in the past few days, southern-based operator, Floralia has begun to offer new services to the Placencia Peninsula and the city of Belmopan. There are plans for the company to offer services to the north, beginning in Chetumal and ending in Benque Viejo del Carmen. With these expanded services coming simultaneously with the Ministry of Transport’s push to force the traditional operators to upgrade their bus fleets, it could be argued that this is one way where Floralia can monopolise the market, similar to an attempt in 2005. We asked Orson Elrington, the attorney for Ritchie’s Bus for his reaction to the suggestion.
Orson “OJ” Elrington, Attorney at Law: “I would think that the more appropriate word would be cannibalization and predatory behavior, unfair capitalization, many words but definitely not nationalization because it is not to the benefit of the nation. It is not the state taking over the transportation industry in fact it is the state being complicit in the destruction of the transportation industry. It is the state being complicit in the eradication of local bus owners and businessmen and women. It is the state being complicit in the utter disregard for the rules and the laws that govern the transportation industry to the benefit of one sole enterprise. That for me Dale is exactly where we’re heading and I think not only did they indicate such the minister himself on an interview indicated that he foresees Floralia taking runs in the north just like he saw Floralia, said that how he foresee Floralia taking runs all over the country. So I will leave this word of warning for the bus owners first and commuters second. Bus owners first in that this is not an attack only on Mr.Ritchie or in this case Mr.Shaw this is an attack on every single member of the bus association, every single transport provider across this country. And I will say to the commuters that while it is beneficial right now that you have a new entrant that has beneficial – that they have benefits that nobody else enjoys that is a great thing right now but how when they are a monopoly ? Wherever there is no competition in an industry you know who suffers the most ? The person who suffers the most is the consumers. So while temporarily it might be beneficial in the long run what is most important for an industry to ensure the highest quality of delivery of service is fair competition where everybody has an equal playing field and I think that that is all the bus owners have been asking for, that is all my client has been asking for and that is all the bus association has been asking for.”
And while Elrington calls Floralia’s actions predatory, the company’s director-owner, Marvin Vanzie has taken a different view. He feels that while his company has their own goals, there is enough space in the market for everyone.
Marvin Vanzie, Owner & Director, Floralia Limited: “The market speaks for itself Dale. It’s a tough question. Our vision is more focused on our growth, what we can do and you just dumb down on your customers, treat them well, make it as affordable as possible and as reliable as possible. What other operators will do the idea is that in usual markets it will make the more competitive and they’ll rise up to the plate, their service will be better, people will be more loyal to them so it’s actually a beneficial thing to transportation in general. I think there’s more than enough room for other operators as well but in our case Floralia wants to move from 24,000 people a month to 100,000 people a month. That’s our vision and again it’s just so that more and more people could experience what the people in the south are experiencing.”