Commuters who utilize public transportation have been calling our newsroom for the last two days questioning the recent increase in bus fares in the western corridor. We have been making efforts to get a comment from the Transport Department and were told yesterday by the Chief Transport Officer, Tirso Galvez, that they have been made aware of it and that it is a move done by the bus operators without the authorization of the Transport Department. Minister of State responsible for Transport, Edmond Castro confirmed the illegality of the price increase.
“They have no authority to change the price structure as they operate on our highways. The permit does not allow for that. The board deals with that. I would like to say that the last SI in terms of price structuring was done in 1992. So since then we have not restructured the fares.”
At around eleven o’clock this morning Minister Castro went into a meeting with the western bus operators to iron out several issues including the recent increase. This afternoon, we spoke with him for an update on the meeting’s outcome.
“Sometime last year or the year before we had an agreement where we were trying to stabilize the price at ten cents per mile situation so they had a whole fee structure so what we did is we tried to work with them and see how we could stay within the $2 to .14 cents per mile situation over long periods and though we kind of agree along with them that the regular prices will remain the same and we will try to work towards an October 1st whereby I will speak with the transport board and also the cabinet to see if there is any additional thing that we can do to help with the situation. We are looking at the entire country to see how we could deal with the price adjustment throughout the entire country and as I said earlier we will discuss it with the board and then take it to cabinet to see if we need to do a new SI, hopefully the new price structure will not take effect until maybe the first of October once we can clear off the different hurdle.”
Residents especially students are concerned as one person told us, quote, “I am a university student and I can’t afford $5.00 from Santa Elena to Belmopan and $3.00 from Cayo to central farm.” If the increase in prices is approved or upheld by the Government, it will take a toll on those who travel to school and work daily and especially to university students whose classes vary from Belize City, Belmopan and Central Farm.” Love News understands that the increase was by one dollar; but as you heard, Minister Castro says the prices are to go back as they were and if any changes should come, it would be after October 1, 2016.