The Belize Bus Association(BBA), of which Tillett’s Bus Line is a member, has clarified that there will not be a hike in bus fares as was reported by the company over the weekend via a press release.
BBA President Thomas Shaw told the Reporter that the company needs to send out a clarification to the public, explaining that they are not increasing the prices for commuters but rather they are reverting to the original price that was set by the Department of Transport in 2017.
“These fares are the same fares that were set many years ago,” Shaw explained. “But due to the competition they were not charging it. In the north, it was chaos, because some bus operators were charging $4 while others were charging $3, due to the number of buses that they had on the road. However, now due to the 75% capacity that they should be abiding by and the cost of fuel, they realize that it’s best that they charge the right fares.
Shaw added, “Now they are misleading the public saying that they are increasing the fares when they are not; all they are doing is reverting to the original price that was already set.”
Shaw then went on to explain that while bus operators can operate at a reduced price since there are no regulations against that, they simply cannot increase tariffs without authorization from the Department of Transport. That authorization according to Shaw has to go through a vetting process before it is authorized and then published through a Statutory Instrument (SI) so that it becomes legislated.
Shaw said that once a bus operator is found charging more than the prescribed tariff, they are liable for a fine of between $400 and $500. He said that the last time the Department of Transport adjusted the tariff was in 2017; however, that was only for some portions of the country, and those in most cases were adjusted by 10 or 20 cents the most.
Shaw’s told the Reporter that he suspects that the recent announcement by Tilletts Bus Line comes on the heels of the announcement made by James Bus Line at the beginning of the month, which had also noted a tariff increase in their runs. Shaw says that he foresees the other smaller bus companies to follow similarly.
“This is what most operators were waiting for, for somebody to start doing it or for the bigger operators to do it so that the other operators could jump on the bandwagon. James was one of the biggest operators and now that he is charging these rates then the other operators are falling in line to keep up with the competition since they will all need that extra buck on the table to keep up with the new SI and increased fuel prices.”
Over the weekend Tillett Bus line had announced that they are increasing their bus fares due to the increase in fuel prices, and other expenditures. The company said that they had been debating a solution for some time now for them to continue operating under the new SI.
Tillett’s bus line had announced that effective August 16th they will be charging $6 from Orange Walk to Belize City, $5 from Orange Walk to Ladyville, and $5 from Carmelita to Ladyville.