By Michelle Sutherland
After several weeks of consultations and back and forth, the Ministry of Transport and bus operators have finally managed to reach an agreement concerning the increase in bus fares.
As we had previously reported, the change in commuter rates will become effective on April 15th (Good Friday), and according to a late evening press release by the Department of Transport, the rates will be an increase of $0.25 below 13 miles, $0.50 between 13 to 25 miles and an additional $1.00 above 25 miles. The rates will be rolled out countrywide and will apply to both regular and express runs.
The press release informed that “after consultation with key stakeholders within the Public Transportation System, Cabinet has approved a blended alternative consisting of a fuel subsidy for bus operators and an increase in bus fares to minimize the impact on commuters and ensure the sustainability of the public transport industry in Belize.”
Additionally, the Government has pledged to provide a monthly fuel subsidy to bus operators traveling in excess of 13 miles (one-way) for the number of gallons used. The fuel subsidy was approved for a six-month period with a cap on diesel at $12.50. This according to the Government will translate into over $1 million in savings for commuters.
According to the release, while commuters would have been forced to pay up to a $3.00 increase on a one-way trip, their assistance to bus operators in the form of a fuel subsidy has resulted in that being capped across the country to a maximum of $1.00.
The Government is expected to issue a Statutory Instrument containing the new bus fares in the upcoming days prior to it taking effect on Good Friday.