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A/C, recliner seats, and a smooth ride: Revised bus standards in effect as Transport Department to begin inspections ahead of December deadline

Posted: Saturday, October 7, 2023. 12:03 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: This week, Minister of Transport Rodwell Ferguson reminded bus operators that the December 2023 deadline for upgrades to the national bus system is fast approaching.

“We were very quiet for the last six months because I gave them a deadline. Now the deadline is almost here. So we are going to remind each operator that we are reminding you that you need to meet a certain standard. There were some adjustments to the standard because we recognize that Belizeans can’t afford to buy a brand-new bus, and so there are different criteria now,” the Minister told reporters in an interview this week.

Those standards include, among other things, that “Adequate ventilation/air condition should be provided for both passengers and the driver without needing to open any primary window or windscreen,” and “Public buses should be equipped with recliner seats, each measuring a minimum of fifteen inches in width. This ensures passenger comfort during transit. Seats located over a wheel arch should be positioned to ensure they do not cause discomfort to passengers.”

Specific regulations regarding vehicle parts, emergency exits and entrances, and other safety features, a total of 22, are included in the notice sent out by the Department on Thursday.

Per the Department and Transport Board, “Bus Operators are reminded that non-compliance with these standards by the specified deadline may result in penalties, including potential suspension or revocation of Road Service Permits by the Transport Board.”

Road Service Permits are now divided into four categories covering seven types – highway, shuttle, village, tour operator, charter, workers, and school buses. Buses older than 15 years as of 2023 will only receive permits valid for two years; those less than 15 years but older than 10 years, five years; those older than five years but less than 10 years, seven years; and those less than five years, 10 years.

The Minister also announced that “we are going to organize an inspection of all buses across the country. So I already instructed the acting CTO [Chief Transport Officer] that you need to have your team ready by Monday to go around the country to make sure and inspect all buses to see if they are road-worthy.”

 

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