The public outcry has been tremendous on the Belize City Council’s new decision to ban city buses from going down town Albert Street – an announcement that was made by Councilor Alifah Elrington-Hyde. But Mayor Bradley explains that the media had it wrong. Mayor Bradley said that the council is looking at creating a wider loop of traffic and the master plan calls for relocating some of the key assets which includes the bus stop that is in front of the supreme court. Mayor Bradley explains that the council has gathered evidence of multiple buses that have stopped in front of the Supreme Court and behind Belize Bank which have led to congestion of traffic. He explains that this is the pivotal reason why the council has moved the bus stop to Regent Street west
Darrell Bradley – Mayor of Belize City:
Strategic recommendations were made to relocate some of the key assets in the area, including the bus stop. The bus stop currently is located in front of the Supreme Court building, and our analysis shows, and our analysis includes documents and pictures showing the congestion of that area, because the buses have been allowed to stop for extended periods of time at the bus stop in front of the Supreme Court building. Essentially what we are going to do, as part of our Downtown Development Project, is that we are relocating that bus stop on Regent Street West, and we are building a bus facility. Some of the concerns that I have heard, I think, are rightly placed and we are ensuring that the facility that we build will have a canopy to ensure that it sheltered in case of rain, it will have proper lighting to provide for security and we’re working with the police to actually station a security booth that’s going to be manned by a police officer in that area because I think that the issue of safety of persons who use that area is a very relevant and important concern; but the idea is that want to expand the loop. The loop currently is Albert and Regent Streets, and that’s where the traffic circulates. We want the loop to be Regent Street going out to Regent Street West and then on to East and to West Canal
Mayor Bradley admits that one of the council’s weakness is lack of consultation. Mr. Bradley also mentions that the council will have to step up its efforts to educate the public about the master plan. He told us that the decision to move the bus stop from Regent St. to Regent St. West was a council decision. The mayor was asked if the decision to ban city buses from traversing Albert St. was a unilateral one. He said that there was never any decision to ban buses from Albert Street.
Darrell Bradley – Mayor of Belize City:
There is no banning of buses in that area. The buses could still drive around and go on Regent Street just as how they have done before. The only thing that we are preventing is that we are saying that the bus stop will be relocated from in front of the Supreme Court and that will go to Regent Street West so that the bus still can go and drive on Regent Street, still can pick up people in front of BTB, still can pick up people in front of Wesley Upper School, still can pick up people in front of the Supreme Court, but you cannot stop there, the driver can’t exit the vehicle, the driver can’t leave the bus there for ten minutes, and then wait until the bus fills up. It is only a regular stop on a run and the bus stop now is on Regent Street West; that’s all we’re doing.
While that interview was taking place, the media was also meeting with Councilor Alifa Elrington-Hyde, whose portfolio this matter falls under. We note that the Council did not hold a public consultation before executing their plan of re-routing traffic. But PlusNews conducted its own consultation of sorts. Journalists Geovanni Brackett and Aaron Humes hit the streets of Belize City last week, where residents had much to say about the recent changes. So on Tuesday, Councilor Alifa Elrington-Hyde was asked just why the bus operators and commuters were left out of the initial discussion.
Alifah Elrington-Hyde, -Councilor Responsible for Traffic:
There was no consultation with respect to changing the bus routes. There was no consultation with respect to changing the bus stop. I don’t think the council thought it necessary to have a consultation of that nature because it wasn’t as—for the lack of a better word—we didn’t foresee that it would have caused such controversy to change the bus stop. It’s a situation where we saw a problem and we were trying to fix a problem. And we are still trying to fix the problem.