Mon. July 20, 2015
Last Tuesday night—July 14th — I got onto a Westline Bus — no. 2209 — around 7:20 p.m. in San Ignacio. The bus was on its way to Belize City and left San Ignacio around 7:30 p.m. The bus was filled with people— some standing in the aisle. The conductor began collecting money and, evidently, some person could not pay. The conductor was really upset—using foul words and yelling loudly.
Some woman and, I believe, another man offered to pay for this person, but the conductor would not let anyone pay for this person. Since people were standing in the aisle, I could not see all that was happening.
Finally, the conductor yelled for the bus driver to pull the bus over and stop, which he did. There was more yelling and carrying on. The bus was well into Santa Elena. The conductor told the bus driver to take the bus back to the police station, which he did. Many passengers did not like this.
At the top of the hill that goes down to the low bridge, as the driver turned the bus to begin the downward descent, a fight erupted at the front of the bus. The driver stopped the bus. Fists were flying as the fight seemed to proceed to the middle of the bus, and then back to the front. The bus driver got out — people (men) were fighting, and some of us were trying to get off the bus through the front doorway. Someone had his hand holding onto the bus at the doorway, and someone else kept punching the hand.
Some of us were able to get off, as the fight seemed to proceed outside the bus. I tried to call 911 and someone else was trying to get the local police. However, both lines were busy.
Then the bus proceeded down the hill to the bridge. Those of us who got off the bus walked to the Hawkesworth Bridge. Someone finally got through on the phone to the San Ignacio Police. We heard the siren — and saw that the bus was parked there.
The conductor was standing by the bus, and said nothing. Then he went into the police station. After a short while, the bus driver came out and got onto the bus. People began getting back onto the bus. I waited. The conductor came out of the police station and entered the bus, so I did not get back onto this bus. I don’t know if this conductor had been drinking alcoholic beverages or not.
This could have been a very serious situation, had this fight begun as we were nearing the bridge or getting onto the bridge. The bus could have turned over — upside down in the water or on its side.
There are other issues involving buses in Belize. People jam up at the doorways to buses and seem to have no courtesy or manners in getting on in single file — even men pushing ahead of women.
Another thing that isn’t so pleasant is that most (not all) bus drivers AND conductors like to turn on rock and rap music with words that are not decent, especially for children to hear.
Some like this playing loudly. Some passengers like to play cell phones loudly also. If we are paying for transport on buses, shouldn’t we be able to travel in a peaceful way without hearing all this? Why is it not mandatory that, if drivers, conductors, and passengers want to listen to this, that they need to have earphones?
The bus service also needs to follow the rules for overcrowdedness and mere courtesy by bus drivers and conductors because this is a public service.
Elaine J. Pinkerton