Belmopan

After Belize City was leveled by Hurricane Hattie in 1961, government officials began planning a new seat of government. The initial phases of Belmopan, Belize’s capital city, were constructed between 1967 and 1970. To me, the resulting master-planned city of 16,000 people felt the closest to Woodbridge or a college campus that I’ve been since leaving home.

A highlight in Belmopan was my research at the national archives. The staff there pulled up a couple of great reports on buses for me, one of which was a Masters Geography thesis from 1989 entitled “50 Years of Buses: A Case Study of the Bus System in Belize, Central America.” It was fascinating to read this report and consider how the system had changed (and, in some cases, remained the same) during the course of my life.

An interesting facet of the Belmopan Bus Terminal was the prevalence of signs reading “No Standees Permitted.” While a nationwide law prohibits standees on buses, this bus terminal is the only place I have seen it enforced. One of the concessionaires in the terminal even takes it upon herself to warn passengers of the surprising enforcement, shouting “push your way through the boarding gates and to the bus, otherwise you won’t get a seat and you won’t get a ride” when buses pull in. Indeed, Belmopan is the only city in which a government Terminal Management Unit employee boards each bus before departure and ensures all passengers are seated. Being in geographical proximity to the seat of government seemed to increase concerns with the law and government regulations. Yet this effect also seemed to have quite a limited radius; once the buses left the terminal and headed towards the Western and Hummingbird Highways, they stopped to pick up numerous standees.

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