SPTC addresses high influx of vehicles on the island

Wednesday, February 1st, 2017

Ambergris Caye residents have raised concerns over reports of more golf carts arriving on the island. The local authorities at The San Pedro Town Council (SPTC) have confirmed the increase of more motor vehicles. However, according to them, the impact will be minimal given the fact that most of these are for replacement only.
In an interview earlier this month, Mayor Daniel Guerrero indicated that the importation of vehicles to the island is the sole responsibility of the San Pedro Transport Board (SPTB). The SPTB which includes three members from the mainland and two from the island, was officially established in November of 2016. The San Pedro Sun tried to contact its Chairperson Ruth Dawson and other key members to comment on the issue, but to no avail.
However, representatives from the SPTC were available to discuss the topic, including Jorge Aldana. He indicated that up to 75 vehicular permit applications are processed each month. He clarified that the term ‘vehicular permit’ does not necessarily refer to only vehicles, but it applies to motor cycles, small enclosed cars and golf carts. “The majority of the recent permits approved were mainly for replacements,” said Aldana. According to him, with a moratorium open for the application of vehicular permits, anyone is allowed to apply. But it will be up to the island’s traffic board to decide whether the applicant is eligible, especially applications involving new vehicles.
Aldana stated that since the importation of vehicles to the island will not cease for the meantime, residents have been encouraged to apply for motorcycle permits instead. “We have seen an increase in applications for motorcycles and we want to continue encouraging everyone to do so,” he said.
It is believed that as San Pedro Town continues rapidly developing, the issues regarding traffic congestion may not go away anytime soon. Aldana reiterated that the SPTC will work closely with the island’s Transport Department to alleviate the traffic conditions before it spirals out of control. He shared that they will continue monitoring the situation and appropriately manage the influx of vehicles to the island.
Efforts to address the traffic conditions were also discussed at a recent traffic public consultation held on Monday, January 16th in San Pedro Town. Invited guest Darwin Juell from Canada, a veteran in creating traffic plans for different municipalities, shared ideas on how to tackle the issue on the island. The need for more sidewalks, better taxi services, and additional streets were some one of the main topics discussed. Juell strongly suggested monitoring the influx of vehicles on the island before an action plan can be executed. In his presentation, he stated that almost 60% of the vehicles on the island are golf carts, which do take most of the parking space at any time of the day. He further commented on the approaches to deal with the issue, including pedestrianizing of streets and the beach, the drafting of a taxi operational manual, and the possible implementation of public transportation.
For the time being, residents were once again encouraged to also do their part and use their vehicles only when necessary and to continue making use of the public parking lot on Angel Coral Street.

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