Bus protest closes streets in El Centro

Dec 29, 2017

Although Thursday’s protest was peaceful, police in riot gear stood ready to act at Cuenca’s municipal building at Parque Calderon. (Photo by Brian Buckner)

Hundreds of protesters demanding an increase in city bus fares closed streets around Parque Calderon on Thursday. Organized by the Cuenca Chamber of Transportation, marchers carried signs attacking the municipal council for delaying a decision on the type of new buses that transportation companies will be required to buy.

According to the president of the chamber, the marchers were mostly family members and friends of bus owners and drivers since buses continued to operate as normal. “This will change if the city fails to act on our demands,” said Leonardo Albarracín. “Next time, the owners and drivers will be the ones on the streets and the buses will not be running.”

Besides resolving the replacement bus question and immediately implementing the fare increase, Albarracín is demanding that the city compensate owners $3,000 per bus for loss of revenue and the requirement that buses continue to provide service to transfer terminals. Passengers are allowed to change buses at the terminals without paying an additional fare.

Cuenca Mayor Marcelo Cabrera rejected the demand for compensation but said the city council will act to raise fares no later than next week. “We have been meeting with transportation officials in Quito regarding the requirement for replacement buses and will have a resolution within days,” he said.

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