Bus service slowly returns to normal after strike strands thousands of inter-provincial travelers

Feb 27, 2018 | 1 comment

Bus service on most interprovincial bus routes was expect to resume today but transport companies say it could be several days before all routes are serviced. The companies say the strike was limited to 24 hours and that some progress had been made in negotiations with the government.

Few buses were operating from Quito’s main bus terminal at mid-morning Tuesday. (La Hora)

On Tuesday, about half of Ecuador’s long-distance bus companies were on strike, leaving tens-of-thousands of travels looking for other means of transportation.

Although the National Federation of Public Transport Cooperatives (Fenacotip) claimed that more than 80 percent of interprovincial buses were out of service Tuesday, Ecuador’s transportation ministry said that 50 to 60 percent of buses were rolling Tuesday morning.

In several cities, including Cuenca and Riobamba, idle buses parked in streets near the bus terminals, bringing traffic to a standstill.

At noon on Tuesday, the president of Fenacotip, Geomar Grueso, called the strike a success and said the stoppage would continue until midnight Tuesday. “More than 80 of buses are not in operation today and I believe we have made our point to the government. We regret the paralysis but it was necessary to make our point,” he said.

At issue, according to Grueso, is what he claims is a $79 million debt owned since 2015 by the government to bus companies. “The former government promised us payment in exchange for not raising rates but the debt has not been paid and we are tired of waiting.”

Fenacotip is also demanding a crack-down on vans that provide interprovincial service, competing with bus companies.

Transportation minister Paul Granda called the strike illegal but said that many members of Fenacotip have “put the welfare of the country first.”

Granda said police have been called to several bus stations, including Otavalo, when violence broke out between striking drivers and those who continued to operate buses.

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