Cuenca News

City bus companies demand fare hike; Say equipment and service are deteriorating without it

Cuenca’s bus owners are criticizing the municipal government for not acting to increase fares on the city’s public bus system. The Chamber of Transport, which represents private bus owners, said service will get worse if a substantial hike is not enacted quickly.

City bus fleet is deteriorating.

The chamber blamed the Cuenca municipal council and Mayor Marcelo Cabrera for putting aside bus fare increase recommendations made by University of Cuenca consultants four months ago. “The discussion needs to begin now,” said transportation chamber president Leonardo Albarracín. “We believe the increases put forward by the consultants are too low but we will not arrive at a new fare until we begin to talk.”

The current fare of 25 cents has been in place for 14 years. The consultants offered three fare increase options: 26, 32, and 33 cents, saying that a 32 or 33 cent fare is necessary to update the rolling stock and improve driver salaries.

The transportation chamber claims a fare of 38 cents is necessary to make major improvements. Albarracín says that between 10% and 15% of the 450 buses in the municipal fleet are out of service for repairs at any given time.  “Many of the buses are far past their useful operating age and there’s a limit to how long we can keep repairing them,” he says.

Organizations representing students and the elderly are lobbying for no rate increase, saying members of their groups cannot afford it. Both the city and the transportation chamber agree that bus companies would require a large public subsidy if rates remain 25 cents.

  • Dogoslave

    Cuenca could have purchased 450 new, eco friendly buses for about $170 million tops, drafted some type a lease back arrangement with the existing and/or new operators and had a real public transit system in operation right now. But no, Cuenca went for the “tourist gimmick” that’s now $200 million in, still not complete, two years behind schedule and providing zero public transportation. You don’t need a lot of imagination to figure out how this movie ends.

    • Romulo Maldonado

      Halleluyah!!! But I guess that it is foolish to ask Granda, Cabreara and its gang of politicians to THINK !!

    • Katheryn

      Coulda, woulda, shoulda, solves nothing. Provide ideas and suggestions to move forward more efficiently and with more productive results. Give the new Pres time to sort it out. At least he is active in improving things and seems to be a results driven leader. Time will tell.

      • guest

        Katheryn, the president doesn’t have anything to do with this decision. If you lived here or spent time here you might know that. (:

        • Pixelvt

          how is where Katheryn lives relevant, you hide behind a name called guest,

          • StillWatching

            Bill, what’s with you today? Did you take illogical pills with your morning coffee? Katheryn not only doesn’t live here, she has never visited here and probably never will. She’s one of those kibitzers that has an opinion on everything with no knowledge or personal experience to inform her views. That seems pretty relevant to “guest’s” comments to me.

            As for your comments about “guest’s” screen name, how is that germane to his comment at all, especially when most of us, including yourself, are using screen names that don’t identify us beyond what we choose to reveal?

            • Katheryn

              In reality, my comment is relevant to wherever one might live and care about their community. There are many that follow this site that do not reside in Cuenca; those that do, taking an educated guess, their reason to do so is to learn about real life in Cuenca and who are some that have chose Cuenca and why. Their is much knowledge from those that have already transitioned that is not just, using one of your favorite words, ‘hyperbole’. This unbiased information helps one decide whether or not the place they may ultimately move to or rule it out completely. “kibitzers”, really? “opinion on everything”, really? Where is my jumbo sized fly swatter?

        • Katheryn

          Does the President not follow all that goes on and have some influence with those decision makers? It was a suggestion and I was awaiting a negative response 🙂 Where’s my fly swatter?

    • Galileo

      The black smoke brigade is a result of jackrabbit takeoffs. The drivers know it too! If you floor the accelerator on take off it produces a black cloud. If you take off in a reasonable manner, very little smoke. Screw these producers of poison gas, let them know they don’t run the show and after a year or two, if things are going much better, give them a nickel more.

      • StillWatching

        Your point is certainly valid but personally, I’d rather put those smoke jockeys in electric buses that have STRICT graduated rheostats that absolutely prevent jackrabbit starts. Then, not only would smoke become a non issue, the equipment would last longer and the comfort of the passengers would be enhanced greatly.

    • guest

      I think instead of giving an across the board increase that the city should give out yearly bonuses for good performance and courteous driving. If drivers fail, it hits them in the pocket. I don’t think giving an increase for crappy service is the way to go!

      • StillWatching

        Another good idea.

      • ecexplorer

        Another “should” on Ecuador?

    • StillWatching

      Although your observations are done with the clarity of hindsight, they are still valid and worthwhile. I have to admit that even as someone that is wildly in favor of the Tranvia for personal and selfish reasons (I’m a train freak) your proposal would have been a lot smarter than what we have now. Imagine a full fleet of electric buses, silently serving the entire city without the billowing fumes of the awful blue diesel monsters that we have now.

      All that said, anybody that is candid and honest will admit that a bus fare that hasn’t been raised in 14 years can’t possibly be just, nor can it continue to support the existing fleet even in the terrible condition that exists now.

  • fredtover

    38 cent increase? This would be a nightmare of giving change with the obsolete pennies. Raise it to 35 cents and 25 for seniors and students would be logical.

    • Sara

      The fare doesn’t need to be in round numbers since payment will be made by card, not cash.

      • StillWatching

        Of course you are right, Sara, but you have to write more simply for freddy. He’s very old and understanding complex concepts such as you have presented require much explanation for freddy.

        • Katheryn

          I’ll be happy to share my “jumbo”, flyswatter to Freddy!!

      • lorenzo

        That’s the plan in the land of manana. Cards are more convenient, but notice how many people still use coins. Fares will be hiked long before everyone is trained to use cards. Gradual change in human behavior is the Ecuadorian way. Immediate mandatory card use would cause mass confusion. In the meantime there will be a lot of pennies floating around.
        I agree with Fred. Rounding the fare is common sense. Of course, common sense sometimes carries a different definition here in Ecuador.

        • Katheryn

          Unfortunately, common sense seems to be lacking, and more so each day, not just in Ecuador but everywhere. Are most of you living so insulated there and find only fault with everything and think it is not so everywhere? Take a good look around, it doesn’t take a lot to do so and see the world is falling apart, money rules and common sense went by the wayside along with most people’s moral compasses. Take a good look around what is going on outside of Ecuador. Those of us that have retired are looking for the best fit for their respective needs, wants and desires and to live as peacefully as possible for the last chapter of life while, hopefully making a positive contribution to their community.

          • lorenzo

            If you are really considering retirement in Ecuador, not just fantasizing, hop on a plane and spend some time here. You can find a nice hotel in Cuenca for under $40/night. Trying to figure it out by chatting with expats on your computer is no substitute for real experience.
            One thing that you’ll find here (outside of the expat community) is a culture very different than the one you’re used to. I don’t complain about it. I get a kick out of it, a good laugh every now and then. Ecuadorian common sense can be different from US common sense. But, that’s okay. Society continues to function, just as it does in the States.
            I’m sorry that you have such a dim view of the world. Unfortunately that happens a lot with older folks. They find it hard to accept change.

            • Katheryn

              Yep, sometimes not just the old folks need to take off the rose colored glasses and look around. It seems as though you and a very select few others consider this site as your own private little space. Perhaps you guys should just form your own little “private’, Facebook group where then you are provided the ability to be selective on who you allow in. Awe, but that would take all the fun you guys get out of cyber bullying. You and some others are a prime example of those that are not helping or even caring about the world they live in. Now grab your fly/spider swatter and make use of it.

    • StillWatching

      Either bad syntax or the usual freddy lack of understanding. Nobody has proposed a 38 cent INCREASE in fares. As far as your silly issue with the pennies is concerned, Sara, below, has addressed that adequately.

      • ecexplorer

        $0.38 is minimal and quite likely not enough to pay for the deferred maintenance on the buses. Of course, if it is raised enough to cover all of that then we are deprived of the ability to bitch about those conditions. A real dilemma it would seem.

        • StillWatching

          I think you missed the point. Cranky fred said a 38 cent INCREASE, not a 38 cent fare. Go re-read what he wrote. The way he wrote it would bring the fare to 63 cents.

          • ecexplorer

            No. I got it. I ignored it because it was discrepant.

            • StillWatching

              “Discrepant” seems like a poor word choice. It means “not in agreement” and without a comparative reference, it makes no sense. “Discordant” or “non-sensical” may have been a better choice. In any case, Freddy will never get it anyway.

  • jclbiz

    Convince the drivers to stop trying to destroy the bus. They have no respect for the machine or the passengers.

    • StillWatching

      How would you convince them? You and “guest” are certainly on to a good idea, but without practical ideas how to implement your idea, it is just a dream, not a solution.

      • ecexplorer

        Solutions? You want solutions? Who do you think you are?

  • Galileo

    I asked my wife yesterday why the bus drivers were being more professional and courteous? Now we know. It is too little too late and rewarding them for a terrible job is not what makes good sense. I say it should stay the same, especially since the cost of everything has dropped so much recently… according to the government.

  • guest

    Stillwatching, In general I agree with you. However I do disagree that the repairs should be made on the customers dime. The necessary repairs should have been done previously and drastic measures should have already been taken to prevent more damage and destruction. I guess at this point it doesn’t really matter though. The drivers need to go to “charm school!” Not the same one Katherine went to.

  • Eric Schnabel

    Why not bite the bullet and take the fares up to 38 cent. That way the busses can be upgraded and repaired as needed. Not funding the the improvements will require much larger increases in the years to come.