Cuenca’s new bus transfer system will be tested for the first time this weekend. The city’s Municipal Traffic Department says that the tests-runs will be conducted on Saturday and Sunday because of reduced passenger loads.
The new transfer stations are located at Terminal Terrestre on Av. España and at the Feria Libre market on Av. Las Americas and are the central feature in a trunk line bus transportation system that the traffic department says will reduce bus traffic and save passenger transport time. The new stations have sat idle for months because of a conflict between bus operators and the city. Operators claimed that the transfer system, in which passengers are not charged a second 25 cent fare for transfers, would affect their profits.
Boris Palacios, director of the traffic department, said that the weekend tests will allow managers to observe the operation of the new system, allowing for adjustments when the system becomes operational.
According to Palacios, the new system will reduce the number of bus routes as well as shorten ride time for passengers. He also said it will reduce the number of buses operating in the historic district.
Cuenca and Azuay Province is a land of bats
According to researchers, Cuenca and the surrounding area is home to millions of bats. Although the largest concentrations are in Yunguilla, 40 miles south of the city, and in the Cajas mountains to the west, the city has a healthy bat population of its own.
A bat research project headed up by scientists at the University of Azuay, is collecting information to develop a profile of habitat, feeding patterns and total population. They say that about 30 of Ecuador’s 140 bat species live in Azuay province.
According to University of Azuay biologist Vinicio Santillan, the Andean bat is the area’s most common, with vampire bats coming in a close second. He said that the Andean bats are well known to Cuenca football fans as huge flocks circulate during night games, feeding on the insects attracted by the lights at Alejandro Serrano Aguilar stadium.
Vampire bats live mostly in the countryside, Santillan says, where they feed on livestock.
Edwin Zárate, director of the Biology, Ecology and Management Department at the University of Azuay, says that although bat species are similar at first glance, they vary markedly in size and ear and jaw characteristics. “In Azuay, we have bats living at elevations ranging from a few hundred to almost 3,000 meters, so we have many bat species.”
Zárate says that bats play an important role in the local ecology, pollinating plants and controlling insect populations. “Most of us don’t think much about them, but they are essential to our eco-system. Life would be difficult without them,” he says.
Argument almost grounds Cuenca – Quito flight
Lan airlines almost cancelled a Cuenca-bound flight from Quito Thursday night as a result of an argument between passengers and flight crew regarding an electrical problem on the aircraft.
The on-board electrical system had failed twice as the aircraft prepared for take-off. It returned to the gate and after repairs were made the pilot announced that the plane was again ready for departure. About 30 of the 140 passengers demanded to get off, claiming that they did consider the airpline to be safe. Others demanded more information about the repairs. Once the passengers deboarded, the argument continued in the concourse with other Lan personnel.
After the deboarded passengers were informed that Lan would not reimburse them for the flight, most returned to their seats and the flight continued without incident, arriving in Cuenca two hours behind schedule.
Lan said that its policy is to cancel flights if they feel that onboard incidents endanger passenger safety.
Photo credit: The new bus transfer station on Av. Las Americas