The Azuay Provincial Court has ordered turnstiles on city buses to be removed by end of October. The July 10 ruling cannot be appealed.
Installed in most buses when the new charge card and exact change procedures went into affect in January, the turnstiles have been the focus of criticism from groups claiming that they were inconvenient and even dangerous for the handicapped, the elderly, children and pregnant women.
Ivan Granda, an official with Cuenca’s ombudsman office, said the will work with public transport companies to make sure the order is carried out. “When the turnstiles were installed, the effect they would have on the disabled and others was not fully understood,” he said. “After seeing the devices in operation, we now know that they create a hazard for some people.”
WEEKEND POLICE PATROLS CONTINUE ON CALLE LARGA AND AVINEDA REMIGIO CRESPO
Despite protests from some restaurant and bar owners, police are continuing weekend operations on Calle Larga and Av. Remigio Crespo, to reduce traffic congestion and to discourage underage drinking.
On Thursday, Calle Larga bar and disco owners met with Cuenca’s public safety director Jorge Valdivieso and chief of traffic control Mauricio Gutierrez to ask for an end to weekend barricade of parking lane on the street. Although Valdivieso said he would consider the request, he said keeping the lane open was a matter of public safety.
“Vehicular and pedestrian traffic are heavy from Thursday to Saturday nights and we need to be able to respond in case there is an emergency,” he said. “For example, if there were a fire and the street is not open, we could have a major tragedy on our hands.”
Once a relatively quiet street after dark, Calle Larga has become a popular bar and disco scene in recent years, creating traffic problems.
ECUADOR TOURISM NUMBERS REMAIN STABLE DESPITE THE BAD ECONOMY
While tourism in many parts of the world is showing a sharp decline due to the global economic crisis, it remains relatively stable in Ecuador.
According to Ecuador Tourism Minister, Verónica Sion Joss, tourism in the first half of 2009 showed only a .5% decline from the same period in 2008. “We are encouraged by these numbers and believe the second half of the year may surpass 2008,” she said. Joss added that one of the reasons for the numbers is that Ecuador is one of the world's least expensive destinations.
According to Joss, the U.S. is biggest source of Ecuador’s tourist, with about 120,000 visiting the country from January through June. Colombia is second with 76,000; Peru third with 74,000; and is Spain fourth with 28,000. Other countries sending large numbers of tourists are Chile, Great Britain, Canada, Argentina and Germany.
The most popular destinations for tourists, according to the tourism office are Quito, the Galapagos, Cuenca and the coast.