A dispute with bus operators has delayed the opening of two transfer stations and changes to bus routes. The new bus system involves using the stations as transfer points, which the city says will be more efficient.
Originally, the city said the transfer stations would be operational at the end of July or early August. The stations are located near Terminal Terrestre on Av. España and on Av. Las Americas near the Fiera Libre market.
According to Mayor Paul Granda, municipal carriers are concerned that the new routes will reduce ridership, although Granda says he expects to reach a resolution soon.
“I expect problems to be worked out quickly. We have to modernize our transport system to accommodate growth,” Granda said.
One benefit of the new bus routes, according to Granda, is a reduction of bus trips through the historic district. The city transportation office estimates that 100 trips a day will be eliminated in the district.
Plans developing for the city’s ‘informal traders’
Cuenca city government is working on a plan to manage the growing number of street vendors. Often referred to as “informal traders,” the vendors sell fruits and vegetables, cooked food,jewelry and household goods.
The vendors are continuing point of contention with other vendors who pay for space in city markets as well as storefront businesses. City officials are also concerned about food quality and the blockage of sidewalks.
“Informal traders are part of our culture and they are not going away,” says Jean Christophe Lloret, spokeman for the city. “On the other hand, we have to create rules that are fair to everyone.” Lloret said the city plans to create a registry of street vendors.
The registry will require all vendors to have identification documents and will establish a system of communication. Lloret said that the plan involves relocating some vendors to specific locations around the city. The wheel barrow vendors who sell fruit in El Centro, for example, will be moved to areas around city markets.
City tourism numbers show growth
Tourism in Cuenca is trending upward, according to tourist office officials and hotel managers.
Several hotels report that they have been full for much of the June, July and August and say they expect to see above average occupancy through the rest of the year. The period around the Cuenca independence holidays, in early November, is the busiest time of the year for hotels and tour agencies, according to hotel managers.
Most visitors to Cuenca are Ecuadorians, particularly from Quito, Loja and Guayaquil, the tourist office says, although they report increasing numbers of European tourists, espcially from Germany and France.
The major attractions, say officials, are Cuenca’s historic district, Cajas National Park, the Inca ruins at Ingapirca, and the craft towns of Gualaceo and Chordeleg.
Photo caption: New bus transfer station on Av. Las Americas