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Cuenca plans to eliminate diesel buses in El Centro by 2022 but bus owners object

The Cuenca transportation office has released plans that would eliminate diesel-powered buses from the historic district within four years. The plan, prepared by Quito-based transportation consultants León and Godoy, would add a fleet of 30-passenger electric buses to the district, complimenting tram service.

Cuenca’s tram system will provide all east-west service under the new plan to eliminate buses.

Under the plan unveiled Monday, Daniel Cárdenas, city mobility services director said the tram would provide east-west service in the district while the electric buses would run north and south, connecting to train platforms. Electric buses would also provide services between Feria Libre and several stops on Av. Héroes de Verdeloma.

Bus companies are objecting to the plan, saying it limits service to the public and violates a recent agreement to upgrade the bus fleet.

Electric buses such as this one will provide north-south service in the historic district.

“We are shocked by the proposal and were not consulted in its development,” says Leonardo Albarracín, president of the Cuenca Transport Chamber, which represents bus owners. “Not only does it punish public transportation customers who will have to walk further to bus stops, but it affects the financial stability of bus operators. We agreed in good faith to buy new buses to increase efficiency but this was based on maintaining current routes.”

In a deal signed earlier in the year, bus owners agreed to replace existing buses with more efficient diesel-powered models in exchange for a bus fare increase of six cents.

Albarracín added that owners had already agreed to eliminate several east-west bus routes through the historic district as a result of tram operations.

Cárdenas said that the plan to reduce or eliminate diesel buses has been known for years. “Since planning for the tram began, we have been in development of an integrated transportation system throughout the city,”  he said. “Now, we are beginning its implementation. The city’s master plan calls for rejuvenating the historic district to attract tourists and new residents and the 2022 plan is part of that.”