Cuenca Mayor Marcelo Cabrera says he remains committed to establishing an integrated transportation system, with a single fare, for buses, the tram, and bicycle rentals.
In an interview Wednesday with the editors of the El Tiempo newspaper, Cabrera repeated his earlier pledge to begin the tram fare at 35 cents, with those over 65 and students from six to 18 riding free. He said the 35 cents fare depends on daily ridership of 65,000 and that it could be increased to 50 cents if ridership falls short.
“The ultimate goal is to have one fare for the tram, buses and bicycles, all paid by the new transport card,” Cabrera said. “We want to establish this as soon as possible but at the beginning of tram operations we will charge a little more for the train.”
The mayor would not commit to a deadline for full system integration.
Construction of tram infrastructure will be completed in October, Cabrera said. Several months of system testing will follow with the system opening to the public in March 2019.
He said that bus fare will increase from 25 cents to 30 cents within two weeks. “This was approved several months ago by the council but it’s application has been delayed by issues about the proper kind of bus fleet replacements and fuel,” he said.
Cabrera said that his vision of Cuenca’s transportation system includes more than buses, the tram, and bicycles. “I am still committed to the bypass freeway,” he says. “We are working to create a public-private partnership to build the project. Once this is complete in the municipal council, we will announce the financiers. There is a company that wants to finance 100% of the project, recovering its investment through tolls.”
According to early estimates, the freeway, designed to circle the city, will cost at least $700 million, making it one of the largest public works projects in Ecuador history.
In other comments, Cabrera said that the system of megaparks is progressing satisfactorily. “This system will provide hundreds of hectares of green space and recreational facilities for the people of Cuenca. The public will see concrete progress very soon, with the opening of Parque Libertad and the new San Francisco Plaza before the end of the year.”