Historic district store owners are objecting to the new city government’s delay in the start of tram operations. Last week, Mayor Pedro Palacios said it could be as much as seven months before the train begins passenger service.
“We have waited for years for this project to finished, we have suffered and seen our friends go out of business, and now they tell it will be months more before operations begin,” says Luis Delgado, a tienda owner on Mariscal Lamar. “This is not acceptable and we demand expedited attention.”
City planning director Jorge Espinoza says the delay is the result of unfinished administrative issues that must be resolved before the train can open to the public. “The seven month figure of the delay is an estimate and we hope we can resolve the issues sooner,” he said. “We learned from the mistakes of the last administration and will not provide exact dates of when operations will begin.”
Among the issues to be resolved, according to Espinoza, is the resolution of a dispute with the contractor that is currently in mediation, the passage of safety ordinance and tram fare by the municipal council, the integration of bus service with the tram and the signing of a maintenance contract. “These should have been resolved before now but they were not,” he says.
Delgado says that meetings are planned in the coming weeks and his group plans meetings with city officials to determine how the beginning of tram operations can be speeded up. “We will talk before we protest but we insist on getting action,” he says.
Municipal councilman Xavier Barrera agrees that the seven-month delay suggested by Palacios is too long. “Yes, there are things to be resolved but I think this can happen in a much shorter timeframe. I understand the frustration of the merchants. This is an issue that the council will consider.”