Cuenca Mayor Pedro Palacios said Wednesday that delays in production of electronic passenger cards mean the tram will, most likely, continue to be free until at least mid-October. “Because we had a very late start in the process, we need more time to produce the cards,” he said.
He blamed the delay on bus owners and the previous city administration. “This issue of integrating tram and bus service should have been settled in 2015 but we have been stuck with resolving it, which delays the start of commercial tram service,” he said in a radio interview. “We had to resolve the ownership question of the Movilízate card, which was disputed by bus owners. The system was paid for and is owned by the city but it took months to convince the owners.”
Separate electronic cards are being produced for buses and the tram, Palacios said. “We had hoped to have one card but that is not possible due to all the delays,” he said adding, “The consolidation will have to happen in the future.”
Palacios said the two cards will look similar, with the Movilízate logo, but with separate chips for buses and tram. “The cards will indicate if they are for the tram or the bus to avoid confusion,” he said.
Bus fare is 30 cents while tram fare will be 35 cents, with a discounted rate of 17 cents for senior citizens, students and the disabled.
On another topic, the mayor said that additional city personnel have been assigned to the tram to maintain social distancing. “Maintaining the Covid health protocols has been difficult because of the popularity of the system,” he said. “We have received many complaints, all of them justified, that passengers were crowding into train cars and not keeping acceptable spacing. We regret that we are leaving some passengers on the platform but this is necessary to maintain public safety. Trains come every 10 minutes so they won’t need to wait long.”