In town to attend a meeting of the Latin American Network of Strategic Urban Development, Medellín, Colombia vice-mayor Alvaro Berdugo urges Cuenca to think big when it comes to solving transportation problems.
“When you make transportation plans, consider the impact it will have on the public life of the city,” says Berdugo. “You need to build a network that not only moves people from one place to another but brings them together. Latin Americans are a very social people and creative transportation solutions can serve to benefit this,” he said.
Berdugo praised Cuenca’s tram system, currently under construction, and said that it should eventually be expanded to serve more of the city. “City leaders should persevere to see the current project to completion and then expand it. The tram can be a true hub for public life of your city,” he said.
He added that Medellin would not have a world-class train system without city leaders dedicated to the project. “We had to wait years for the funding but we finally found it and began to construct our system.”
Pointing out that Cuenca, like Medellin, is a city surrounded by mountains, Berdugo suggested the city install a system of cable cars to bring people into the city. “I can see a cable car coming down from Turi, into the city and connecting to the train and bus lines,” he said. “Obviously, the train cannot go everywhere but innovative solutions, like cable cars, solve the problem.” Medellín is currently expanding its existing network of cable cars, he said.
Berdugo said that the tram and buses should be only a part of the transportation system. “Improve the sidewalks and streets for pedestrians and add pedestrian malls,” he said. “This strengthens social ties within the community.”
Berdugo suggested that Cuenca look to Barcelona, Spain as an example of what can be done to solve transportation problems. Barcelona uses a tram similar to the one being built in Cuenca.