In an interview with the El Telegrafo newspaper, Cuenca Mayor Marcelo Cabrera said Monday that the tram will be completed and that negotiations with the city’s bus companies will reach a successful conclusion before he leaves office in 2019.
In addition, Cabrera said that expansion of the Cuenca’s park system will continue, providing citizens with more green and recreational areas than any other city in Ecuador.
“We continue to make progress with mass transit and the results of this will be evident next year when the tram begins operations,” the mayor said. “We will have an integrated transport system that will improve the lives of all Cuencanos. The tram will have a very large carrying capacity and when bus routes are coordinated with it we will see an increase in efficiency throughout the public transportation sector.”
Cabrera conceded that negotiations with bus company owners have been protracted but insists that an agreement will be reached that will replace the current bus fleet with more efficient, less polluting models. “The [municipal] council has already agreed to a fare increase and this will go into effect once other agreements are reached with the carriers,” he said. “We have instituted the country’s first fare payment system that works entirely by electronic cards and anticipate many other upgrades to service.”
He added that the trial of all-electric buses earlier this year were successful and said he believes that eventually the city fleet will convert to electric.
Cuenca’s parks and green areas program has grown dramatically in the past three years, Cabrera says. “Within the central city, the new San Francisco Plaza and Liberty Park will open to the public within months, enhancing the quality of life for everyone, including tourists. In addition, we continue to expand our mega-park network, adding green areas along our rivers and on the urban periphery,” he says.
Cabrera conceded that his plan to deliver 5,000 new homes to the poor is falling short of its goal. “We have completed or, are in the process of completing, 1,300 houses and hope to start more in the coming months. This is less than we had wanted but the financing market has been difficult to work with,” he says.