New Quito mayor calls emergency meetings to restore service of the city’s new subway system

May 17, 2023 | 9 comments

Quito’s new mayor, Pabel Muñoz, held a series of meetings Monday and Tuesday aimed at resuming service of the city’s subway system, the Quito Metro. On Thursday, May 11, less than two weeks after the Metro opened to the public, the company operating it suspended service, citing infrastructure problems and contractual violations by the city.

The Quito Metro sits idle as talks between the city and the system operator begin.

“I was not provided good information about the problems and do not understand all the issues,” Muñoz said Monday. “All I know is that we must make corrections quickly to restore service. The Metro is the biggest construction project in the country’s history and it cannot sit idle.”

In a statement following suspension of service, the Medellín Metro Operating Company said its action was based on safety concerns for passengers and equipment. “Several Metro stations are not operational as are electronic systems needed to fully operate the system,” it said. “In addition, despite promises, we have not been given authorization to fully access the stations, the collection system and other Metro facilities.”

According to Medellín Metro, access to all Metro systems was part of the agreement it signed with the municipality of Quito.

During the nine days the Metro was in operation, there were numerous failures of the ticket sales system as well as break-downs of escalators and other infrastructure at the stations. Several stations remained closed to the public due to various technical problems.

The city Metro office apologized last week to the public, calling Medellín Metro’s decision to end service “unacceptable” and said talks were on-going to restore service.

Began in 2010, the Metro and Cuenca’s tranvía, were the two largest transportation projects in Ecuador’s history, costing $2 billion and $320 million respectively. Both systems suffered lengthy construction delays but the tranvía began service in 2020 and has operated successfully since then, experiencing a rapid increase in ridership.

“The tranvía shows that these systems can function as they were planned but we must resolve the operational issues promptly,” Muñoz said. “I pledge to the people of Quito we will get the train back on the tracks as soon as possible.”

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