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Ecuador News

New tracking system allows transit police to monitor bus speeds and locations

Following a rash of deadly bus accidents in August and September, the National Transit Agency (ANT) has established a GPS-based speed monitoring system for public transport buses. Although it began operations only 10 days ago, the ANT says tracking equipment has already been installed in most of the country’s 11,400 intra- and inter-provincial buses.

An overturned bus south of Vilcabamba. Police say the cause of the accident was excessive speed.

In addition to monitoring bus speed, the system also shows locations and can observe such details as whether a bus is traveling on a curve or a straight-away and whether it is passing another vehicle. According to the ANT, the system can be used to ticket drivers and bus companies for speeding or reckless driving.

Since the new systems went into operation October 28, ANT says there have been no fatal bus accidents. It also reports an 86 percent drop in the number of non-fatal accidents in last week’s four-day holiday weekend compared to the same period in 2017.

“So far, the results have been dramatic,” says ANT director Álvaro Guzmán. “The technology of the system, which includes video cameras and GPS devices in vehicles. gives us the ability to track behavior that causes accidents. The objective is simple, to protect and save lives.”

Guzmán says that monitoring equipment has been installed in 95 percent of buses. “We are impressed with the compliance by transit companies. The remaining buses have until the end of December to complete the installation.”

According to Guzmán, the system creates an enhanced level of awareness among drivers. “They know they are being watched and this makes them reconsider risky driving behavior.”

A union of bus drivers in Guayaquil has publicly complained that the new system is an “invasion of privacy” but has not filed an official complaint. Bus companies say they support the system.