Quito’s new subway system, the Metro, begins its second week of passenger service

Dec 13, 2023 | 0 comments

Quito has become the sixth capital city in South America with a subway rail system when it resumed operations on December 1.

The system, called the Metro, had officially been inaugurated on December 21, 2022, with passenger services beginning in May 2023, but technical problems and political disputes shut the line down again after only nine days.

Quito’s new subway system, the Metro, began operations two weeks ago.

The 22.6km, 15-station line, running from Quitumbe to El Labrador barrios, has a capacity of 400,000 passengers per day. It operates with a fleet of 18 six-car trains.

The end-to-end journey time from Quitumbe to El Labrador is 34 minutes, representing a saving of one hour and 30 minutes on the same journey by car or bus. Services operate on Line 1 from 05.30 to 23.00, Monday to Friday, from 07.00 to 23.00 on Saturdays and between 07.00 and 22.00 on Sundays and public holidays.

The single line system is operated by the EOMMT consortium of Metro Medellín of Colombia and Transdev under a six-year contract awarded in July 2022.

Plans for a metro in Quito were first laid out in 2010 after it became obvious that the city’s bus rapid transit (BRT) network was running at peak capacity, and that neither it nor other modes of public transport could be developed to provide additional capacity.

Construction started in 2016, with civil works undertaken by Acciona. Signalling was supplied by Bombardier (later Alstom) while Siemens was responsible for the traction power supply system.

Line 1 has been built at a total cost of $2 billion, plus undisclosed overruns, financed by the European Investment Bank (EIB), the Development Bank of Latin America, the Inter-American Development Bank, and the World Bank.

According to the World Bank, Quito’s Metro will provide safer and more reliable journeys for those depending on public transport and especially women, as senior transport specialist, Alejandro Hoyos Guerrero, writes in a comment on one of the World Bank’s blogs.

“The majority of people are used to squeezing into old buses, with unreliable operation,” he writes. “The people of Quito people had a prevalent perception of insecurity and discomfort in public transport.”
Measures to improve passenger safety include the creation of a metro police force, as well as the installation of help points and CCTV.

“December 1, 2023 marks an important milestone in the history of public transport in Ecuador, with the start of commercial operations on the very first metro line in the country,” says Transdev CEO, Thierry Mallet. “With its route and the connections it provides to other transport networks, this metro has become the new backbone of public transport in the capital.”

Another municipal rail system began operations two years ago in Cuenca, Ecuador’s third largest city, began operations in May 2021. The 10-kilometer above-ground system was constructed by Alstom.

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