Cuenca News

Requirement for new buses delays fare increase; Six of seven companies have signed agreement with city

Although six of the seven bus companies that provide Cuenca’s municipal bus service have signed an agreement that will raise fares from 25 cents to 30 cents, the hold-out says it objects to a requirement to replace its buses with a new European model.

Euro 5 bus required by new city contract.

Ricaurtesa says its objection is not to replacing old buses with new ones, but with the model of bus designated in the contact with the city.

Leonardo Albarracín, president of the Chamber of Transportation, which represents all bus companies, says Ricaurtesa’s objection is justified. “The contract specifies that carriers purchase buses with Euro 5 technology to reduce the emission of CO2 gases,” he says. “The trouble is that the diesel fuel available in Ecuador will not allow these buses to operate efficiently. The fuel here is much dirtier than that used in Europe and Ricaurtesa is concerned that the buses will need frequent repairs as a result.”

Albarracín is requesting that the federal government certify that the type of diesel fuel supplied to bus companies will be compatible with Euro 5 operating standards.

Albarracín says that all Cuenca bus companies, including Ricaurtesa, are prepared to purchase new buses. “I agree, however, that we need the fuel issue resolved,” he says.

The city contract requires carriers to replace all 475 buses in the fleet within 21 months. Each new bus costs $120,000.

Albarracín says he will continue to work the city and federal government to resolve the fuel issue.

According to a recent study by the University of Cuenca, 60% of the population uses city buses, taking 407,585 passenger trips per day.

  • Galileo

    First they should require bus drivers to post their names, photos, and license in a visible location. They should make successful completion of safe and comfortable driving course for all drivers mandatory.

    • ecexplorer

      Why do we always insist that we should on Ecuador?

      • Galileo

        Because.

  • LadyMoon

    Is the consideration of electric busses a ‘bridge too far’?

    • StillWatching

      Sadly, electric buses cost more than twice as much as the diesels they replace, not to mention the capital outlays for the charging systems the electric buses would require. Long range thinking like you are suggesting is just not part of Latin culture. It is a shame because the benefits in terms of noise and pollution reduction would be enormous.

      • ecexplorer

        Not a bad idea but the prices of riding would have to increase to cover costs. But, because LadyMoon is often whining whenever something costs more than she approves of she wouldn’t like that result.

        • StillWatching

          In the words of coffee merchant, John Arbuckle, “You get what you pay for”

          Of course fares would have to increase to cover the costs. The citizenry would have to decide if the increased costs would be justified by cleaner air and less noise pollution. In this short sighted culture, that may be a hard sell, but I hope that statists don’t seek to hide the costs of running public transportation facilities by subsidizing the operating costs. Only fools can’t see that the ultimate source of those subsidies are tax dollars of the citizens, so one way or another, the people will pay.

          • lorenzo

            I can tell that you understand Ecuadorian culture better than most people who read/comment on this site. That’s why I’ll never understand why you support a subsidized tranvia system that will not fit into this culture for many years to come.

            • StillWatching

              The list of things you will never understand grows daily. That doesn’t motivate me to respond to the things you will never understand.

              • lorenzo

                Good answer! Now put on your engineer’s cap and go play pretend choo-choo train.

                • StillWatching

                  THAT, I will do.

    • James Snow

      Are CNG powered buses considered? Over 20% (and rapidly growing) of municipal buses on USA run on much cleaner CNG, and the buses themselves are only slightly more expensive than diesel powered buses to buy.

    • Ken

      Wish they could go Electric.
      Typically, electric buses cost about $300k more than diesel buses.
      From a financial perspective, the savings associated with fuel (cost of diesel vs. cost of electricity) and with bus maintenance more than offsets the higher cost of electric buses including the cost of the recharging infrastructure over the 12-year lifetime of a bus – based on USA fuel prices.
      Of course in Ecuador – with subsidized fuel prices, Ecuador has Diesel for only 38% of a typical gallon of Diesel in the USA.
      If you factor in the resulting
      health benefit to the populous of the city from the reduction of respiratory and other diseases it becomes even easier to justify the upfront cost of the electric bus.

  • StillWatching

    Albarracín is right. Requiring the Euro 5 buses without providing the fuel they need to run properly is simply foolish. More short sighted thinking.

  • “There is no project that would not benefit from additional planning.” When reviewing several building projects I said this, though I’m certain I was not the first! Perhaps the Ecuador and Cuenca economy, and residents alike could benefit three ways by selecting electric buses.
    BYD electric bus maker states they will build a plant in Ecuador, as they have recently done in USA. See estimate of 300 jobs in busworld.org article 3279.
    While the sticker price of an electric bus is higher, and electrics won’t handle some steep routes, why not a discount electric rate, putting Ecuador’s abundant hydro-electric power into urban transit, while releasing Ecuador’s petroleum energy resource to earn foreign exchange?
    Yes, our planet, and all who dwell thereon will welcome lower CO2 emissions of E-5 buses. We in Cuenca should inquire about E-5 diesel particulate emissions. Now (and here), fine particulate contamination (PM2.5), with diesel a major offender, causes 24 premature deaths annually. Particulate pollution costs the Cuenca economy $8.4 million/yr (0.35% of regional GDP) according to 2015 World Bank study, The Cost of Air Pollution: A Case Study for the city of Cuenca, Ecuador – 98546.
    It appears that an electric bus pilot project, with support from Ecuador central government, has passed from Cuenca to Loja. Cuenca had considered (Cuenca HighLife, Nov 11, 2016) buses that use fast charge technology, and energy recovery, resulting in 90% less energy use than a standard diesel bus ($200,000 estimated savings over life of bus). Search Fastest Charging Electric Bus cleantech.

    The type of bus selected will open opportunities, and opportunities will be lost. Planning bus replacement should serve the health of Cuenca residents, and it should have the best impact on the economy here in the Cuenca area and in Ecuador.

  • Sueetta Joyce

    Thought the push was to replace these gas driven, exhaust belching machines with electric buses. What happened to that plan? Electric buses would be much better in every way when replacing existing buses.