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.
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.