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Start of Quito Metro subway service delayed

Cuenca isn’t the only city facing delays in the start-up of its mass transit rail system.

A rail car for the Quito Metro.

On Wednesday, Quito Mayor Jorge Yunda announced that the Quito Metro subway would not begin operations until March or April 2020, and possibly later. As recently as last month, former Quito mayor Mauricio Rodas had insisted that the system would begin service in November.

According to Yunda and Quito Metro general manager to Jorge Yáñez, a “substantial amount of work” remains to be done before the $2 billion, 22-kilometer system can begin serving passengers. “We are currently at the 85 percent mark for completing all aspects of the project,” Yáñez said. “In addition to finishing construction of the passenger platforms, many of the programs, such as safety, operator training and maintenance, need to completed and put into place before we can consider full operations.”

In April, Rodas said that the project was 93 percent complete. “Obviously, we have some differences with the projections of the previous government but we are working hard to overcome them,” Yáñez said. “The delays in a project this size are understandable and we refuse to rush to a finish until we are confident we are ready.”

According to Yáñez, the city will soon announce the contractor who will handle day-to-day operation of the system. “The winner of the bid will be responsible for managing a staff of 500 employees as well as establishing operational procedures.”

As in Cuenca, the Metro fare remains to be determined as is the amount of funding needed to subsidize the system.

In an interview with the Quito newspaper El Comercio, urban planner Fernando Carrión maintains that the Metro route was poorly designed and will create traffic congestion in areas of Quito where it was intended to provide relief. He suggests redesigns to several of the passenger plazas but concedes that most of the remedial work will have to wait until after the start of operations.