As part of the Cuenca independence celebration, city transportation officials invited the public to ride the new tram and about 500 obliged on Tuesday.
The ride was not long or fast, as the train moved up and down a 1.7 kilometer stretch of Av. Las Americas at maximum speeds of 10 kph. Among those taking the ride were dozens of city, provincial and national officials, as well as Cuenca’s Mayor Marcelo Cabrera, staff members from the French Embassy, and newly elected beauty queens.
Riders reported that the ride was smooth and comfortable and said they believed the tram would be popular with the public. “It’s wonderful,” said Caty Iglesias. “Once they have taken a ride, all the people who opposed it will change their mind. I just wish it was ready to operate now.”
Cabrera said that overall, the project is 55% complete and that it should meet the completion deadline of July 2016. Once all work is complete, he said, there will three months of tests before the system goes into service.
Still to be resolved is a $17.8 million budget shortfall for additional work not foreseen in the original plans. “We are in discussions with the government about this,” Cabrera said. “If those talks are not successful we will go to other sources for the funding.”
This tram projects was budgeted for $231.5 million, of which $174 million comes from the federal government with rest provided by a loan from the French government.