Despite months of driving the 22-kilometer route of Cuenca’s new tram system, its conductors will need to go through another training phase before they can legally operate the train. Mayor Pedro Palacio said Thursday that former mayor Marcelo Cabrera and his staff ignored the special licensing requirements of the National Transit Agency (ANT).
“The claim that they had successfully completed the training is incorrect,” Palacios said. “What they did was important but all the train operators must complete the requirements for the ANT Type-E license, which they have not done. This was ignored during the earlier training.” The Type-E drivers license is new, intended specifically for operators of the tram and Quito’s subway system.
The tram went through a series of “live” tests from November to April, which included training for its drivers.
According Cuenca municipal councilman Cristian Zamora, the city could have been legally liable had one of the conductors caused an accident during the tests. “We could have had a big problem if one of the drivers was at a fault since they were technically not licensed.”
Before leaving office, Cabrera defended the lack of licensing saying that the ANT had not finished defining the requirements for the Type-E license and that they were not yet available.
On Friday, new tram director Jorge Espinoza said there was no target date for the beginning of operations. “The seven-month time frame for the beginning of service provided by the mayor was taken out of context. It might take more time and it might take less,” he said.
In addition to the conductor licensing issue, legal disputes with the original and current project contractors remain to be resolved, Espinoza said. “Both of these are in mediation and moving toward resolution but we do not know when that will happen and, until it does, the tram does not legally belong to the city of Cuenca.
Other unresolved issues involves reaching an agreement with city bus companies who object to giving up some of their routes and modifying others to support tram ridership.