Cuenca Mayor Marcelo Cabrera says the city will announce the fare for Cuenca’s new tram system within a matter of weeks. “I hope we can make a determination by the end of December but if we can’t, it will be done early in January,” he says.
According to Cabrera, a final figure depends on negotiations with the French manufacturer of the tram, Alstom, which will provide maintenance for the system for the first two years of operations. The maintenance contract is the last unresolved issue before the train system begins public service in March, the mayor says.
The city’s tram project manager, Jaime Guzmán, announced earlier in the year that the fare would range from 35 to 50 cents. “Besides resolving the maintenance contract, the cost depends entirely on ridership,” he says. “Our consultant estimates ridership will average between 35,000 to 60,000 per day in the first year of operation, the lower figure requiring the higher fare. We are in the process of refining the estimate.”
The consulting firm, León Godoy, says that ridership, worldwide, on new mass transit train systems is almost always lower in the first year of operation but increases as the public becomes aware of the advantages over other means of transportation. “We have no reason to believe that this will not be the case in Cuenca but we are currently focusing on the first year of operation,” a Godoy spokesman says.
Even if the city decides on a 50 cent per ride cost, passengers may still pay 35 cents. “The mayor is considering providing a subsidy, if necessary, and he will discuss this with the municipal council,” Guzmán says. “This is a public service, not a profit-making one, so using taxpayer money to support it is legitimate. We currently provide a subsidy to the bus system to support reduced fares for students and the elderly.”