According to Cuenca city councilman Xavier Barrera, the best way to develop plans to ensure passenger safety on the city’s new tram system is to talk to people already operating similar systems.
Barrera was part of a group of Cuenca officials who visited France last week to see how cities with light rail systems deal with a variety of safety issues. “Our big advantage is that we have time to develop plans before the travía is operational. We can talk to people who operate the systems in France to learn from their experience,” he said.
Cuenca’s Travía de los Cuatro Rios is being built by the French transportation and technology giant, Alstom.
A top safety priority, Barrera said, is to prevent robberies on the train. “This is a big problem in areas of France with high crime rates,” he said. Based on recommendations of French officials, Barrera said Cuenca will post citizen guards at tram stations while others will ride with passengers. “We will also use plain-clothes police and have surveillance cameras in every station and every tram car,” he added.
In addition to crime prevention, the Cuenca group talked to their French counterparts about ways to minimize accidents with vehicles and pedestrians along the tram route. Cuenca’s Citizen Security Council is developing a traffic signage program to reduce accidents. At some busy intersections, Barrera said, it may be necessary to install drop-down gates to stop through traffic.
The Council is identifying potential trouble spots along the route that will require higher levels of attention and is developing regulations for fare payment and station controls to prevent accidents.
According to Barrera, the city’s biggest challenge will be educating the public about the tram. “This will be our biggest task and will ultimately determine how successful the tram system will be.”