As part of preparations for Cuenca’s new tram system, city transit agents will begin handing out traffic tickets to drivers who park or drive on the train tracks. The operation will cover the entire system but will focus on the historic district.
Agents will also caution pedestrians to cross the tracks at crosswalks, not in the middle of the block.
“We’re getting close to the time when the train begins operations and the public needs to be educated about the rules,” says city Tranvía project manager Jaime Guzmán. “Most of the signage is already in place and we will be adding more to remind motorists and pedestrians of the rules.”
Beginning Monday, transit agents will ticket violators with fines ranging from $38.60 to $57.90. Ticketed drivers will also be assessed point deductions on their drivers licenses.
“When the tram begins running, the consequences of breaking the law can be fatal,” Guzmán says. “When 60 tons of rolling stock moving at 20 kilometers an hour makes contact with a car or human being, bad things happen. Our program is intended to keep this contact to a minimum.”
Among the most common driving violations to be targeted, says Adrián Castro, the city’s transportation chief, is parking on the tracks, even temporarily. “Cars that are parked on the track will be removed immediately and towed to the city holding yard,” he says. “Besides paying to recover their car, drivers will be fined $38 and lose three points on the drivers license.”
He adds that drivers who double-park on the tracks to drop passengers or pick up merchandise will be fined $57.90 and lose four points on their licenses.
In addition to fining drivers and cautioning pedestrians, the city is mounting a public information campaign about tram rules. “We will concentrate on instructing school children,” says Guzmán, “In Centro, the train runs next to or within a block of five schools and it is critical that the students understand and obey the rules.”
Guzmán says the safety campaign leading to tram operations is being directed by European consultants who have worked with mass transit systems similar to Cuenca’s.