Quito, Dec 21 (EFE).- The stations of the Quito Metro – Ecuador’s first underground transportation system – opened to the public on Wednesday, although initially no trains will be in operation.
In an interview with Efe, the top executive of Empresa Publica Metropolitana Metro de Quito (EPMMQ), Efrain Bastidas, recalled the planning, organization and perseverance required to bring this project to fruition.
He said he was pleased with the results, adding that the Metro will open “in different induction phases” so passengers can acquaint themselves with its infrastructure and services.
Guided tours will be offered to Quito residents in the first phase to provide them information about the stations, which Bastidas said are extremely large and can be confusing to new users.
Through Jan. 4, local residents will be able to learn how to navigate the stations and obtain information about the infrastructure, equipment and signs. The trains will not operate for that two-week period for technical reasons.
Trains then will start running on Jan. 5 for users who create an account online and download a courtesy pass, while commercial operations will kick off in March.
Ahead of the inauguration of the first stage of the Quito Metro, which was built by Spanish conglomerate Acciona at a cost of more than $2 billion, Quito Archbishop Alfredo Jose Espinoza blessed the trains in a ceremony at the southernmost station of Quitumbe.
The second phase will start on Jan. 5 and allow users to move from one station to another free of charge.
Bastidas recalled that the Quito Metro will be operated by EOMMT S.A.S. a consortium made up of Metro de Medellin (Colombia) and France-based public transport operator Transdev, and has a series of safety features, including cameras and a security agreement with the National Police.
The senior executive said 280 police officers will be permanently assigned to the stations and trains.
Construction of the Quito Metro, which will have a single line running 22.6 kilometers (14 miles) from north to south and have 15 stations, began in 2013.
It will have 18 trains and provide service in densely populated sectors of the capital.
“Since the system has the capacity to grow further, we could continue increasing the fleet of trains until reaching capacity to move more than 1 million passengers per day on the Metro alone,” Bastidas said.
Passengers traveling only on the Quito Metro will pay $0.45 per trip, while those wanting to use the city’s integrated public transportation system (subway and road transport) will pay $0.60 per trip.
Once in full service, the hours of operation will be from 5.30 am to 11 pm. EFE