MAY 2 saw the long-awaited start of revenue services on Quito Metro Line 1, the first metro line to be built in Ecuador.

The 22.5km Line 1 runs from Quitumbe, south of Quito city centre, to El Labrador in the north. There is a total of 15 stations along the line, 19.49km of which is underground. 

Opening of the line has been repeatedly delayed. An official inauguration ceremony was held on December 21 2022 in anticipation of preview passenger services beginning on January 5 and revenue services starting in early March. However, problems with the QR code ticketing system delayed the start of preview services until January 23, delaying the start of revenue-earning services until May 2.

Reports suggest that 180,000 people travelled on the line during the preview period. Nevertheless, the MercoPress news agency reports that the first day of revenue service did not run smoothly, due to shortage of ticket office staff and failures in the system for printing QR code tickets.

These problems reportedly led to numerous passenger complaints and MercoPress quoted Quito mayor, Mr Santiago Guarderas, as saying “there are inconveniences that will be polished to offer, in a short time, an impeccable service.”

A map of the 22.5km Quito Metro Line 1, running from Quitumbe, south of the city centre, to El Labrador. Picture credit: Antonio Eco/Wikipedia Commons

Quito Metro Metropolitan Public Company (EPMMQ) said in a statement that passenger demand at Quitumbe station on the first day had been triple that experienced during the preview phase, and this had played a part in the problems with the sale of tickets. It added that “the necessary corrective measures are being taken so that [sales on] following days will be carried out with agility.”

The network is not yet operating at full capacity, as six of the 15 stations have not opened. Trains are also operating to a reduced timetable during the peak periods of 07.00 to10.00, and from 16.40 to 19.30. However, it is hoped that full operation of the line will help to alleviate some of the chronic road traffic problems to which the Ecuadorian capital is prone.

In July 2022 EPMMQ selected a consortium of Metro Medellín of Colombia and Transdev to operate the line under a six-year contract. CAF has supplied a fleet of 18 six-car trains, each formed of four motor cars and two trailers and capable of accommodating up to 1500 passengers. The overall journey time over the line from end to end is 34 minutes.

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