Proposal to Return Public Transport to Loja after Quarantine

May 12, 2020
COE Cantonal would approve protocol for return of urban transport

If given the approval in the next 8 days, 30% of the buses in Loja would start running. Increase in service will happen gradually. For this, Loja needs to change to a yellow light.

For many sectors, returning to the performance of their activities is essential, especially transporting people to their jobs. Public transport (buses, taxis) and mixed services (truck cooperatives in parishes) are at the threshold of resuming their work if Loja’s Cantonal COE today approves the protocol that was presented for their return to activity.


Nixon Granda, deputy mayor of Loja, stressed that in his commitment to the citizens and, of course, to the transportation unions in the canton, knowing of the difficult situation we are going through, he has been talking with the different transport leaders, as well as with the departmental directors who regulate this sector, and with the institutions related to public health.

Under these circumstances, he said that they have been working on a protocol in order to restart public service in urban, rural, mixed commercial public transport (which exists in the rural parishes of the canton) and the taxis. Granda commented that initially 2 protocols were presented: for commercial transport and for public transport, but at the suggestion of the Technical Health Committee, they were asked to carry out only one. To achieve this, the Deputy Mayor indicated that they have had the support of officials from the Private Technical University of Loja (UTPL) and from unions and public institutions.

He said Mayor Jorge Bailón requested he lead the writing of this protocol, with the support of the Municipal Transit Unit and the Consortium of Urban Transporters of the City of Loja. The proposal was submitted for the consideration of the Technical Board of Health, which last Saturday met with professionals who integrated their recommendations. Among the suggestions of the Technical Board, Granda revealed that while the state of emergency lasts, on public transport only people from 17 to 64 years of age may ride; children will not use public transport because they do not attend school in person.


With the protocol, these local authorities foresee that public transport will not return to a ‘new normality’ because, Granda clarified, the city will return to the way public transport was before the emergency. For this, it is clear that a process must be entered, which demands the sacrifice and predisposition of transporters, because citizens must understand that the value of transport and careers was regulated by the supply and demand existing in our system and for the capacity of passengers to be carried on buses and taxis.

With the new stage of social distancing, Granda says that although it sounds difficult, within public transport units it is necessary to find a way that this can be accomplished despite the complexity. In this way they have worked on it and according to the vice-mayor in the Municipality, the units are ready to go out to operate.


Granda explained that the transport units will have to comply with daily general sanitation procedures which the Municipality will oversee. Also, after each trip the drivers must carry out a disinfection before continuing their work, and they must carry a biosecurity kit that includes a manual pump and quaternary ammonium. Personnel must be duly protected with bio-security supplies, and each unit must have a foot-bath to disinfect footwear, as well as a device for passengers to have alcohol or gel for cleaning their hands.

He added that at the beginning it will not be possible to use all the seats of the bus, this according to the technical report that the Municipal Transit Unit gave him, that indicates which bus seats may be used. Granda noted that with regard to bus stops, not all will be in operation at the start. Loja, having buses with doors in the center (being the only city in the country to work like this), has indicated places where you can catch the bus. Enclosed stops will not be used until COVID-19 is more controlled or the Health Board establishes where the enclosed stops can be used. Although it has not been included in the protocol, Granda indicated that the carriers have taken the initiative to place a cabin that isolates the driver from the users.

SITU card

Priority will be given to the use of public transport with a card, since all the units have the device to comply with the transfer of the payment of the ticket through this mechanism that was presented months ago, added Granda. On this matter, he said that a 15-day period is being granted for the local council to issue an ordinance in which it is obliged to use the card for urban public transport in the city of Loja. This implies that in a couple of months that you have the cards for the entire citizenry, the only means of payment on the buses will be the card.

Resume activities

In the beginning, the authority notes, service will not resume with all the buses, but will start with some of the routes. Eventually, all the lines will be added back into the schedule.

Initially, 30% of the urban transport vehicle fleet will start, and as the rest of the activities in our city open up, the majority of buses will also have to be normalized to provide the service.

When does the transport return?

Granda reiterated in the meeting that they held with the Technical Health Board, where the go-ahead was given, he reported, additionally, the placement of sinks (equipped with soap) at the busiest stops for bus users that prevent the virus from spreading. The drivers of the units will constantly take their temperature and the Municipality will support them with daily sanitation.


Granda says service must start as soon as possible, so today a technical committee meets to give the final verdict on the protocol presented, and tomorrow the Cantonal COE will decide when activities will begin a trial run in this time of transition.

The Deputy Mayor foresees that in no more than 8 days this would be ready, taking into account that it is necessary to make the jump to the yellow traffic light so that the buses can work until 18:00 [6pm], ending the 14:00 [2pm] curfew that is part of code red.

Compliance check

With regard to compliance standards set forth in the protocol, Granda stated that the first to collaborate should be the citizens, helping to use the seats provided; on the other hand the driver is obliged to no longer carry more passengers once the bus has reached the allowed limit and; finally, the Municipal Transit Unit, through agents and inspectors, will comply with supervision on the routes.

Mixed commercial transport and taxis

He concluded that for the trucks that serve in the parishes and for the taxis, the protocol is focused on their compliance with the security measures that are almost the same as those in force previously, because there is a high demand from people who use informal vehicles that do not provide a biosecurity guarantee. Hence they propose that taxis and vans be allowed to work according to the odd and even format for their license plate number. All taxis must have the biosafety cabin to divide the driver's compartment from the users. Additionally, they are implementing a QR code to scan and get to know all the biosafety measures taken in the unit, as well as a record of the driver and the people who used the taxi.


Given the possibility of changing the traffic light so that the urban transport service can start operating, Pablo Castro, district director of Health, commented that his suggestion to the Cantonal COE is to still wait until analyzing how It goes with the statistical record of cases.

Precisely on the protocol he presented, he noted that they have analyzed it and have given suggestions, passing the pertinent observations to the Deputy Mayor so that later the Cantonal COE approves it. On whether it is prudent for public transport to return, Castro said that personally for him it is not, and he would wait a little, at least until he sees what happens in 15 more days.

Story and photos: Ecotel


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