Cristina Williams Butler resumed her workday approximately a week and a half ago. He works in Piñones in Loíza and lives near the Medical Center in Río Piedras. Until yesterday, he was paying about $ 25 just for the one-way trip from his home to his job, as he was dependent on public transportation, which was detained due to the closure by the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19).
That is why today he received with joy the news that the Tren Urbano had restarted its services and immediately began using it. "I do not have a car and I work in Piñones, it is very brutal to use Uber," said the 27-year-old, after entering the train car at the Medical Center station. "It was too expensive," he added regarding the private service compared to the amount of $ 1.50 he paid to get to the Sagrado Corazón station in Santurce. There I would take a bus from the Metropolitan Authority of Buses (AMA) that would take it to Piñones.
"Now I can save my money, I don't need to spend as much to get to work," she said happily. Around noon the traffic was slow and few people were observed in all the train stations. On a round trip from Martínez Nadal to the Sagrado Corazón station, there were never more than seven people inside the car.
At 8:00 a.m. Today, some 600 people had used the train, a decrease of 89% compared to this same day in 2019, with about 3,000 passengers, said the director of the ATI and the AMA, Josué Menéndez.
"We expected that . You have closed universities, closed shops, it was announced yesterday and we started today (the train transport service). We understand that gradually we will be receiving more participation from the public, ”said Menéndez. At the train stations, hand sanitizer was placed, once the passenger swipes his card to use the service.
Information bulletins were also placed on measures to prevent the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. No one can enter without a mask, but social distancing depends on each of the train users. In the wagons all seats are available. Upon arrival at the Sagrado Corazón station, ATI personnel entered to disinfect the cars once the passengers left, especially the areas of greatest contact, such as the handles on which people place their hands. This would be repeated every time the train completes its route.
Regarding the AMA, Menéndez said that the flow of users had also been slow. This service started at 5:30 in the morning with seven (trunk routes 2, 4, 5, 7, 9 and 37) of the 24 routes. At noon, additional routes had been added, until reaching 16, said the director. “It is a gradual, staggered operation. The other seven routes run by First Transit, which operates the Metrobús, Metro Urbano and Tu Conexión vehicles, also restarted their services today.
Only 50% of total occupancy will be allowed on the AMA buses, no one You can use the service without a mask and there will be hand sanitizer when boarding. Several passengers confirmed that they observed these preventive measures in the buses. According to the AMA, in guaguas the drivers will be in charge of not allowing more than 50% occupancy, while passengers would be suggested to sit down leaving seats in between.
Although in general terms, the passengers of the train and of the buses were pleased that the public transport service had been reactivated, some were dissatisfied with the confusion regarding the routes that were available and those that were not.
“The orientation was not good. Better orientation regarding the buses that are working ”suggested a user of the service while waiting for a bus at the Sagrado Corazón terminal. The older adult reported that she had to walk from Condado to Stop 18, because route 21 – the one she generally uses – was not available early, but around noon she saw a bus traveling that route, which caused confusion and discontent in that aspect.
A similar experience related Jenny Ozorio, who was at the AMA terminal outside the Martínez Nadal train station in Guaynabo. There I would take route 8 towards Río Piedras, at the restart of operations of the public transport service, but the bus never came.
“I had not been transported anywhere, simply when friends invited me, who have a car own, then it did come out. Now, waiting for the bus to arrive. Magnificent, because it was necessary, ”said the 68-year-old woman, before learning that this route was not in service today. At least Jenny found another option, which was to use the train until she reached the Río Piedras station, although she regretted that she would have to walk a greater distance to reach her final destination, which was the Paseo de Diego.
Other people in Martínez Nadal was waiting for the public transport service that the Municipality of Guaynabo operates. "The flow of participants, a little slow, but it is what people adapt to again," Jorge A. Ríos, driver of one of the buses, told this newspaper, while explaining the security measures that were observed at interior of the bus.
The seats were marked with red and yellow ribbons. It is oriented to passengers that nobody can sit in the red, as a strategy to maintain distance between service users. In addition, no one can enter without a mask, passengers take their temperature and hand sanitizer is put on them.
“When the unit empties, I have to go seat by seat disinfecting the unit, before the participants get on again, the bus is already disinfected, "explained Ríos.