The suspension of public transportation services, including the Urban Train and the Metropolitan Bus Authority (AMA), during the crisis due to the coronavirus pandemic (Covid-19) has caused income losses of around $ 4.8 million.
In the case of the Urban Train, the losses are at $ 600,000 per month, but the executive director of the Integrated Transportation Authority (ATI) and the AMA, Josué Menéndez, explained that the amount increases to $ 3.6 million when the losses estimated in these six months that have elapsed since the decree of the state of emergency.
While in the case of the AMA, from March 16 to June 30, the loss of income was estimated at $ 760,000, and between July 1 to September 30 the figure rose to $ 440,000, for a total of $ 1.2 million, Menéndez explained.
“They are their own income. They are used for the same infrastructure for both the (urban) train and the AMA. That is a loss that you have, but it should also be noted that under the Cares Act, there are some items that come to remedy those losses, but in terms of work, because the work is done. This is a loss that obviously I have to review because it is true, but from the work as such, the work is done, “the official told THE SPOKESMAN.
Under the Cares Act, the federal stimulus that was offered to the states and territories of the United States to correct the ravages of the pandemic, the urban train and buses were assigned $ 21 million each.
“I think the AMA was the first entity to oblige those funds. The urban train is in that process, but that comes to remedy additional expenses such as disinfection, tests, all this operational part, which is an additional cost, ”he said.
One expense incurred by both the AMA and the Urban Train is maintenance. Menéndez indicated that the maintenance of the train has a monthly cost of $ 2.5 million. However, 80% of those funds are covered by federal grants. In the case of the AMA, the annual maintenance cost is around $ 9 million.
Thousands use the services
Regarding the number of people who use public transport, the official said that the average per day of the Urban Train is 18,000 passengers. In 2019, a total of 5,235,638 passengers used this means of transport.
“In the case of the AMA, it should be noted that what is stopped is a regular route because (the Call and Travel Program) never stopped. In the case of the regular route (of the AMA), the approximate number of (use) is 340,000 people per month, which translates into 2.8 million people who use it per year ”, he added.
In the case of the Call and Travel Program, it is estimated that 7,000 people per month use the service, and it is estimated that annually 84,000 citizens use the program, which is a complementary service to the AMA’s regular routes, which provides transportation to people with physical and / or mental impairments that cannot board a regular bus.
No restart date
There is currently no date for the restart of the Urban Train and the regular routes of the AMA. To questions from THE SPOKESMAN Regarding whether the issue of restarting operations has been discussed, Menéndez explained that “what we do is that we provide the information, that particular detail is discussed with the secretary (of Public Works) and the Executive. I don’t go into that detail exactly. Obviously they always let us know that we must be ready as soon as possible. “
On July 6, the AMA buses began operating on six of the seven core routes, which collect the largest number of passengers, after three months out of operation due to the pandemic. On that occasion, First Transit, which operates the Metrobus, Metro Urbano and Tu Conexion vehicles, as well as the Urban Train, a collective transport that operates between the Bayamón and Sagrado Corazón stations, in Santurce, also restarted its work.
However, Governor Wanda Vázquez Garced once again suspended mass transit services as part of Executive Order 2020-054. Since then, services have been suspended.
What do employees do?
Menéndez explained that most of the employees have continued working and collecting, just like the other public workers.
The AMA has nearly 600 employees, but there are approximately 140 who are transient and not working day to day. “The rest of the staff are working. Those 140 are regular route drivers, “he said.
Total payroll spending for the Urban Train is $ 1.1 million per month, while in the AMA it is $ 4.3 million per year.