Projects for public transportation in San Miguel
By Jesús Aguado
Concessionaries of public transportation in San Miguel informed that the urban rate of a bus ticket could go from five to six pesos in 2014. They also assured that the public transportation in San Miguel is one of the best in Guanajuato and the users should feel safe when they travel. Eleazar Romero, head of the local Traffic Department, as well as some licensees of the urban transportation, spoke to Atención.
Orange line, from illegality to the regularization
In the mid 1950’s the public transportation service did not exist at all in the city. There was just a bus transporting people from Jalpa to el Centro at 5am and from the Centro to Jalpa at 5pm. At that time, there was also a bus taking people from Los Rodríguez to el Centro and vice versa along an earth road. That line belonged to Ponciano Hernández.
Delfino Piña, president of the Asociación de Transportes Urbanos y Suburbanos de San Miguel de Allende A.C, said that in 1958 he owned a tire company on calle San Francisco. That year, don Luis Ferro de la Sota was operating some buses in the city, but later offered them to Delfino Piña, who did not hesitate and bought them, although the urban transportation, remembers Piña, was not profitable at that time — people did not use it and preferred to walk. There were some services leaving from colonia San Antonio to el Centro, from el Seguro on salida a Dolores to el Centro, and there was a bus which used to transport people from colonia Allende to the upper area of the city.
Piña, who was one of the pioneer transporters in the city and ironically now owns the smallest company in San Miguel— the orange line — said that although the buses he bought had the plates to operate, they were illegal, but he worked in their legalization and got the concessions in 1968. At the time, the transportation was not profitable “maybe that was the reason why they sold me the buses, people preferred to walk and we had to invite them to get the bus for free in order to get them used to it,” he said.
The orange line, represented by Piña, owns 11 buses, and it has the longest route, which goes from colonia Allende to colonia Jardines 2, transporting an average of 4,500 people every day. Their current fare is five pesos. The 2006-2009 administration authorized the line to increase the rate from four to five pesos, but until 2010 this line did not charge more than four pesos. Later, due to the increasing price of diesel, they increased the rate to five pesos. A few years ago, said Piña, they were fined for charging a lower price, but after a legal process they proved that they were not breaking the law by charging less than the other lines. “We could transport people for free if we wanted,” remarked Piña.
At the end of 1990, when don Luis Ferro de la Sota was the mayor of San Miguel, the city started growing in the upper area and there was a proposal for authorizing more taxis for transporting people, but later, asserted Piña, because he made public some bad management of public resources by Ferro´s administration, the mayor tried to put Piña’s line out of business by authorizing a new route of buses instead of taxis.
“Our line has not grown because there is a lot of corruption in transportation matters,” commented Piña. This highlights that the public transportation in the city is politicized and the local administrations, since 2002, have used it just in their own favor, he said. For that reason, Piña continued, in the 2006-2009 administration the local government tried to regularize transportation in the city, but it was incorrect, because they did not count the licensees of the orange line, in order to benefit the blue line, represented by Gustavo Carrillo, who was also city councilor at that time.
Purple line, the most effective
Transportes Insurgentes de San Miguel de Allende is identified by its purple line; it is represented by Jesús Murillo. The route (which leaves from Mesones to colonia Ignacio Ramírez and colonia Jardines one and two, including the city hall building) started operating 25 years ago and daily transports more than 20,000 people. Murillo commented that this is one of the fastest and most effective lines in the city, because it leaves its base on calle Mesones every six minutes “and never fails” he said. Murillo assured that their bus drivers are nice and well trained, and the buses are in the best conditions.
From junk to best vanguard
The blue line is the biggest in the city, and it connects most of the colonias with the Centro, including el Malanquín, connected by the yellow line. This was one of the last concessions granted by the state government, in 1992. At that time, the city started growing in all cardinal points and the service offered by the existing lines was not enough, so the government authorized the new line, which has grown more than the others. The first buses of this line looked more like junk than buses, said Carrillo, but they were improved as time passed. According to Carrillo, the public transportation service in San Miguel is better than in cities such as Guanajuato, Irapuato or Salamanca.
This union is made up of 30 licensees and includes 55 buses. The whole line includes 73 buses but some members left the association and are controlled by the Traffic Department. The line transports more than 30,000 people daily. Carrillo acknowledged the public transportation in the city is politicized, which happened since 2002, when the control of the concessions was handed over to the local administration. And when the lines support candidates, there are compromises after the election. “It is not bad to be involved in politics and support a candidate; we have participated four times and lost one election,” says Carrillo. Nevertheless he made it clear that “we ask benefits for all the licensees, not just for our line.”
The representative highlighted that if they have the biggest company in town it is because they have had vision and have followed the growing of the city and have been visionaries when they present proposals of new routes in order to benefit the sanmiguelenses.
This company is the only one that has added technology to its buses. In 2009 they added a bar that included a GPS, which helped the owners of the buses to know the exact number of passengers transported by the bus as well as its location, this was with the goal of improving the service, but due to internal problems the bars have not operated since 2012.
Eleazar Romero, director of the Traffic Department in the municipality, confirmed that public transportation is one of the best in the state according to the State Traffic Department. He highlighted that it is very safe to travel in the urban buses because a vehicle inspection conducted every six months proves that the buses are in the best mechanical conditions, the operators are well trained and have insurance to protect the passengers.
The local government, commented Romero, is working with the Guanajuato Secretariat of Economy on a new model of electric and panoramic buses, which would cost one million and a half pesos approximately, but would be more appropriate for a World Heritage City. This proposal will be presented to the transporters in the months to come. The department is also working on a map of routes that will be displayed at bus stops and will be printed for tourists. Another proposed project is the formation of a San Miguel transport company, which would apply a transfer system which would make journeys cheaper for users.
Another project is the increase of the cost of transportation from five to six pesos in January 2014. Carrillo commented that there is an agreement with the city council that allows them to charge 5.50 pesos since 2009, but they have not applied it. Murillo commented that they presented some proposals to the city council in order to increase the rates. The city council has not yet approved it.
The representatives of the transportation acknowledged that the municipality has asked them to change their buses for smaller ones, but that won´t be possible they said, because the current vehicles that they use measure 8.30 meters and if they change them for those that measure seven meters, they would have to use two buses (14 meters) instead one of eight meters to cope with the number of passengers.
Complaints about public transportation are received in the 066 system.