Quito ETBs, August 2001 Presently two lines are in operation: C1 (for “Circuito 1”) and C2 are operating under overhead. C1 runs from La Ye, or the Wye, (North Station, near the airport) to El Recreo (South Station). C2 continues in as southerly direction from La Y to Morán Valverde. Fare is US$0.20 (the US dollar is legal tender in Ecuador) and seniors, handicapped and children pay half fare “upon presentation of proper credentials”, as the sign on the change booth says (apparently, gray hair or a pair of crutches are not proof enough of age or infirmity). Fare collection is automatic, and the machine gives change for $0.25 coins. The machine automatically unlocks the turnstile and gives no ticket. It also has a slot to take a fare card, but I saw nobody use one. No food or drinks, no animals, no smoking, no radio without earphones. OK. But. There is a TV operating at the bus stations, the radio plays on some bus’s sound system and snacks and sodas can be bought inside some bus stops. The automatic doors on the shelters are not operating at most stops. Looking over the driver’s shoulder, I saw no instruments for the electric drive (no voltmeter or ammeter). There are three pushbuttons for the diesel engine’s transmission (D, N and R). While under electric power, the transmission is in neutral. On the right side of the main control panel is a small box with an LCD display, numbered buttons and some buttons identified with arrows. It seems to be the remote control for the overhead switches. There is a diagram on the box, resembling a tree, with two horizontal roots merging into a vertical trunk with one branch to the left and then dividing into two symmetrical branches. I later realized that this looks like the overhead at the entrance to the South Station, where lines from the north and from the south join (the “roots” on the diagram), the slip switch and a second switch, allowing access to two platforms and a destination unknown. However, all the buses I saw entering the station drop their poles and enter and exit under diesel power (malfunctioning overhead switches?). On the buses, a small gray box is mounted behind the right windshield with a cable leading into it. Could it be a radio or infra-red transmitter to activate the overhead switches? Poles are lowered by air cylinders controlled from the driver’s seat. The retaining hooks are also powered and lean to the side to allow the poles to seat and then move back. Once the hooks are in place, the air cylinders release the poles into the hooks. The process is reversed to raise the poles. No retrievers are used. The driver carries a pole (which must be assembled from three sections) with a hook to use in case of a dewirement. On leaving the South Station, the buses stop in a box painted on the pavement, the driver raises the poles (there are tent shaped rewiring devices about 1 or 2 meters long over the wires at this point) and turns off the diesel. Too bad that there are no electric instruments. I would have loved to know how much current the bus draws when climbing some of the really steep streets. (I could probably research this and do some calculations) Cruising speed is 45 km/h and about 35 on the steepest hills. 20 is posted max when passing under overpasses where overhead clearance is very low. There seem to be two series of buses. The older ones have scroll markers (reading “Municipalidad del Distrito Metropolitano de Quito”) and the new ones have dot matrix markers (“Troles de Quito”, “Trole Tour” or “Audio Bus”). Also, the older ones have a cage on the roof housing part of the electrical system (resistors?), the newer buses have a closed box about twice as large. From the numbers on the buses, I guess they are now up to 120 units. The main shops are behind the South Station, crossing the old Guayaquil & Quito RR tracks. Access is by diesel only, no wires. Inside, there are an automatic washer, tire repair shop, inspection pits, covered work bays and a 100 meter section of overhead, presumably to test the buses. Watching the articulation bellows work from inside, as well as from outside the bus is impressive. Pavement is quite wavy in many places, causing the bus to pitch notably and some of the minimum radius corners down town must be seen to be believed. Most of the time the buses run on their own lane of the avenues. In the old center of the city, they just run on narrow streets closed to other vehicular traffic: constant use of the horn warns the unwary pedestrians and bicyclists of imminent danger. With the Andean’s calm, they observe the approaching bus, decide that prudence is the better part of valor, and slowly and reluctantly give way. Overhead is mostly supported by concrete posts and cross arms (often one arm supports wires for both direction) or by span wires from wall to wall downtown (sidewalks are so narrow that a post would occupy a substantial part of their width). At the South Station, fabricated steel masts carry long span wires, which support the lines. The masts resemble those used by the German RR for their catenary. After the various colors used on the first buses (yellow, green, red or blue combined with white) blue and white now seems to be the color of choice. Line C3 or “Eco Vía” is now in operation. I was told that this line will operate with diesel buses with doors on the left, using high platform island bus stops (something like Bogotá’s “Transmilenio” diesel bus service). Until the new buses are delivered, service is with ETBs running on the left, with poles retracted and with diesel power. A real hazard for pedestrians crossing the street, despite warning signs. I wonder how many Quiteños have been sent off to the other world, courtesy of the “Eco Vía”.