Getting around Cuenca is fairly simple using 4 wheels, 2 wheels, or 2 feet. Last week, I discussed using cars, taxis, and light rail for daily transportation. Today, I will tell you about using buses, bicycles, and walking.
The bus system in Cuenca, or Moovit, is quite extensive and up to date. There are 475 buses crisscrossing the city until about 10:00 pm. Like the Tranvia system, you buy a $1.75 card to which you add money. Purchase your card at one of 4 offices in the city, and later look for a red sign in shops where you can go in and add money to your card. There is a map showing where these stores are and a map of the routes at the tourist office opposite Parque Calderon.
Get on the bus at the front, swipe your card for a $.30 ride, and exit toward the rear. The stop names are announced on each bus. The integration of one card you can use on both the Tranvia and the buses has started to take place and will be fully developed as the year proceeds.
Each bus has signs in the front showing a route number along with the start and end points. The Moovit system operates with an interactive app which you can download to your phone or computer.. The system can suggest routes to destinations of your choice. You can select your route, find stops, determine how long your trip should take, and even learn how far you will need to walk to your destination after departing the bus. Wi-Fi is available on the bus for you to use your app when traveling.
Bicycles in Cuenca are very common as the city fathers have been very proactive constructing bike lanes throughout much of the city. Called ciclovías, these bike lanes parallel major roads and run alongside the rivers. They often double with pedestrian paths, so the bike rider must be careful when coming upon a walker. These bike lanes may be cement stretches or gravel paths, and more lanes are being improved or added continually. Riding a bike is one way to combat the congested streets.
Don’t have a bike? No problem. Bike rental stations are scattered throughout the historic district and popular parks. Join the BiciCuenca program for a low fee and then pay a quarter for a 30-minute ride or $10.00 for a full day. First, register at the BiciCuenca office along the Tomebamba River and deposit $8.00 for a card you can use at any of the rental stations. A secret is to pay the quarter for a 30-minute ride, check the bike in and then pay for another 30-minute ride. Otherwise, a 60-minute ride is 75¢ or $2.00 an hour thereafter.
If you download the app, you will be able to see the amount of money on your card and find the number of bikes available at the stations. After your ride, simply return the bike to any station.
The cheapest and most scenic method to traverse Cuenca is to walk. Cuenca is mostly a very easy walkable city, as much of it is flat with only a few hills, while steeper hills lie outside the city center. There are, however, stairways between 80 and 90 step leading from the Tomebamba River up to El Centro. A couple of these have ramps in addition to the stairways. Three of the rivers have walkways running alongside in park-like settings, often with children and adult exercise equipment for your use.
Cuenca’s sidewalks are not uniformly constructed as many of these are old and may have broken pavement, holes, or other obstacles with which to contend. Consequently, these sidewalks are challenging for the impaired or those needing a wheelchair. Other stretches are newer and a pleasure to walk.
In Ecuador, pedestrians do not have the right of away. At corners, it is essential to look for turning cars before stepping into the street. Legally, you may jay walk with care.
However you chose to get around in Cuenca, you will have a positive experience, see the sights, and easily get to your destination. Cuenca is one of the safest cities in South America, which allows you to have an even better exposure to the city.
Fact: Cuenca employs a team of 1000 people who keep the streets and sidewalks clean, 7 days a week
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