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San Salvador to overhaul public transport system with help from IDB

IDB loan of $45 million will be used for the construction of a mass transit corridor, relieving congested streets of the Salvadoran capital

The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) today approved a $45 million loan to help El Salvador design, organize and implement an integrated public transportation system that will cut travel time, transportation costs and traffic accidents across the San Salvador Metropolitan Area.

The project aims to improve public transit and general traffic in the San Salvador Metropolitan Area. It will help structure the city’s public transport sector, providing sustainable mobility opportunities and safe transportation for the population as well as enhancing economic and social development.

The project calls for 5.3 km of preferential lanes dedicated to a high-capacity bus service, which aims to cut travel time by 20 percent along the Soyapango-Metrocentro corridor. Boosting accessibility and overall attractiveness of the service, the new transportation system is expected to transport 200,000 passengers per day in 2014, compared to 160,000 in 2011.

In addition to the segregated bus lanes, a mixed traffic corridor of approximately 2.5 km will be implemented. Sidewalks leading to the integration terminals and stops along the corridor will facilitate access by pedestrians. Feeder routes from outlying neighborhoods and peripheral towns will connect with the trunk route at the newly-built Soyapango terminal, increasing passenger volume and effectiveness of the service.

An integrated fare system covering both the trunk corridor as well as the feeder system will make the service affordable for poorer segments of the population, increasing their access to the job market. Fares will be collected on the basis of prepaid cards, rendering cash redundant and making public transport safer for both citizens and bus drivers.

The four-year project includes training activities for current bus operators, who will be granted operation of the high-capacity buses on a concessional basis. An operations control center will schedule and control the buses, regulating the supply provided by bus operators.

The IDB loan has an amortization period of 25 years with a grace period of 4 years and a LIBOR-based interest rate.

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