Operational Issues

The User Experience


Despite their importance to metropolitan public transportation service and their intense utilization, CETRAMs suffer from a range of problems, widely recognized by users, authorities, and academics (GDF, 2014a). Their inadequate design and infrastructures, poor administration, lack of maintenance and proper signage, disorganized informal commerce, and extreme crowding lead to congestion, disorder, and high levels of insecurity (GDF, 2014). The entrenched dominance of the semi-formal colectivos and large informal vendor organizations makes government intervention difficult (GDF, 2014b).

The user’s experience is exacerbated by the lack of coordination among operators and the frequent duplication and competition among routes. Most CETRAMs operate essentially like large parking lots, with drivers waiting for several minutes until their vehicles fill to their capacities before leaving the station (Medina, 2012). The result: a long and uncomfortable transfer experience — the average transfer time at a CETRAM is 14 minutes — (PUEC, 2013), further burdening already lengthy commutes. Users report absence of police, lack of protection from the weather, excessive informal commerce and inadequate walking infrastructure as their main concerns with CETRAMs, which are one of the worst evaluated public services in the city (PUEC, 2013). Additionally, CETRAMs’ negative impacts, like pollution and insecurity, spillover into surrounding neighborhoods (ITDP, 2014; GDF, 2014a).


Common problems in CETRAMS: