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ATI Slated To Roll Sept. 30

Campaign To Raise Public Awareness About Island’s Integrated Transportation Alternative System To Intensify


August 7, 2003
Copyright © 2003 CARIBBEAN BUSINESS. All Rights Reserved.

The new mass-transportation system developed by the Department of Transportation & Public Works (DTOP by its Spanish acronym), called the Integrated Transportation Alternative (ATI by its Spanish acronym), will start operating on Sept. 30.

ATI integrates the Urban Train, the Metropolitan Bus Authority (AMA by its Spanish acronym), and the Mini Buses (public carriers) to provide transportation to most of the greater San Juan metro area. Among the cities that will benefit from ATI are Cataño, Bayamon, Guaynabo, Trujillo Alto, Carolina, Caguas, San Juan, Loiza, and Toa Baja.

As part of DTOP’s efforts to inform the public about ATI, the first of a three-part publicity campaign was launched in June.

"The first part of the campaign, which is almost over, basically explained ATI," Highway & Transportation Authority Executive Director Jack Allison told CARIBBEAN BUSINESS. "The other parts of the campaign will give information about the AMA, Urban Train, and Mini Bus routes."

The idea, said Allison, is to start informing the public now so that they are prepared when ATI becomes operational at the end of September. The second phase of ATI’s campaign starts this month, and will provide more-detailed information about routes, said Allison.

"As part of ATI, there will be new AMA routes added that will connect to Urban Train stations. In time we will also eliminate existing routes that parallel the Urban Train’s path," said Allison.

New AMA buses will be integrated into the system, all of them equipped with a radio, a global positioning system (GPS), and a debit-card payment system. These devices, said Allison, will make AMA buses run more smoothly and more conveniently for passengers.

As for the Mini Buses (public carriers), DTOP has identified an initial 20 suburban routes for these under ATI. Some of the routes are already operational and intersect with AMA or Urban Train stops. Other routes have been changed to cover additional areas and cross AMA and Urban Train routes, said Allison.

"The number of Mini Buses will increase and shorter, faster routes will be added to the system," said Allison. "Like the AMA buses, Mini Buses will be equipped with radios and a GPS device, which will allow the AMA Communications Center to know their location at all times." DTOP is investing $5.6 million to install GPS in all AMA and Mini Bus vehicles that are part of ATI.

Mini Bus drivers will receive incentives to ensure them guaranteed earnings since they will operate during off-peak hours, something they don’t normally do now. Additional incentives will be given for the upkeep of the vehicles and to safeguard passengers’ safety.

As reported by the media, the Urban Train, ATI’s main component, has been plagued with numerous construction delays and cost overruns. Not all of the Urban Train’s 16 stations will be operational by Sept. 30.

However, Allison said those that aren’t ready by that date don’t necessarily connect with AMA or Mini Bus routes, so their absence won’t have a major effect. "The amount of time these stations won’t be operational once ATI begins operations will be minimal anyway," said Allison. "A two- or three-month delay isn’t significant."

To ease the public’s concerns over the Urban Train’s delays and their possible effect on ATI, Allison stressed that ATI won’t become operational until all of its components are running safely, even if that means pushing back the Sept. 30 deadline.

"ATI can’t work unless all its components—the Urban Train, AMA, and Mini Buses—work together in a coordinated manner. An integrated mass-transportation system can’t work if the components are working individually," said Allison. "ATI won’t become operational until all of its components are running and running safely, whether that’s on Sept. 30, Nov. 15, or any other date."

All ATI components will operate seven days week, including holidays, from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. The operating hours can be extended for special occasions, noted Allison.

The entire ATI awareness campaign is estimated to cost $500,000 according to Allison. Most of the ads will run in the print media, although some will appear on the Internet, television, and radio.

As part of DTOP’s orientation campaign, groups of local students will be invited to visit Urban Train stations to see how ATI works. Cyclists wishing use ATI will find bike racks on AMA buses and behind the last car of each train, said Allison.

Other Cities with ATI programs





Buenos Aires


Los Angeles



New York



San Francisco

Santiago de Chile


Local Transportation Statistics At A Glance

•3.8 million inhabitants on the island

•2.3 million automobiles in Puerto Rico

•For every 1,000 people, there are 617 automobiles

•146 vehicles per mile of road

•4,300 vehicles per square mile, the highest density in the world

•1.4 million metro-area residents generate 3.2 million trips a day

•63% of the jobs are in the metro area

•It is expected by 2010, the number of daily trips will increase by 45%

•The Metropolitan Bus Authority transports 120,000 passengers a day

Source: Department of Transportation & Public Works

This Caribbean Business article appears courtesy of Casiano Communications.
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