A Dialogue on Mobility in Ecuador

November 14, 2014


Progress on the construction of Line 1 of Quito's Metro.

World Bank

The collaboration of the Bank in this Non Lending Technical Assistance has enabled an arrangement to support improvements in urban public transportation, road safety, airport infrastructure, and pro-bicycle programs in Quito and Cuenca, Ecuador. As a result, a comprehensive urban transport finance guide, or White Paper, as well as a Bicycle-inclusive Planning Operational Manual have been developed as a resource for municipalities and national governments around the world.


Ecuador’s transport system faces structural problems, which undermine its reliability and performance. Limitations of connectivity and access, particularly in remote rural areas contribute to economic and social exclusion, limiting economic, social, and health outcomes. The poor quality of the road networks hinders the country’s competitiveness and historic underinvestment in rail and ports limits the development of tourism and other correlated economic activities.

Despite progress in the road sub-sector, since 2006, limited mass transport services in urban centers affect productivity and create a trend towards a high-carbon motorized urban footprint.

To address this infrastructure gap, the Government has undertaken significant reforms. Enhancement of the planning and management of transport systems and increased investments in infrastructure are critical to maintain the sustainable growth of urban centers.

At the provincial level, medium-sized cities need to enhance sustainable mobility and accommodate increases in the number of cars on the road, improve road safety, eliminate bottlenecks, and improve access to the city for all.



The Bank has provided technical assistance in planning, design, and policy to the municipality of Cuenca, bringing international best practices to strengthen the municipal Government’s capacity to incorporate cycling as a mode of transport. In Quito, the Bank has supported investments to expand and upgrade the urban public transport system, including the construction of an underground Metro line, through an investment lending operation with a central government guarantee for the Quito Metro line One Project.


An important product of this technical assistance is the White Paper  “Sustainable Urban Transport Financing: Capital, Operations, and Maintenance Financing for the Sidewalk to the Subway.”, in which different ways of financing transport infrastructures are addressed under a general perspective, which can be useful for any city around the world. This report has been presented on several occasions in Ecuador, and other places such as Mexico, Brazil, US, among others.

In addition to the White Paper on sustainable urban transport finance, the NLTA supported the following activities:

  • Four workshops between June 11 2012 and July 15th 2013.
    • The workshop event “Hacia Ciudades Seguras, Sostenibles e Incluyentes,” held 14 y 15 de junio de 2012 in Cuenca – Ecuador.
    • The workshop “Taller de Planeación Estratégica – Implementación Proyectos de Transporte Urbano,” held June 13 2012, in Cuenca, Ecuador.
    • Cycle- Inclusive Planning
    • Bike Sharing: Implementation and Scheme for Cuenca
  • The event "Biciturismo de los Sabores de Cuenca," designed to enhance the use of the bicycle in Cuenca, highlighting the gastronomy and culture of the city, and presenting the city of Cuenca to an international audience.
  • Improvements of technical, operational, commercial, and financial aspects at the Mariscal La Mar Airport.
  • A bicycle-inclusive planning operational manual, culminating with knowledge sharing cooperation and guidance for other cities.
  • Review of the designs of projects underway and resolution of crosswalks to improve road safety
  • Improvements in the preparation of procurement documents for the first automatic public bicycle system in Ecuador.

Bank Group Contribution

The program served a as a leveraging resource to enable outcomes from other Bank-supported projects, such as:

  • The Quito Metro Line One Project.
  • Manta public services improvements.
  • Ibarra transport infrastructure improvements.
  • Advances in traffic safety, focusing on data aspects.
  • Just-in-time assistance on the commercial and revenue enhancement aspects of airport safety.


The Quito Metro Line One Project was co-financed by the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB), the Andean Development Corporation (CAF), and the European Investment Bank (EIB). Collaborating Partners included but were not limited to the Ministry of Finance, Municipality of Quito, Municipality of Cuenca, Ministry of Transport and Public Works, Ministry of Planning & Development, Ministry of Coordination. To promote donor harmonization, coordination meetings took place with the Government of Spain, the IADB, and the CAF. Further, as CAF has developed a regional urban transport observatory, particular attention will be paid to leverage ongoing efforts and use of available data.

Moving Forward

As this program is demand driven, new deliverables can arise from the collaboration between entities in Ecuador and the World Bank, based on new needs and changes in government structure or policies. Possible future activities could scale up efforts incorporate cycling infrastructure on a wider scale and develop estimates for the potential for carbon footprint reduction through greater use of bicycles. The technical assistance also envisions analytical work to support more energy efficient mobility, as could be incentivized with the reduction of fuel subsidies proclaimed in the Plan Nacional del Buen Vivir

Within the traffic safety field, new possibilities may arise through partnerships between the Bank and those municipalities that already have improved traffic management, enforcement, and control (i.e. Cuenca, Ibarra, Manta, Ambato and Loja). Technical assistance would facilitate further learning and experience exchanges between cities within Ecuador and elsewhere. Finally technical assistance could leverage resources from ongoing operations seeking to mobilize additional trust fund resources.   


Beneficiaries include the staff and experts from the Municipality of Quito, the Municipality of Cuenca, and the Ministry of Finance. In addition, the Government and urban infrastructure finance experts benefited from the workshops, especially the staff from Cuenca dedicated to non-motorized mobility. Operational staff from the Airport Corporation of Cuenca also benefited.

A more effective and cycle inclusive planning process will also improve the lives of residents and tourists of Cuenca.

Manuel Larriva Carrera, who lives in Cuenca, and works for EMOV_EP (Empresa Pública de movilidad no motorizada) as a non-motorized mobility analyst reported: “The institutional strengthening acquired with this technical assistance, has built the necessary capacity within the municipality to develop projects like the public bicycle or the necessary cycling urban infrastructure to complete the network.”

Verónica Hormazabal, who works in the same department as Manuel, thinks that “The vision of Traffic and Transportation under which the city of Cuenca was being handled, did not contribute to optimal solutions for the growing rate of motor vehicles or for the integration of all the transport modes. After the technical assistance provided by the World Bank, this vision changed and is now heading to a concept of sustainable mobility and respect for all users”