The Blackouts in Holguin, Cuba, Predict a Dark Future for the New Electric Tricycles

Holguín residents complain that the vehicles cover an unpopular route, instead of serving more central stops

Electric tricycles parked in a staging area in front of the Vocational school, in the city of Holguín / 14ymedio

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Miguel García, Holguín, 4 May 2024 — Shining under the May sun, the 20 new electric tricycles that travel the streets of Holguín will began to provide service this Thursday. However, poor planning has already hindered the beginning of their journey in a city where public transport barely satisfies a tiny part of the demand for mobility.

With a capacity of six people and a price of ten pesos per customers, the vehicles right now only serve the route between Las Baleares terminal and the Vocational School. At the staging area, Edmundo, a Holguín resident of 62, climbed aboard one of the tricycles on May 2nd in front of the Vocational School, on its inaugural trip.

“They say they are still testing but they have chosen the route with the least problems, they should have started with the most congested routes,” the passenger told 14ymedio after concluding his journey. “People haven’t found out yet, that’s why I was able to feel comfortable without so much pressure because it wasn’t crowded.”

“They should have put these tricycles on the route between the three hospitals, the Surgical Clinic, the Pediatric Hospital and the Lenin Hospital,” says Edmundo. “Those are the sections where people need to move more and where right now the transportation situation is more complicated and the prices for horse-drawn carriages are higher.

“They should have put these tricycles on the route between the three hospitals, the Surgical Clinic, the Pediatric Hospital and the Lenin Hospital”

One of the drivers dressed in a yellow sweater with the Taxis Holguín logo responded to other passengers with similar questions. “Don’t worry, these are the first 20, another 30 will arrive in the next few days,” said the employee of Agency No. 2 belonging to that state company.

“These tricycles have a 60-volt, 200-ampere battery,” explained the driver to an audience more interested in knowing if the service will be maintained over time and if will increase its fleet of vehicles, than in the technical details. “That means it can travel up to 200 kilometers,” the man continued to explain.

Another Taxis Holguín worker explained to this newspaper that after completing their journey, of about 15 daily trips, the tricycles are stored in Agency No. 2 located on Peralta Street between 20 de Mayo and Independencia, in the Santiesteban District. “There they are also charged connected to the electrical grid,” he points out.

The electric tricycles that have arrived in the city of Holguín are not yet using solar energy to recharge their batteries. “With the blackouts that we are suffering in this city, we will see just two or three tricycles in the parking area because the others will not have been able to charge the batteries,” predicted another rider who made the trip to the Balearic Islands.

Electric tricycle traveling the Las Baleares-Vocacional route, in Holguín / 14ymedio

However, the director of the agency, Julio César Coré Garcel, assured the official press that the new means of transportation are part of a program of the Ministry of Transportation to move “progressively toward changing the energy matrix.”

“They can’t cope because they are small and for the volume of passengers that moves in this city they look like toys,” adds a woman. “I pay up to 100 pesos for a horse-drawn carriage when I have an emergency, but most of the time I don’t move in this part of the city.”

According to the woman, the driver of her vehicle assured her that they were only measuring demand and that possibly the vehicles that will arrive in the coming months will cover the so-called route of the three hospitals. But, distrustful, the people of Holguín prefer a bird in hand rather than the promise of several dozen in flight.

“We need 200 or 300 of these tricycles for this city to move again and for getting around to not be as agonizing as it is now,” the customer calculates. “But we also need large buses that transport more passengers at once because this, one little sip at a time, isn’t going to fix it,” the woman considers.

The same night, this Thursday, Holguín residents suffered a long blackout that lasted until dawn in numerous neighborhoods. Surely, as soon as the power supply was cut off, some of the first customers of the tricycles thought about the vehicles, connected, at the taxi agency, to a power outlet without power.


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