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Dominicans Fascinated by Santo Domingo’s Subway

Por Dialogo
marzo 10, 2009

Santo Domingo, Mar 10 (EFE) – The subway in Santo Domingo, which was inaugurated about a ‎month ago, fascinates the Dominicans. Entire families travel to distant locations just for a fun ride ‎and a picture or a video to document having set foot in one of its stations.‎
A total of 1,895,000 people used the subway service during its first month of operation, according ‎to data from the President of the country, Leonel Fernández, who pointed out the users’ ‎‎“exemplary” behavior on this transportation system.‎
‎“Gentlemen give up their seats to ladies and the disabled. Rules are followed and so are seat ‎assignments,” Fernández said in a recent speech.‎
In Santo Domingo subways, he added, sanitation is well kept and users understand that they are ‎not allowed to eat chicharrones, the typical dish of Villa Mella, to the north of Santo Domingo, ‎which the subway line passes after traveling 14.5 kilometers.‎
Therefore, despite the controversy that has surrounded the construction of the subway from start ‎to finish, the inhabitants of the country’s capital see in this railroad a solution to lengthy commutes ‎in a country with a deficient public transportation system.‎
‎“I believe this is the beginning of the creation of a good transportation system in our Dominican ‎Republic,” Manuel Gil, a local resident of Yaguate in San Cristóbal (west), said to Efe.‎
When he commutes to the capital city, Gil takes his own vehicle, parks it, and runs his errands ‎and visits on the underground, avoiding the long city traffic and the resultant stress, he stated.‎
The subway is a great service, it has no inconveniences, and in a matter of minutes it goes from ‎one place to another,” added Gil, who recounted having similar experiences in Italy, Spain, Brazil, ‎and Venezuela.‎
The subway in Santo Domingo, considered the largest infrastructure built in the Dominican ‎Republic, was officially inaugurated on January 29 after a few tests in December, when it ‎transported over 2 million people free of charge.‎
The 14.5 kilometer long train route cost $672 million dollars, according to official numbers.‎
It goes from north to south along Máximo Gómez Avenue, in the heart of the Dominican capital, ‎all the way to the Villa Mella community, in the city of Santo Domingo North, and is estimated to ‎be able to carry 175 thousand people per day.‎
The subway has 16 stations connected by 19 trains and 57 cars which were made in Spain, and ‎its construction was supervised by the Metro de Madrid and international companies like the ‎German Siemens.‎
The underground railway is also a tourist spot and many foreigners who visit the country now ‎want to experience it.‎
Just like Manuel, a Colombian visiting Santo Domingo, who did not want to leave without first ‎‎“experiencing it.”‎
‎“The subway is very beautiful, very fast, and it is not crowded. Its route passes by a very ‎important part of the country,” said Manuel in statements to Efe, in which he emphasized ‎information from subway employees about the routes and stations. ‎ On weekends entire families come from different places to see the subway, and during the ‎weekdays schools go on field trips to familiarize their students with the underground.‎
The construction was accomplished despite strong opposition from the political sector and ‎popular organizations, complaining that the government should focus on other priorities, like ‎health and education.‎
Despite this opposition, last month the President instructed the Oficina de Reordenamiente del ‎Transporte to speed up the construction of the second route of the Santo Domingo subway, ‎which will connect the city of San Luis (east) to Los Alcarrizos (west).‎
Fernández expects to inaugurate the second route of the subway in February 2012. ‎