In 2011 the Honduran Congress passed Decreto 77-2011, a bill that said it would make Tegucigalpa a city with a world-class high speed bus system. At the time only 33 world cities had such a high speed bus service. The project was to be financed by a BID loan approved in December 2010. This loan only financed the first of the 3 phase development/deployment plan. The project oversight committee, established in the enabling legislation was supposed to seek other outside funds to supplement the BID money to finish the project.
The Trans-450 was a high-speed bus project similar to the high speed buses in Mexico City. These long, articulated buses would run in lanes only they could use along major avenues in the city, and would reportedly remove hundreds of buses from regular traffic. The project was expected to server 117,000 riders daily. Ricardo Alverez (National Party) was its chief proponent.
In early April 2014 Tegucigalpa Mayor Ricardo Alvarez inaugurated the first phase of the project promising residents that by June of that year they would be able to ride the first articulated bus in Honduras. He said that about half of the money available through BID had been spent on the project so far. (Inversiones Multiples de Transporte (INVERMUT), the newly formed company created to operate the system, to whom the Honduran Congress granted an 18 year exclusive contract, said that the 21 buses needed to operate the system would arrive in mid April of that same year.
All of that was a lie. Nothing happened for the next year and a half. Why? Supposedly they lacked the funding to continue, which in itself is weird because in 2013 the BCIE had granted a $10 million loan to the government of Honduras for phase 3 of the project. Alvarez had noted at the inauguration of Phase 1 that only half the BID funding had been spent to date. BCIE also mentions in their English language page on the funding that the project was also partially funded by the OPEC Fund for International Development, never mentioned in the Honduran press coverage.
Despite the failure of the buses to materialize, or service to begin on the phase 1 part of the project inaugurated in April, 2014, the City council of Tegucigalpa none-the-less signed an 18 year exclusive concession with INVERMUT that October that among other things, guaranteed INVERMUT a certain level of income, to be made up with Public funds if the ridership was below a certain level..
The buses never started running on Phase 1 of the project because the finalization of that part of the project, the building of access bridges to the stations, the purchase of the buses, etc. couldn't be done until other technical problems were solved.
Phase 3 construction started in 2015, when phase 2 construction was also underway, but phase 1 was never actually finished, or put into service as intended. Technical issues prevented the construction of a bus parking area, or central terminal. No bridges had been installed for pedestrians to get to the bus stops located in the center of busy avenues. No plan had been done for handicapped access, and hence no ramps or elevators had been contemplated. No one had planned to plant new trees for those that were being removed in the Trans 450 right of way. The list goes on.
Its the end of 2016, well past the promise date for the extended end of construction. BID says all their money has been spent. Yet the system is not yet finished. Major parts of the technical plan remain, such as a central bus terminal, and bus parking area. INVERMUT sstill doesn't have the buses. In late November, 2016, the Mayor of Tegucigalpa said it would be 2018 before the project was open to the public. The municipal committee given oversight of the project voted 6 to 5 to keep the project going. The city of Tegucigalpa itself has put a further $3 million into the project.
BID interim representative Rafael Mayen told the Honduran press that:
"In the bank its making us sad and it hasn't pleased us, that which is happening with the Trans 450"
Mayen also took the opportunity to reject any attempt to change the project to a monorail since the space was not designed for a monorail. He noted the buses are built at the factory, but cannot be brought to Honduras because there's literally nowhere to park them. The project never imagined or built a parking lot for the buses for when they're not in service!
Meanwhile, Honduras will be paying interest on those $33 million the BID invested in this project beginning in 2018.
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