Few takers for Mérida’s brand new ‘horse-free’ carriages

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Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Born in Mérida, Carlos Rosado van der Gracht is a Mexican/Canadian blogger, photographer and adventure expedition leader. He holds degrees in multimedia, philosophy and translation from universities in Mexico, Canada and Norway. Sign up for the Yucatán Roundup, a free newsletter, which delivers the week's top headlines every Monday.
The arrival of the electric tourist carriages has been celebrated by animal welfare groups, but whether or not they fully replace traditional horse-drawn calesas is yet to be seen. Photo: Courtesy

Last Friday, Mérida’s new “horse-free” electric carriages began to operate along Paseo de Montejo.

However, conductors say potential customers seem to be underwhelmed with the carriages. 

“I have been waiting for hours, and still no takers. Tourists seem to prefer the old-style horse-drawn carriages,” said Manuel Torres Velasco

But supporters of the new carriages say people just need time to get used to the new high-tech option.

Horse-drawn carriages have long been popular in Mérida but have come under fire in recent years by animal rights activists

Several instances of horses collapsing in Izamal and Mérida have brought much attention to the cause of animal welfare, as have other recent incidents. Photo: Courtesy

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The cost per ride on the new carriages is 400 pesos for a maximum of four passengers, which is the same as for the “horse-powered” option.

City officials have also been quick to note that there are currently no plans to phase out traditional horse-drawn carriages. 

“This new program with the electric carriages is not meant to substitute the traditional option, but simply to offer visitors with an alternative, said Eduardo Echeverría Ayala from city hall. 

A traditional horse-drawn carriage on Mérida’s Paseo de Montejo. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

The purchase cost of the six new Chinese-made electric carriages is reported to be roughly half a million pesos.

 But the city has said it will be footing the bill for half of the total cost, with the other half being covered by the conductors association. 

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