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Figuring out the Centro’s new normal

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  • A stretch of Calle 60 north of Calle 55 is lined with a dozen new bus stops, clearing up space in the middle of the Centro. Police and brigades of facilitators in green vests helped Monday-morning commuters figure out the new routes. Photo: YEL

On Monday morning, it took state and federal police, plus squads of green-vested guides, to help commuters navigate the Centro’s new normal in Merida.

Passengers had a trial run on Sunday when Merida’s urban transport plan began, meant to thin crowds that represent a coronavirus danger. On the first workday under the system, the Centro was calm, but residents appeared like tourists in a new city, asking for help and studying a map to find the right bus stop.

Early Monday, on Calle 60 between 55 and 49, a dozen new stops — four per block — were placed for passengers headed north. Sidewalks on the east side of the street were crowded with workers, few socially distanced, standing by makeshift bus stop signs.

The street took, already a major thoroughfare, on a more urban appearance as buses idled in front of shops, restaurants and hotels along the street.

But at the Plaza Grande and the Cathedral, city officials got what they wanted — more space between people in an age where crowds are dangerous.

Riders told local media they were annoyed at having to walk blocks to reach their new bus stops. Residents in the Centro were irritated that parking spaces outside their homes have disappeared to make way for public transportation.

One woman complained to Diario de Yucatan that her sister can’t find peace in her bedroom because now buses idle outside her window.

And the thing is, Mrs. Alvarado continued, from early on the noise of engines began to be heard at the door of her house.

“Here (in the front room) my sister sleeps and she likes to say her prayers, but she can’t anymore because all the noise is heard. That was not what he (the governor) thought. The authorities must experience this these first days, the feelings of the people, because they never consulted the neighbors,” she said.

But Gov. Mauricio Vila Dosal expressed confidence that riders will adapt to the new system and understand that it was designed for the safety of residents.

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