The Colonial City and its best version: Mobility

It is no secret that the problem of mobility in the city of Santo Domingo, aggravated by the deficiency of a public transportation system, already obsolete and scarce, and a car fleet growing every year at unsustainable levels are issues that have been given late attention by the different governments.

The Colonial City does not escape this uncomfortable reality. It is difficult to get there and parking is always insufficient, even more so with the increase in cultural and leisure attractions that are being added in the area. The lack of education of many of the drivers and the impunity for those who invade the sidewalks or violate traffic regulations do not help to alleviate the structural problems.

Pilot plan for electric buses

Those responsible for the Integral Program of Tourist and Urban Development of the Colonial City have had this challenge very much in mind since the beginning of the first stage of the work.

Electrobuses Zona ColonialDifferent aspects have been studied. From a public-private partnership plan for the construction of parking lots to traffic flow studies to prevent the Colonial City from becoming a shortcut for public transportation lines (conchos) between the surrounding neighborhoods and the Malecón.

New solutions have been put in place, such as the construction already started in November 2023 by the Administradora de Fondos de Inversión Reservas (AFI Reservas) of a parking building and commercial galleries around the intersection of Avenida Mella and Arzobispo Meriño, in the Santa Bárbara sector. It is a project that includes 351 public parking lots and 1,970 meters of commercial premises and is part of the projects of the National Parking Plan.

Museum connection

But the question is not only to park. First you have to get there. The Program includes an Electromobility Pilot Plan to connect the museums of the Plaza de la Cultura with those of the Colonial Zone. The historic center will host 17 stops of these electrobuses and two more stops will be placed in the vicinity of Metro Line 1.

Although the project is in the preliminary phase, still in the evaluation of the company operating the Pilot Plan, it has already aroused interest and controversy. Connecting it to the Plaza de la Cultura makes sense and enhancing its radius of action with a Metro line is the most pertinent. But for some residents, the idea that buses, electric or otherwise, will spend the day running through the narrow streets is not the best solution or the one that would improve their quality of life. It seems, explains one neighbor, “they think more about visitors than residents.”

The project is still in its infancy and has not been socialized with the neighbors, who debate in their associations the future of the Colonial City. The President of the Republic has referred to the various investment plans with an expression that does not quite convince: “thematic zone”.

Defining the personality of a historic center is fundamental to preserve its real estate and social heritage, boost its economy and keep it alive. Conjugating the interests of residents with those of visitors and their interdependence is key. Neither turning it into a theme park that loses its identity (which is what attracts visitors) nor letting it evolve without guidance or investment would lead to decadence. The population of the Colonial City remains at about 8,000 residents. It is not growing.

Cultural tourism

Mobility to and within the Colonial City is key to developing cultural tourism. Not only for the residents of Santo Domingo, but also for the millions of tourists who could move from the “sun and beach” poles to the capital. Promoting cultural tourism is not a new aspiration, but without these efficient connections it is not feasible to think about it.

Pedro Malagón, in his book “Dominican Tourism, 30 years at cruising speed”, a work sponsored by Banco Popular, delves into the aspects of this segment that expands towards religious tourism, with the best samples of sacred art in the Colonial City itself, gastronomic tourism, with undoubted samples in the historic center, carnival tourism, with the best expressions of inland towns, tourism of caves and speleology….

Yes, mobility is a serious problem in the Dominican capital and the Colonial City is currently defining its own: pedestrian streets, electric buses, more parking lots, a new Metro stop nearby…? Everything is still under study, while the recovery of the streets, museums and monuments is progressing at a good pace.


Know More: Culture

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Dominican Republic Live Editor

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