Giving a new meaning to “putting the cart before the horse,” Guadalajara Mayor Enrique Alfaro and his minions officially unveiled the calandrias electricas that will eventually replace the traditional equine-drawn model seen filling the city’s center’s paved circuitry with the sound of bells and hoof-clops — and the smell of horse hair.
The traditional calandrias will be gradually replaced over the course of a year by their modern counterparts – whose cost of 500,000 pesos a head is being covered by electrical device manufacture Kadled – starting this December.
For the design and construction of the new calandrias, Kadled contracted Advanced Power Vehicles (APV), a Mexican company whose purpose, according to their Facebook page, is to “optimize the use of zero emission electrical vehicles.” In exchange for providing the city with the new conveyances, Kadled will have exclusive rights to space made available on them for advertising for the next 20 years.
While the vehicles themselves cut a nice figure, the prospect of 20 years of what some see as visual pollution is a bone of contention at City Hall, with members of the PRI political party being particularly vocal in their opposition. Although only the vehicles’ rears are currently allotted for advertisement, authorities aren’t ruling out the flanks and even drivers’ uniforms as additional locations.
A further point of conflict challenging Alfaro’s enactment of his project has to do with the involvement and cooperation of the current calandria drivers and their mouthpiece, the Union of Carriage Drivers. The union’s leader, Pedro Aguilar Bautista, recently was sacked by his constituency for his support of Alfaro’s initiative. Members opposed to the new program claim that a 99-year lease – together with a binding contract pledging their dedication to their charges’ faithful upkeep – will rob them of the sovereignty and sense of ownership they had enjoyed as proprietors of their carriages, a demotion from one’s own boss to just another municipal employee.
The carriages themselves, whose speed tops out at 15 mph, will have a six-person capacity, USB ports, and a sun roof.
While Alfaro’s fleet lacks full support from both city hall and the Carriage Driver’s Union, an interview of out-of-towners in the city center by local daily Mural suggested that tourists – a significant portion of the calandieros’ bread and butter – may view the new models with less-than-negative prejudice in the future.