The Council of Tenerife considers that the budget assigned to the Canary Islands to implement the free public transport as of January 1, 2023, which can cause an economic “hole” for the island corporation and deteriorate the quality of the service.
The insular director of Mobility of the Tenerife Council, José Alberto León, stated this Wednesday in statements to EFE that the amount budgeted at the state level for this purpose, of about 81 million euros for the entire Canary Islands, is equivalent to what it will mean to apply this measure practically only on the island of Tenerife.
José Alberto León has specified that when the 50 percent reduction for transport was approved, the Cabildo had to face a budget increase of about 55 million euros, with which to apply the free buses and trams as of January 1, next year will be higher than that number.
In addition, the subsidy does not cover the need to acquire new vehicles, but the loss of income by the operators, and the Cabildo will have to face the hiring of new drivers and the purchase or rental of more vehicles, as well as increasing the frequencies of buses and trams.
Added to this is the cost of fuel in the case of buses, which has already experienced a “substantial” increase, and significant amounts are derived from all of this “that can create an economic hole for us”, warned José Alberto León .
“A measure of this magnitude should have been made with an attached economic file and also the form of payment of the subsidy has not been clarified, so that if the Cabildo de Tenerife must cover it throughout the year, it will have to advance the funds And we are not talking about a small amount, and perhaps starting to collect from 2024 ”, specified the island director.
In his opinion, “whoever has negotiated” this measure for next year’s state budgets has not taken into account the economic amounts “and the relevance of what we are talking about regardless of whether it is compensated by the State.”
The underlying problem is that it is a political and transitory measure when in the field of public transport there should be proposals designed to last over time, continued León, who pointed out that it makes no sense to accustom the user to free transport. public transport “and then start charging” again.
José Alberto León has specified that with the application of the 50 percent bonus, an emergency tender was carried out to acquire buses under a “renting” or rental regime for three years and these vehicles arrive in mid-December.
This measure was to meet the aforementioned bonus but now, with an additional reduction that goes as far as free, it will probably be necessary to proceed to another emergency tender for more buses that, in any case, would not arrive on the island until March or April of this year. next year.
In the case of the tram, the tendering and commissioning time for new vehicles is even longer, more than two years, and the Cabildo de Tenerife plans to reinforce the service by 10 percent at peak times, the island director has specified of Mobility.
León has considered that instead of planning to encourage the user of the private vehicle to switch to public transport, far-reaching measures have been taken for a month and a half that can cause tensions in the system.
He has also insisted that this proposal, in addition to being accompanied by the appropriate financial statement, should be developed in a process over several years and not in just one, since this transience prevents “sensible” decisions from being made in the medium term.
In any case, the island director has stressed, the Cabildo will assume the task with the means at its disposal despite the fact that free transport can cause “financial problems” derived from the increase in the structural costs of the service: more buses , more drivers and more fuel costs.