SANTA CRUZ DE TENERIFE, Nov. 17 (EUROPA PRESS) –
The Minister of Public Works, Transport and Housing of the Government of the Canary Islands, Sebastián Franquis, stated this Thursday that the autonomous community would need to incorporate at least 130 buses to be able to meet the increase in demand as a result of the free buses and tram as of January 1, given that with the current fleet, he sees it as “impossible” to cope with the volume of users at very specific times.
This was stated in a press conference after holding a working meeting with the island councilors responsible for the Transport area of each of the seven councils to address free transport in the Canary Islands and to analyze the tariff policy that is going to be applied in the autonomous community from next year.
The counselor has indicated that the acquisition of each vehicle could be around between 250,000 and 300,000 euros, to which must be added the cost that hiring new drivers will entail for the island councils in order to cover the increase in demand from public transport users , which on some islands is already estimated to be above 20%.
Sebastián Franquis wanted to make it clear that the regular public transport fare system in the Canary Islands is one of the cheapest in the country and stressed that each of the islands offers a “magnificent service” and with “a quality recognized” by the residents themselves. users. Likewise, he valued that the councils have been encouraging public transport for years, for example, through different bonuses.
Franquis wanted to remind that with the 50% discount, which came into force last September, the number of new users in the Canary Islands has increased by around 15% on average, which means that with the free service it will be necessary to prepare public transport, while the agreement announced last week “raises a series of difficulties that have been put on the table today”.
Thus, the counselor announced that a meeting has already been requested with the Ministry of Transport, Mobility and the Urban Agenda to analyze in depth the consequence of this gratuity in the autonomous community, as well as to specify how the financing will be, so that councils can adjust their budget planning.
Likewise, he indicated that the meeting should serve to define the vouchers that will be used as of January 1, in such a way that the policy of vouchers that will be free can be unified, since each council has a different multi-trip package.
In addition, the counselor stressed that the Order that will develop this measure of free transport will have to be agreed with the Ministry, so that “it does not cause difficulties and limitations in the payment and in the income of the financing that will come to through the Ministry itself.
Sebastián Franquis pointed out that they will also raise the need for an increase in the resources allocated to the purchase of new vehicles to the Ministry of Transport, since with the fleet that currently exists on each of the islands it is “impossible”. meet the volume of users expected with free public transport, mainly at peak times.
In this regard, Franquis pointed out that almost the majority of the councils have acquired new vehicles that have been requested in 2021 and that are being delivered this year, so different possibilities are going to be studied to deal with the deficit of buses, such as be through ‘renting’, in order to offer the best possible service.
Lastly, he stressed that this measure has to empower those users who frequently use public transport and that those who join remain over time, since the main objective is to reduce the use of private vehicles, for which it is It is essential that a quality service is offered, he added.
MORE THAN 65 MILLION PASSENGERS.
Miguel Ángel Pérez, First Vice President and Counselor for Public Works, Infrastructure, Transport and Mobility of the Cabildo de Gran Canaria, pointed out that in the last seven years public transport on the Island has increased by more than 25% and so far per year, more than 57 million travelers have been exceeded, so they already plan to exceed 65 million in the year 2023 as a result of the free buses.
The island councilor acknowledged that they have little time to put this measure into practice, but he wanted to make it clear that the councils will make “all the effort” that is necessary.
For his part, the insular director of Mobility of the Cabildo de Tenerife, José Alberto León, admitted that the free public transport supposes a “very important” increase in the associated costs that the councils must finance so that the service “does not suffer in time” and entails an “additional effort”, given that the 2023 budget only contemplated 50% free. For this reason, he advocated negotiating the Order that the Ministry must issue before it enters into force.
José Alberto León indicated that a record number of public transport users is expected to be broken this year, with close to 62 million passengers, and for next year there was already a forecast of 66 million, only with a 50% discount, so With the 100% subsidy, it is expected to increase this figure by 20%.