It is hoped that the new mode of transport will reduce traffic and pollution. :: SUR
Wednesday 30 July. This is the chosen date for the opening of Malaga’s new metro - a project that has been going on for 14 years and cost 600 million euros. For the first day, the service will be free for all passengers.
Of the network’s six planned lines, only one and two will be open. These connect both the university and the Carretera de Cádiz districts with the station area of the city.
However the lines still do not go right into the city centre where the majority of passengers want to travel to. The route will not include the El Corte Inglés area until 2016 or the Alameda Principal (2017). However, this month’s opening connects the city’s most densely populated districts which have a combined total of 240,000 inhabitants.
The two lines meet at El Perchel station that is close to the María Zambrano train station as well as bus services. In total, the current metro network consists of 17 stations and 11.9 kilometres of track.
Regional Head of Development and Housing, Elena Cortés, said that the citizens of Malaga “have taken to the project with enthusiasm” and that the infrastructure “will revolutionise” mobility in the city.
“The metro will change the city for the better forever,” she added, and said that with underground “Malaga gains comfort, speed and respect towards the environment.”
Cheap and fast
During working hours, a train will run every 7.5 minutes and on evenings and weekends, one every ten minutes. On Fridays, Saturdays and the days before public holidays, the service will run until 1.30am. There will also be special services at Christmas, during Holy Week and for major sporting or cultural events.
It is hoped that three million passengers will use the service by the end of the year - a figure that translates as 17,000 per day. While for the coming 12 months, the target is to reach between five and six million.
It has been questioned why the service is opening in the middle of the summer. The reason given is so that university students have enough time to familiarise themselves with the service and, if necessary, find a flat to live in near a station. The holiday season was also preferred because any initial problems could be solved with less hassle for the public.
In order to encourage people to use their cars less, the service has a competitive price and, along with Seville, the city has the cheapest metro tickets in Spain. A one-journey ticket will cost 1.35 euros, while a multi-journey ticket works out at 83 cents per trip.
Completing the network
This week, the Junta de Andalucía finalised the funding plan to finish the network. It has been agreed that 138.14 million euros will be needed over the next three years so that construction can come to an end. Currently, the project is 81 per cent complete.
If the deadlines are met, the section that is being built (although progress has practically been on hold for months) between El Perchel and the Guadalmedina station (opposite El Corte Inglés) will open at the end of 2016.
By the end of 2017 work should be completed on a 295 metre tunnel that will lead to the Atarazanas station in the city centre as well as a 1.8km section of overground track towards the Hospital Civil, north of the city centre.