Elena Cortés, Francisco de la Torre, Ana Pastor and Susana Díaz. :: C. C.
Four hundred people were invited to the formal inauguration of Malaga’s metro service. Forty metro workers jumped aboard the first train to set off from El Perchel. And after that initial journey 48,600 passengers used the free - for one day only - transport system on its first day.
“A historic day” was one of the most repeated phrases by attending dignitaries. The head of public works at the Junta de Andalucía in Malaga, Elena Cortés, stated, “What once seemed a mirage is now a reality.”
The president of the Junta de Andalucía, Susana Díaz, referred to the project as “the largest piece of infrastructure” ever created in the history of the city and thanked the understanding and trust given by businesses and locals. She also insisted that the Junta has now agreed on a budget that will enable the network to be completed, as planned, in 2017.
Carlos Guille, director of operations in Spain and Portugal of the EIB, which financed the works, described the metro project as both “satisfying and responsible for a lot of headaches”, and said that he felt like a university professor witnessing the graduation of one of his pupils.
From trams to trains
A special guest joined the 40 metro staff for the inaugural train journey.
Vicente Ruiz Gázquez, aged 90, worked on Malaga’s now defunct tram service, which ceased operating in 1961.
“I always hoped, from the beginning of the works on the metro, that I wouldn’t die before I got to travel on it,” said the elderly former transport worker.
Vicente declared the new service very comfortable and speedy while remembering his years on the old tram lines.
“I was first of all a ticket seller, then a driver and I even painted trams. I spent 16 hours a day working, from dawn to dusk.”
Vicente was not the oldest passenger on the metro on Wednesday. Beatriz López, who is 93, fulfilled her dream of travelling on the train along with four generations and 17 members of her family. It was a complete surprise to her, organised in secret to celebrate her saint’s day. With red-rimmed eyes, the spirited old lady said that she would “never forget what my family have done for me”. The metro was so busy that Isabel and her family had to wait for three trains to pass before they were able to get on.
Between 1pm and 9pm, 48,632 passengers used the metro which was free on its first day. The 450 people surveyed gave the service an average score of 8.7 out of ten while many stressed that its absence in the city centre was their main criticism. Other negative points were a lack of Wi-Fi and air conditioning on station platforms.