Experts propose measures to ease Malaga metro congestion following Holy Week chaos
More services at rush hour is the central proposal from transport specialists, but there are also other possible improvements in the short and medium term
Wednesday, 5 April 2023
Malaga's metro showed the first signs of collapse on the first Monday on Holy Week, with a flood of people who flocked to the city centre during the afternoon and evening to see the Semana Santa processions. On social media networks and in messages sent to SUR, dozens of users criticised the fact that they had long waits on the train platform in their respective neighbourhoods after seeing several trains pass (up to five, according to some) which were full, as well as endure long waits to return home at night. Some people said that the situation was so bad that they looked for other means of transport after having paid for their tickets.
To resolve the problem, transport specialists said there must be an increase in trains and frequencies at busy holiday times but there are also other possible improvements that could be made in the short and medium term, including some relatively simple solutions, which would help users to plan their journeys.
"More trains, there is no other answer," says Lluis Sanvicens, an independent urban mobility and energy consultant. "However, for the concessionary company this means earning less, because they would need more maintenance and more staff; and, additonally, there would be idle trains at other times of the year". In his opinion, after the heavy investment that has been made in the infrastructure, it is technically feasible to have four-minute frequencies. Currently, the best is five minutes and 50 seconds.
The concessionary company, Malaga Metro, has ordered four new trains with the aim of increasing its fleet. These are Urbos 100 series vehicles, an evolution of the current units (Urbos 3), which are manufactured in Zaragoza. With the incorporation of these vehicles, the urban railway fleet will have 18 trainsets.
In addition, a recruitment process will be opened to add more staff. The aim is that by the start of the next university course in September, which is when the high season for this infrastructure begins, the frequency of trains can be significantly improved.
Vicente P. Jordá, transport and technology consultant agrees that it is necessary to improve the frequency and fleet of vehicles. But he offers other ideas that can be implemented in the short term, and which are also economical.
The first is to improve information about access and exit options at Guadalmedina, which has three entrances, although the vast majority of passengers go to the one at El Corte Inglés, which means queuing. There are two others, at Albert Camus and at the corner of Callejones del Perchel, which are almost always empty.
Another cheap proposal is to install variable information panels outside the stations, so that passengers, before validating their ticket or going down to the platform, can find out if the next train is full and the waiting time: "From there you can know how long you are going to wait and consider going by another means".
In his opinion, from what he has experienced in Valencia, his home city, there is also a factor associated with the novelty: "The first year the metro smashed all forecasts, which is what is going to happen here", although in the following months it will tend to normalise. Nevertheless, Jordá warns that the saturation will return during the next August fair, and then on some Christmas dates, such as the switching on of the Calle Larios lights and some weekends.