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Passengers at the Atarazanas station on the Malaga metro. Migue Fernández
Malaga metro smashes record and doubles its passenger numbers compared to previous best year
Transport

Malaga metro smashes record and doubles its passenger numbers compared to previous best year

Since the service arrived into the city centre the number of users has rocketed to almost 14 million

Ignacio Lillo

Malaga

Wednesday, 17 January 2024, 16:52

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The arrival of the metro to Malaga city centre has practically doubled the number of passengers, from almost 6.9 million in its previous best year (2019) to 13.6 million at the end of 2023. A total of 13,606,294 Malaga local residents and visitors have used the transport system during the last twelve months, which is 103% more than in 2022, according to data provided by the Junta de Andalucía's Ministry of Public Works.

This last figure can be interpreted in several ways. The first is that the number of users has been such that it has been close to the Junta's estimate for the first year with the complete network up to Guadalmedina and Atarazanas (14 million). The Junta de Andalucía considers the initial estimates regarding the commissioning of the El Perchel-Atarazanas extension section, which took place on 27 March, to be "confirmed".

Pending the balance of the 12 months (March 2023 to March 2024), with the monthly average of passengers since it arrived at El Corte Inglés and the Alameda, a simple extrapolation gives a figure of between 16 and 17 million, well above the forecast. However, these figures are, to a certain extent, skewed by the effect of the heavy discounts during 2023 on public transport, where the government and the Junta provide up to 60% of the ticket price.

Room for improvement

Despite the good results, there is still plenty of room for improvement. For years, the concessionary company that runs the metro has been forecasting that the convoys will carry around 18 million passengers every year, just on the connection to the historic centre. This is almost three times more than the maximum that has been reached since it was put into service on 30 July 2014.

The third leap will come when the network that is currently designed is completed, with the extension to the large hospital complex formed by the new regional hospital, the Civil hospital and the maternity hospital. By then, 21 million users are expected in the first year.

The theoretical population served will reach some 230,000 inhabitants, at a rate of 117,000 in the Carretera de Cádiz district; 88,000 in Cruz del Humilladero and 33,000 in Teatinos, especially for those the majority of users who have a stop less than 500 metres from their doorstep.

Pandemic

Comparison with 2019, the year before the pandemic and the previous annual record number of users (6.87 million), shows a growth of 97.84%. Although throughout the year there have been higher monthly figures than the previous year, logically the growth has been much higher since the arrival at the Centre. Thus, the month with the lowest number of passengers was January, with 645,328 users, while the month with the highest number of users was December, with 1,554,732. In fact, the latter has become the month with the highest volume of demand since its commercial operation began on 30 July 2014. In these nine years, this means of transport has accumulated nearly 60 million users (59,765,976 users).

The El Perchel interchange, which is used to change from one line to another and which connects with the María Zambrano railway station and the intercity bus station (as well as the Vialia and Larios shopping centres), maintains its leading position in terms of passenger traffic, with 14.19% of passengers (1,931,594). Next comes Atarazanas station, with 1,636,931 (12%), followed by Ciudad de la Justicia station, in Teatinos, with 1,007,341 passengers (7.4%). This demonstrates the attractiveness of the most central station of the underground, which in its first year of operation has become the second most popular of the 19 stations that make up the route.

Payment methods

According to the method of payment, the recurrent and cheaper travel cards, such as the Metro de Málaga wallet card and the multimodal card of the Metropolitan Transport Consortium, accounted for 93% of journeys, while the occasional ticket (single and return) accounted for the remaining 7%.

The Junta's regional minister of Public Works, Rocío Díaz, praised the "successful year that has been experienced with the Malaga metro, since it opened its way to the heart of the city at the end of March”.

“The people of Malaga have enthusiastically welcomed this extension, which we are now going to continue with the forthcoming start of the extension works to the new hospital," Díaz said.

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