Marbella residents already benefit from free bus travel. / david lerma

Marbella reduces the price of a monthly bus pass and rechargeable cards by 30 per cent

The scheme comes into force on 1 September in line with government anti-crisis measures, but the council believes the impact will be insignificant

DAVID LERMA Marbella

Last month the Spanish government announced a series of measures to offset the cost-of-living crisis caused by rising energy prices and the war in Ukraine, including a 30% reduction in the cost of public transport which is run by local councils or regional governments. Marbella’s councillor for Transport, Enrique Rodríguez, confirmed on Monday that arrangements have now been made for this 30% reduction to be applied to monthly passes and rechargeable travel cards on the Avanza bus service for journeys within the municipality, although it will not apply for journeys to other towns. The discount will come into force on 1 September.

Rodríguez said the lower prices will be maintained until 31 December and they mean that the monthly bus pass will be 10 euros cheaper and will cost 25.46€, while the multi-trip or ‘tarjebús’ tickets, which currently cost 83 céntimos per journey, will be 58 céntimos. “The discount will be applied automatically. People will not have to apply for it,” he said.

The council does have some concerns about the plan, though. “The government in Madrid has obliged us to reduce the price of the bus tickets but without confirming exactly how much it will give us in compensation. It appears that it has allocated 100 million euros altogether, but that is for more than 8,000 councils,” Rodríguez said.

In reality, the measure is not dramatic given that public transport in Marbella is already free for the 72,500 people on the population register who hold a Municipal Mobility Card. Since 2019, when the scheme came into operation, 81% of bus journeys have been free, which is about 10,824,000.

“The municipal transport card is financed 85% by the council’s own resources,” Rodríguez said. He calculates that the free transport has saved local residents 18 million euros in the past three years.

“The government hasn’t considered any measures to support councils like ours, which are pioneers in free local transport, so we need to be vigilant to make sure we don’t end up being penalised,” he explained, and he also believes the government package of measures is insufficient, even in a crisis situation like the present one. “The impact will be insignificant,” he predicted.