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The next stop
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The next stop

Malaga is still far from having the West-East and Centre-North metro network that suits its size and dynamism, writes Ignacio Lillo

Ignacio Lillo

Malaga

Monday, 26 February 2024, 09:34

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My long-term memory of details may be a bit fuzzy, but I would swear that it was Kike [Enrique] Urkijo, the first director of the Malaga metro project, who, almost at the beginning of the excavation on Carretera de Cádiz, predicted what would happen when it reached the city centre. And not because he was a visionary, but because he had already experienced it in Bilbao. In paraphrasing, what he told me is that once people tried it on a large scale, they would start demanding that the next step be to extend it to their neighbourhood.

It may seem obvious now, but looking at it with today's eyes is very easy; you have to put yourself in the situation of those days, with a district as densely populated as that one in an uproar; with the city council at odds and constantly putting obstacles in the way of the excavators to prevent them from progressing too much... And with many people, including prominent figures in Malaga society, saying that the metro was unnecessary, a waste, that buses could get everywhere just fine, and that the money should be spent on other things...

Some years and some construction projects later, another Enrique, this time with the last name Salvo, echoed the statement of the first Enrique by affirming that apartments would be sold or rented, wherever possible, with reference to the nearest metro station: "Just a two-minute walk from Puerta Blanca station," for example. It no longer matters as much to be in a specific neighbourhood as it does to be well-connected.

Time has proven them both right, and by extension, those who always saw this infrastructure as not only the backbone of the city but also for the whole of Malaga. There are families living in the metropolitan area who, despite not having regulated park-and-ride facilities or modal exchange hubs, drive to the Teatinos university campus or Martín Carpena, park up, and take the train to the city centre... Because the public is almost always ahead of the institutions.

And all of this, ultimately, is to tell you that since the metro arrived in the city centre almost a year ago, the public is already asking for more metro.

Malaga is still far from having the West-East and Centre-North metro network that suits its size and dynamism. It's good news that the construction is already heading towards the Civil Hospital, whose residents, by the way, hit the jackpot when the project changed from going to La Malagueta first; and that the remaining two sections are in the plans. But there can be no more delays: construction at one end and planning at the other, as there will always be someone waiting for the next station.

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