Public transport regains little more than half of its pre-pandemic users

The fall of travellers sinks the accounts of the network, which reduces the income in 250 million euros in 2020

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Subway users with masks .

BarcelonaLittle by little users return to public transport but demand is still far from the activity before the pandemic. There are still 15% of regular users who have either given up or are still waiting to see how the epidemic evolves before deciding to travel for fear of contagion, despite the fact that, as the authorities insist, there is no scientific evidence that the collective convoys are a focus of infection in Catalonia or anywhere else in the world. According to the latest data, demand remains low: on Tuesday after the Easter holidays, demand stood at 56% compared to the data of 2019, as the Minister of Territory and Sustainability, Damià Calvet, reported on Friday in the presentation of the institutional campaign Un viatge segur to strengthen trust to get back on trains and buses.

According to two surveys carried out in May and December last year, eight out of ten regular users were clear about continuing to use public transport, a figure that remained almost unchanged, while those who do not want to return or are reluctant to do so fell slightly, from 20% to 15%. These are the people that the administrations and operators gathered at the Metropolitan Transport Authority (ATM) want to recover, making them aware that the vehicles and stations are safe spaces as investments have been made to increase cleaning and disinfection and to guarantee the renewal of the air inside the convoys every 2.5 to 10 minutes. Although there are no differences between genders, there are differences by age range, because the most loyal are those over 66 years of age and those who are more likely to leave the system are those under 44.

In the ATM facilities, face masks are used by the majority and those who do not wear them are an "anecdotal" percentage, in the words of the General Director, Pere Torre, who did point out that when security personnel reproach them for their attitude, they respond and are the protagonists of incidents. On the contrary, the call to maintain silence inside the wagons continues to be a pending subject and Torre has insisted on the need to reduce "conversations", both face-to-face and telephone, to prevent the spread of aerosols, which are the main source of contagion.

In Barcelona the recovery of users is slow but for the first time since the outbreak of the pandemic in March last year, the number of users of public transport exceeds by 100,000 to those who choose private transport, stressed the president of the Metropolitan Transport Authority (ATM), Rosa Alarcón, which has ensured that travelers value the service with a high grade, the highest for fifteen years.

The drop in users and the increase in expenses to mitigate the risks of coronavirus have had a clear impact on the public coffers because, for example, the transport offer has grown at an average rate of 95%, according to Minister Calvet, to ensure sufficient space for travelers. The economic impact stands at 407 million euros, in a first approximation of the 2020 accounts, a year in which 250 million less was received. All this aggravates the historical deficit of public transport. The forecasts, emphasize the authorities and the operating companies, are difficult to quantify because the evolution of demand will depend on how and when there will be an economic recovery, and if the epidemiological data improve.

Pilot scheme for T-Mobilitat in June

At the end of June the pilot tests of the T-Movilitat, the ticket that will allow payment based on the route and not by zones, will be launched, according to the Catalan Minister for Territory and Sustainability, Damià Calvet. This ticket was scheduled to come into force in 2016, but its implementation has been postponed year after year, although the stations already have access turns enabled to read and validate it.