VELEZ-MALAGA Town Hall has decided to stop the local tram service before November 1 because it can’t afford the expense of running it.
The conservative Partido Popular mayor of the town, Francisco Delgado Bonilla, held a meeting with the directors of Travelsa, the company running the municipal transport services, as well as the provincial representative for the Junta de Andalucia department for Public Works, Enrique Benitez.
The mayor said that it had been a hard decision to make, but that the town hall can’t make up the tram’s deficit nor pay for the increasing costs for running and maintaining it.
“It is our responsibility to guarantee the financial stability of the town hall and not put other municipal services at risk” he said.
The town hall has paid part of the money owed to Travelsa, although they still have a debt of almost €1.6 million. Opening the second stretch of the tram route, which was planned for next year, would have increased the yearly payment to around €2.6 million, an amount which the mayor says would be impossible to pay, as it is almost nine per cent of the municipal budget. Therefore, the service has been suspended to prevent it from running up further costs.
Delgado Bonilla blames the Junta de Andalucia for having to stop the service as he claimed that they had agreed to help pay for it, and says that after having promoted implanting tram systems in Andalucia and encouraging their installation, the Junta should have to answer for the money that has been invested.
The tram, the first of its kind in Andalucia, was inaugurated in October 2006 and has cost around €40 million. Travelsa staff will now be driving buses, and a bus service will be run at the same time as the tram and in the same areas.
Photo credit: Jose Toro
By Jennifer Leighfield