Balearic leader Francesc Antich said yesterday that his government was “committed” to making substantial contributions to improving the public transport network in the Balearics. One of its chief aims is to renew the fleet of coaches which provide the service. There are 228 coaches in the Balearics and their average age is 12.7 years (14.6 years in Majorca and about ten in Minorca, Ibiza and Formentera). This compares badly with an average age of 7.6 years in Gran Canaria and 5.5 years in Tenerife. The government hopes to reduce the average age of the buses down to ten years between 2002 and 2003. Last year, the coaches covered 14.1 million kilometres, carrying 12.5 million passengers, at a cost of 279 pesetas per kilometre. Antich, accompanied by Francesc Quetglass, the minister of public works, and Joaquin Rodríguez, the director general of tranport, yesterday presented the diagnosis of road transport which will be used as a basis for the master plan for transport in the Balearics which is now being drawn up. This plan, Antich said, will set up a public transport network which will be a valid alternative to private cars. The government wants to boost regular transport by road, rail, bicycle, inter-island transport and new transport technologies, programmes which are being developed and will be launched over the coming months. The master plan will provide a sustainable public transport system which will respect the environment and cover a minimum market quota of 25 per cent. Antich said that this new policy represents a “radical change,” while Quetglas said that it was not intended to brand private transport as an “enemy” but to make public transport an efficient alternative which will improve quality of life.The aims of the plan are to guarantee the right to individual mobility to the highest number of persons, improve access to municipalities, increase the participation of regular transport and achieve greater financial and social efficiency of public resources.

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