THE Balearic government has granted initial approval to its master plan for transport in the Balearics, which will see 1'467 million euros spent on roads, rail, sea and air transport between 2005 and 2012.
In announcing details of the plan, public works minister Mabel Cabrer admitted that the the biggest project - the railway system in Majorca, which will cost 1'385 million euros - will need help from the central government, and suggested an agreement similar to the one signed for the roads.
Cabrer did not hesitate in describing the plan as ambitious and said it could receive its final seal of approval in January. However, prior to that it will be posted for public inspection for a period of two months. Cabrer said that she hoped that suggestions made during this period would help improve it.
One of the chief objectives of the plan is to improve the quality of public transport and increase its use, until it accounts for at least 25 percent of all journeys made.
The chapter which will require the greatest economic effort, Cabrer said, is the rail service in Majorca (Minorca and Ibiza have no railways).
The minister said that the rate of work would depend on whether or not it is co-financed by the central government.
One of the major rail projects is the four underground lines between the Plaza España in Palma and the ring road. Two will be for the new Palma-University-ParcBit line, where there will be one train in each direction every three minutes. The other two will be for the other services.
The plan also includes a tram between Santa Ponsa to Palma and Arenal, with a branch which goes round the Avenidas and a branch to the airport, as well as a new rail service from Manacor to Cala Rajada, Palma-Airport-Santanyi, Santanyi-Manacor and Sa Pobla-Alcudia, which will be reinforced with a tram which will link the port of Pollesna with Can Picafort.
Cabrer said that nearly all the level crossings would be closed.
As to maritime transport, Cabrer said more attention will be paid to fast ferries, and the central government will be asked to protect these routes and links with the Peninsula, and provide a greater discount on fares.
As to road transport, 58.6 million euros will be spent on replanning services, introducing new routes and increasing the frequency of existing ones. The fleet will be modernised and travelling times increased by introducing bus only lanes.
Better information will be provided on the internet, Cabrer said.
A further 23.5 million euros will be spent on combining services, such as linking the bus to train times, and introducing a single ticket valid for all forms of public transport.
More bike only lanes will also be created, particularly in the university area.