WITHIN twelve months of its re-opening, a little over one million people will have used Palma's new Metro, an average of 100'000 a month. The figure is much lower than the original forecast by the regional Transport ministry.

Balearic Minister Antoni Verger had predicted that about two million travellers would be using the service after its opening halfway through last year. The Metro had in fact been closed for months after serious flooding and other deficiences brought it to a halt.

Verger said yesterday that the level of passenger use is significantly reduced in the summer because the bulk of its users are university students and workers on the Son Castello industrial estate which shuts down in August. Hence during that month, there is very little activity on the Metro.

Figures made available by the Majorcan Railway Service (SFM) confirm that after the Metro's reopening at the end of July and up until the end of last year, 507'000 people used the Metro service. From Monday to Friday, an average of 4'500 people pay to travel on it, a figure which drops to 1'500 on Saturdays. Sundays sees even less movement with an average which oscillated between 900 and 1'000.

To promote the use of the Metro, SFM have made a free bicycle service available at the University station to all those who can prove they have used the Metro to get there. The bikes can be used not just to cycle to the University but also to the Parc Bit Recycling and Technology Centre.

The Metro starts running at 6.30am from Monday to Friday at 15 minute intervals, and shuts down at 10.30pm. At the weekends however, the frequency slows to a service every half hour. Verger gave assurances that following reform work, the Metro has functioned through periods of intense rainfall without suffering any of the flooding problems so widely publicised in September 2007.