STAFF REPORTER

PALMA
LAST year, Palma was the municipality which gave the largest amount of free bus rides to chidren aged 16 and under in Spain.
In 2009, the city's bus company - EMT - doubled the number of free journeys it gave to youngsters precisely because the age of eligibility had been raised to 16. There were 4'308'506 free trips enjoyed in Palma in 2009, 2'330'450 more than in 2008 - an increase of 117 percent.

The figures for free bus rides in Palma were given yesterday as part of a presentation on public transport by the Mayor of Palma, Aina Calvo and Transport Councillor, Jose Hila. Calvo reported that EMT carried a total of 42'174'383 passengers on its buses last year, 16'821 more than in 2008, an increase of 0.04 percent on the previous year.

The report is particularly noteworthy, said Calvo, if it is taken into account that in other regions of the country, the number of people travelling on municipal public transport has dropped. In fact, across Spain, passenger levels have declined by 3.7 percent.

It also means, said the Mayor, that investment in public transport policy and the bus fleet has encouraged the public to use it.
Calvo said that the figures are “great news” at a time of recession. She explained that in order to reverse the trend of declining passenger numbers which had set in several years ago, the City Council in collaboration with EMT had decided to introduce 5 new bus routes into the city.