The number of vehicles in Palma continues to increase.

The Council of Majorca's land department says that last year there was a daily average of 179,731 vehicles using the stretch of the "via cintura" between the Inca motorway intersection and the Soller exit. This was a record number. Although the department doesn't have official figures for this year, it reckons that the record has already been broken by up to 10,000 vehicles more.

The consequences of this level of traffic are jams, and the councillor for land, Mercedes Garrido, acknowledged at this week's full session of the Council that traffic on the via cintura is regularly brought to a standstill. Even the smallest accident can lead to major congestion, and so the Council is starting work on a transport plan for Palma metropolitan area.

Antoni Amengual of El Pi presented a proposal for solutions, in particular for traffic coming into Palma from Inca and Llucmajor as well as for the Son Castelló and Son Fuster exits. The Council, Garrido added, is talking with four town halls - Palma, Calvia, Llucmajor and Marratxi - with one possibility being the establishment of car parks on the outskirts allied to greater use of public transport.

Junctions along the via cintura are the principal cause of tailbacks, the worst one being where the Inca motorway joins the ring road. Here, there are two lanes which filter into the entrance slip road in the Andratx direction. The jams, especially during rush hours, are particularly bad. The single lane for the city centre and the airport generally isn't as affected, but the overall layout of the intersection with the via cintura makes it difficult to find a solution for dealing with ever increasing traffic. The Soller exit, close to the Inca motorway junction, provides another major headache.

Garrido referred to the possibility of special lanes for buses and vehicles with more than two passengers, but accepted that these would be technically complex because of the large number of exits.