The cabinet yesterday placed the SFM rail operator in charge of the extension to the Palma metro. This will go from the university to the ParcBit technology park, cost 6.9 million euros and is due to be operational some time in early 2020.
The government believes that the extension will make an "important" contribution to cutting the use of private vehicles. On average, some 3,000 people go to work at ParcBit. Around 85% of them use their own cars.
The project will take six months to design, and once a tender is awarded, work will start next summer. The cost is being met from the rail-building budget for the Sa Pobla and Manacor electrification. This was originally put at 50 million euros but was subsequently reduced by ten million. As with the electrification, 50% of the cost will be met by the government and the other half will come from the European Regional Development Fund.
Transport minister Marc Pons said yesterday that the line to ParcBit will form part of the new rail network contemplated in the future mobility general plan. The government is also looking at the possibility of extending the metro to Son Espases Hospital. The metro extension will be a "key" element in Palma's transport and within the whole public transport network.
The project hasn't yet got the green light environmentally. The Balearic Environment Commission has to give its approval. The line, around 1.5 kilometres long, will require excavation and the building of a tunnel. Once operational, it would mean a fifteen-minute journey from the centre of Palma to ParcBit.
Metro use increased from 687,000 in 2015 to 793,000 last year. Most recent monthly figures - for March - showed an increase in passenger numbers from 79,000 last year to almost 86,000 this year.