The Metro - one of the services that is currently free to residents. | Archive

Up to July, the cost of free public transport in Mallorca was 10.1 million euros. This is the amount that the Balearic government would have taken in from bus, rail and Metro travel had it not been free.

The Spanish government's 2023 budget allocated 14.6 million euros for this plus a further 18.8 million for Palma buses. Where the former is concerned, the estimate is that the cost for the whole year will be around 17 million. The Balearic government will have to bear the cost of the difference - 2.4 million.

The payment by the Spanish government has yet to be made, but the Balearic ministry for mobility is confident that it will receive the money shortly; a cabinet meeting on September 5 approved the transfer of funds.

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The 2.4 million euros shortfall can be explained by a higher than anticipated demand for intermodal travel cards. Up to August, 119,307 cards processed, of which 99,275 were first issues. For the whole of 2022, there were 122,723 cards, the free transport having started last autumn. The Balearic government has received Spanish government payment for last year - around three million euros.

At present, it's not certain if the free transport scheme will continue in 2024. The Pedro Sánchez government is currently operating in an acting capacity and cannot therefore bring new bills to Congress. The 2024 budget is one such bill, and the subsidies for transport are a feature of this.

Given the shortage of time and the uncertainty surrounding the next Spanish government, it is highly likely that the 2023 budget will be extended. But there are doubts as to whether subsidies of this type can be extended as well.

* Public transport in Mallorca is free to residents who have the necessary card; it is not free to visitors.