The second phase of the Tranvia tram system in Vélez-Málaga was completed almost two years ago now, but there is still no sign of it actually becoming operational.
The Council continues to press for financial assistance from the Junta de Andalucia, a preferential loan being one option, as it sees the extended route as being crucial to the success of the Tranvia tram system.
According to the Councillor for Transport, Antonio López, such assistance, already given to Jaén, was promised by the former president of the Junta de Andalucia Manuel Chaves. However, it has not been forthcoming and the Council is sinking further into debt with, amongst others, the operator of the tram system, Travelsa.
Calls to Sevilla to check on progress with an agreement, apparently made on a weekly basis, have yielded nothing so far except further delays as a result of changes in personnel and the need for the new people involved to ‘catch up with the project’.
According to the Council, the extended route will result in more passengers using the service and should lead to a reduction in the ‘technical rate’.
The technical rate is, basically, the operating cost based upon an anticipated number of users of the system and currently stands at €1.68. The actual ticket price is fixed at €1.30, and the Council agreed to pay Travelsa the difference between the actual ticket price and the technical rate, namely €0.38, for all unsold tickets. That is to say, for all unsold tickets below the anticipated number of users, not the actual number of users.
The estimates of numbers of users of the tram, which increases each year, has always been (optimistically) way over actual usage, and the Council has built up a huge debt with Travelsa.
Travelsa will not put the second phase into operation until the Council pays off at least some of its debt. In addition, Travelsa have now apparently submitted a proposal to raise the technical rate to €2.94 to cover increased operating costs, wear and tear on tram wheels and to cover the costs of (non)implementation of phase two.
Over-optimism on passenger numbers is costing the municipality dearly.