BIG Price Raise in Madrid Public Transportation

Starting 1 May 2012, end-users of Madrid’s Public Transportation System will feel the sting of the sharpest price raises in 10-years. This raise takes place at the same time as the prices of gasoline, electricity and natural gas go up while salaries go down, are frozen or jobs are lost altogether.

End-users of public transportation currently pay 39% of Madrid’s public transportation costs and the rest is was subsidized by the City and State. But due to Madrid’s and Spain’s transportation budget cuts for the city’s transportation system, 11% and 26% respectively, a price “modification” has been called necessary and riders will now pay more of their fair share.

The “modification” affects not only the metro & buses systems, but also the Madrid Airport Express Shuttle Bus, about which I have been singing their praises for the last year. This one-time economical alternative to a private taxi ride will raise prices from 2€ to a whopping 5€ per trip between the Madrid Airport and downtown Madrid. That’s brutal!

To make things more aggravating is the change in price-structure for metro trips. Since the beginning of time, you could ride ’round-and-’round a million times for the price of a single ticket. Starting 1 May 2012, the price-per-ride will depend on the number of stations you’ll pass.  1-5 metro stations will cost 1.50€. From 6-10 stations the price will be “variable” – whatever THAT means! 10+ stations will cost 2€. What fun it’ll be trying to figure this out – especially for the elderly which may not take the metro very often.

Contrary to (possible) popular belief, the Madrid Metro system and EMT bus systems are not the property of the City of Madrid. Theses are for-profit companies with strong ties to the city. But since subsidies were cut, they’ve raised prices, forcing riders to pay more of the actual cost-per-trip. This does sound fair, doesn’t it? It does to me. But such a fierce raise of 29% for the 10-trip ticket, for example? That’s like something throwing a bucket of cold water on you while you’re sleeping!

No one can do without public transportation – except the well-to-do, of course – so we’ll pay the price they ask. We have no alternative. That just means we’ll have less money for food, gas and electricity at the end of the month. It also means we’ll have less to spend on clothing, movie tickets, eating out, and lounging on outdoor terrace bars. This means those entities will then suffer, they’ll close their doors and/or lay-off more people. And spiraling down the drain we all go… We can have a protest march, sure, but we’ll be protesting against the for-profit entities which operate the public transportation systems. And as everyone knows, they have their bottom-lines to consider. Or, we could protest against the budget cuts made by the state. We’ve already done that – and with no positive result. A group of people can unite against a common cause, yes, but if your elected officials pay no attention, then what can you do? What choice do we have?

Sources: Madridiario, Metro de Madrid, EMT

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