Traffic jams are back: car traffic inside the M-30 already reaches 90% of the pre-Covid stage

If anyone hoped that the coronavirus pandemic would mean the end of traffic jams in Madrid, the illusion has disappeared. Traffic jams have returned in force to the capital and, in fact, private transport traffic within the M-30 already reaches 90% of the pre-Covid stage.

Public transport is also recovering little by little, but at a slower pace and still is 65% from before the coronavirus crisis.

The ascent is gradual and last Friday, May 7, the record of passengers in public transport was reached. with 3.6 million, since last March 14, 2020 the state of alarm was decreed. But the figure is still far from reaching the five and a half million users a day before the pandemic.

However, private vehicle traffic has been restored to cruising speed. Nine out of ten cars that were displaced before the pandemic are already circulating again in the central almond. Outside the M-30, the percentage drops around 80%, explains the delegate of Mobility and Environment of the City Council of the city, Borja Carabante.

How is it possible that with thousands of employees in Erte or teleworking we are at 90% of the traffic of before the Covid? The explanation is in the transfer of passengers that has occurred from public to private transport.

In the worst moments of the pandemic, citizens were wary of getting on the subway or bus for fear of contagion. In fact, during the lockdown months of 2020, travel plummeted 93%.

Another reason for this transfer has been the low traffic that has been in the city for a few months, with which it was circulated by car with great fluidity, something very difficult to experience in a city with great traffic jams.

People took less time to go to work by car than by train or subway because it arrived in a short time. However, the traffic truce that caused the pandemic seems to have come to an end and since the start of 2021, traffic jams have been increasing.

In the opinion of Luis Miguel Martnez Palencia, the director of the Madrid Regional Transport Consortium, this situation will force citizens to to go back to public transport: Before, the circulation was agile, but now the arteries are saturated again. People are no longer worth the time traveling by car and returning to public transportation. We still have two million travelers to go. The subway or the bus has never been shown to be vectors of contagion.

The public transport figures last year were dramatic and 741 million travelers were lost compared to 2019. The fateful 2020 closed with a total of 859,612,220 users, which is the lowest figure since 1974 and a hard blow for this modality that had been in constant growth for years, according to data from the Regional Consortium of Transport.

The fluctuations during the past year were constant. With the arrival of the Covid, a total collapse, which touched down the week of April 6 with only 411,092 travelers. After that debacle, the number of bus and subway passengers grew gradually until the summer, when the week of July 6 reached 2,481,027.

During the summer holidays there was a decline, as usually happens on those dates, but the figures were recovering until December 14 with 3,266,008 travelers.

Filomena’s snowfall was again a hard blow and passengers plummeted again, reaching 1,651,770 in the week of January 11. Since that date, the recovery has been constant, with the exception of Easter, until reaching the record of May 7 with 3,632,731 users.

Bike rise

Another change in mobility brought about by the coronavirus is the increase in the number of cyclists traveling through the city. There has been a bicycle boom. In October of last year, we made a mobility record with 17,000 uses in Bicimad and, on Friday, May 7, we broke another record with 16,214 uses of Bicimad, declares Borja Carabante.

The delegate of Mobility and Environment also highlights that there has not only been an increase in the routes of cyclists, but also of pedestrians. If before many people get on the bus to go two or three stops, now those itineraries are done on foot and public transportation is used for longer distances.

The positive part of the pandemic is that there has been a full awareness of the need to choose by sustainable modes of transport. It has been seen all over the world, with determined actions such as in Paris, London and Barcelona, ​​among other cities, and I hope it will be seen progressively in Madrid, says Julin Sastre, president of the Mobility Institute.

However, from Ecologists in Action they regret that the pandemic has not been used to make a decided bet for the use of the bicycle, as happens in other cities such as Amsterdam or Copenhagen, where it accounts for around 40% of trips.

Madrid is an exception when it comes to cycling in Europe. This is the result of the Community’s policies of always favoring private vehicles and solving traffic jams with more lanes. Madrid is the European metropolitan area with a greater concentration of motorways and highways. We are at the levels of Los Angeles and Singapore, which are the most congested cities in the world, points out Paco Segura, coordinator of the NGO.

He also criticizes the ruling of the Supreme Court that has overthrown Madrid Central, since it is a measure that has managed to reduce pollution by 22%. It is not understood that Almeida litigates against Madrid Central and then say you are going to keep it. Now he finds himself with the brown of having to postpone the execution of the sentence to have time to elaborate an alternative plan that will be very similar to Madrid Central, Segura argues.

In short, the great changes in mobility issues that were going to occur with the Covid have remained in borage water and some experts believe that the final balance has not been positive.

Collective transport has not been in demand as before and transfer to the bicycle has not been so great either. There are cities like Paris and London where there has been a very strong increase in cycling, because it has been accompanied by certain policies with a clear commitment to segregated bike lanes and not integrated into the road, concludes Gustavo Romanillos, director of the Smart and Sustainable Cities Master.


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