José Alberto León: "The solution for mobility in Tenerife is through public transport"

The insular director of Mobility of the Cabildo de Tenerife, Jose Alberto Leon, defended, during his speech in the Mobility, Transportation and Decarbonization cycle, organized by the Royal Economic Society of Friends of the Country of Tenerife, in collaboration with the Fundación Cultural Canaria de Ingeniería y Arquitectura Betancourt y Molina, that the solution to the serious mobility problems suffered Tenerife it passes “in the medium and long term through public transport” and not just more roads.

León, who recalled that the planning of the island’s roads has been designed for 12 or 15 years, said that the problem will not be easy to correct, nor can it be solved only by building new roads. In fact, he affirmed that “the number of vehicles is growing faster on the Island and that our ability to continue building roads.”

According to their data, every year between 10,000 and 15,000 vehicles are incorporated and “neither cities can continue to absorb all these vehicles, nor can we add one more lane every two or three years on the highways, because the territory is finite.” So, from his point of view, the already planned roads “should be the last we build.”

In fact, he considered necessary an “unpopular measure, but one that is already foreseen in the Island Plan for Sustainable Urban Mobility”: restricting parking in city centers and in the natural areas of the Island. “These areas of our territory” they cannot continue to absorb the continuous mass of vehicles trying to access them at all costs, ”he said.

No diagnosis

Regarding the delay in the execution of the roads, he explained that, although they have been planned for more than a decade, the truth is that, when taking over the area in July 2019, “we found the drawers empty, there was practically nothing to run”. In short, they were “drawn on the map, but there were no layout or construction projects. But, in addition, there was no diagnosis either ”. That is, there were neither maps nor tables of the service levels of the highways, which is the fundamental measure used in the planning of land transport, which quantifies the quality of the service on each of the roads and has several levels, from A, which is the best, and F, which is the worst, in which the vehicles get stuck and do not move.

In his opinion, it is evident that, if a good diagnosis is not made, it is difficult to find solutions to the problems, which is why it was necessary to carry it out to “solve the most pressing mobility problems on the island.”

The priorities

At this point, he recalled that the highways of regional interest are the responsibility of the Government of the Canary Islands and the Cabildo is responsible for “pushing” to start up the essential roads as soon as possible. After the analysis, “the priority ones for the Cabildo are the section of the TF-5 between Santiago del Teide and El Tanque, which is in execution; the sections of the TF-5 between San Juan de la Rambla and Icod, whose project has already been awarded, and the Los Rodeos bypass, which is known as the bypass of the link between Guamasa and La Laguna, in addition to the third lane between La Laguna and Los Realejos and the third lane between San Isidro and Las Américas ”, he explained.

Regarding the rest of the planned roads, he explained that the Highways Area has asked the Canarian Executive to, at least, put out to tender the realization of the layout projects and recalled that the process for a work to be done can take four to five years, and the objective is that, although we do not see them and it corresponds to other public officials, at least steps are taken to make them move forward ”.

One of the roads still waiting for a layout project is the stretch of TF-5 between Los Realejos and San Juan de la Rambla, “a very complex project because it crosses many natural spaces and several proposals have been made that have not arrived to good port ”.

According to León, this month we are waiting for the Government of the Canary Islands to propose several alternatives to decide among all the administrations which is the best alternative for the Island and to begin to draft the draft route “so that, when Once the section between Santiago del Teide and El Tanque and the section between San Juan de La Rambla and Icod de los Vinos are finished, let’s not all get stuck on the way between Los Realejos and San Juan de la Rambla ”.

In this sense, he pointed out that the estimate is that, when the section between Santiago del Teide and El Taque starts up, “between 8,000 and 10,000 vehicles that now go on the TF-5 and move through the South to go to the Las Américas or Arona beach area, they will do it to the north ”. This means adding traffic to some “roads that are already collapsed” and that is why these roads must be executed.

The island director added that, in addition, the Cabildo is starting up different works, such as exits to highways, resurfacing of roads, whose maintenance has been neglected in recent years and various roundabouts that pose congestion problems.

One of the most important works that the island corporation will undertake in the coming years will be the third lane between Guamasa and Los Rodeos in the Santa Cruz direction, with an investment of 40 million euros. “We hope that next year the shovels will be able to be seen working and we think that this section can alleviate traffic jams coming to Santa Cruz and will reduce the time to reach the capital between 15 and 30 minutes,” he explained.

The other great work is “the integral improvement in the roundabout of Padre Anchieta”, which is “a point of absolute collapse at certain times”. To solve this, “the project is to remove traffic from the roundabout by making bypasses and that the road that comes from Geneto will not pass through that roundabout and, in addition to other modifications, we will build a footbridge to avoid pedestrian traffic.”

The island director reiterated that these should be the last roads that we build, except in very specific cases ”. So “in the medium and long term the solution is through public transport”, for which it is necessary to “improve frequencies, services and an economic price”.

León assured that, although it can be improved “the economic price of public transport has been achieved with new vouchers,” since a young man with 30 euros can travel around the island as many times as he wants for a month and a resident over 30 years old by 38. “Maintaining the car costs a lot more,” he said.

In relation to the promotion of public transport, the island official explained that the Cabildo plans to implement “two fundamental instruments.”

The first objective is “to serve the citizens who live in the midlands”, where public transport “does not arrive as often or as quickly as we want.” For these areas it announced the start-up in a maximum of 18 months, “transport on demand of the user through a mobile application.” As he explained, a citizen of any area of ​​the midlands will be able to call a vehicle to make “the first mile and the last mile”, which brings him from his house to the bus stop and when he returns, it will bring him from the stop to his home”.

To verify the effectiveness of this project, a pilot project was carried out between the months of January and May in the area of ​​Arico and Fasnia, “very extensive and sparsely populated,” and “it was very successful,” he said. The pilot project was carried out with TITSA buses, but we want to do it with taxis from the different municipalities.

The other project is the bus-HOV lanes, which will be a reality. In fact, he announced that next week the project for the work of the route between Güímar and Santa Cruz de Tenerife of the TF-1 will be awarded. “There are 25 kilometers of bus-HOV lane with various additions and exits,” he explained. Before the end of the year, it plans to award the work project between La Laguna and Santa Cruz. “These are lanes that are not physical separations, they are based on ITS technology, which allows the reservation of the left lane of the highway for public transport, discretionary and high-occupancy vehicles, with two or more people,” he explained.

At this point he recalled that 85% of the vehicles that circulate on the highways go with a person and “if we manage to start sharing vehicles we will remove many of the roads.” In addition, he pointed out that the bus-HOV lanes will carry twice as many people, although the same number of vehicles pass through them, so “the roads will be lightened.”

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