EuskoTran

EuskoTran

EuskoTran ("BasqueTram") is the name of the metre gauge tramway system in Bilbao, Spain. Built in 2002 as a complement to the Bilbao metro, it is often described as the most modern public transport system in the world. The trams travel at speeds of up to 50 km/h (31 mph) but do not make much more noise than a car. The grass covered tracks (as seen in the photo) run along the Nervion river, past the Bilbao Guggenheim Museum and San Mamés stadium.

History

Bilbao had had trams (also metre gauge) before – horse-drawn from 1876 and electrically powered from 1896 – but they had all gone by the end of 1964, gradually replaced from 1940 by a system of trolleybuses, which were themselves to disappear by 1978.

The network

The system is currently in length and runs from Basurto to Atxuri. There are 12 stops along the line, and the end-to-end journey takes 15 minutes. It is covered by the Creditrans pre-paid travelcard scheme for local public transport.

Three new stops will be added to the line by 2009, connecting the current terminal stop of Basurto with the southern neighbourhood of Rekalde.

Future plans envisage extending the system by connecting the two end stations, turning the system into a complete loop around the city centre. Further expansion will also see lines extending both eastward and westward along the river.

Stops in line A

Projected lines in the Basque Country

Rolling stock

Each long tram can carry 192 people, 50 of them seated (about the capacity of three buses). Access to the trams is at platform level, making it easy for handicapped passengers to get on and off through the tram's eight doors. Speakers in the trams play music and announce each stop.

Ridership

Many Bilbao people initially considered the new system to be a public-image exercise, since it was no cheaper to ride than the metro. At first, before the line was fully operational, it was not uncommon to see nearly empty trams. However, patronage has increased steadily and the trams offer excellent sightseeing possibilities for visitors wanting to see "the new Bilbao".

External links

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