Those using buses to commute on their holidays this summer are in luck, as the rates for most of the public medium to long-distance coaches have fallen.
This is due to the automatic updating of the tariffs on the 1st of July, which saw a 0.2% drop from 2016.
There are 86 coach lines, that are operated by several companies, including: Alsa, Avanza, Samar, Socibus and Damas, which transported around 30 million passengers in 2016, compared to 28.5 million the previous year.
Since 2007, the number of travellers have fallen due to competition from other means, such as the train or the plane, but last year was the first time they saw an increase in users in the last decade.
As well as being an advantage for passengers, it is also for the bus companies, as it will help with the “fierce competition” that they are currently struggling with, which previously led them to bid for discounts for their passengers of up to 50%. This is the case of the lines between Madrid-Algeciras, Madrid-Segovia, Alicante-Cartagena-Murcia, Zaragoza-Burgos, Irún-Algeciras or Calahorra-Soria, among others. It has been said that travellers have also been deterred from using the coaches because of the poor quality of the service.
The Minister of Public Works, Íñigo de la Serna, has announced that he will modify the contract specifications of the routes to give more importance to the technical-side and quality of the public transport too. The president of Confebus, Rafael Barbadillo, says that the coach transport sector has started to see the first signs of recovery after a long crisis, thanks to the general economic improvement and the effort of companies. The vehicles have been modernised to make them more attractive for travellers, with on-board entertainment systems, telephone charging outlets, Wi-Fi and even catering.
However, he complains that, compared to the millions of euros subsidies received by other means of transport, such as the train (with the almost complete subsidy of the construction of railways), no investment is made in the necessary infrastructures for coaches. Due to this, many coach drivers are calling for a new plan for the 60 main bus stations in cities with more than 100,000 inhabitants. This would only mean an investment of 120 million euros and would benefit 650 million travellers a year. Calls for the creation of reversible bus lanes in major cities are also being called, in attempt to decongest traffic and make travelling by coach more attractive.