A EUR 30 million (USD 37.4 m) loan by the European Investment Bank will enable a transition in Spain’s Balearic Islands from an aged diesel fleet, (mostly over 14 years) to less polluting Compressed Natural Gas (CNG). Public transportation buses in Palma de Mallorca, the capital and largest city of the autonomous community of the islands, will start being replaced this year.
The project will deliver positive environmental benefits thanks to the substitution of Euro II, III, IV and V standard buses with high performance new Euro VI-compliant buses compressed natural gas (CNG) buses.
The Bank (EIB) has signed an agreement with Empresa Municipal de Transportes (EMT) of Palma. The loan will also finance the construction of a new CNG refuelling station and the upgrading of EMT’s IT, fleet management and ticketing systems.
The agreement was signed in Palma today by the EIB’s director of operations in Spain and Portugal, Birthe Bruhn-Leon, and EMT’s manager, Mateu Marcus, in a ceremony attended by Palma’s mayor Antoni Noguera and the mobility councillor, Joan Ferrer. The project is supported by the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the main plank of the European Commission’s Investment Plan for Europe, also known as the Juncker Plan.
By financing this project, the EIB will help to reduce pollutant emissions in Mallorca’s capital. At the same time, the new urban bus fleet will serve to increase transport capacity: some of the new vehicles, especially those employed on the busiest routes, will be longer than existing buses (18 metres rather than 12 metres) and contain more seats. With an average of 40 million passengers a year, EMT is Mallorca’s biggest public transport company.
Violeta Bulc, European Commissioner for Transport, said: “This project is yet another illustration that the Juncker Plan (EC Investment Plan for Europe) is bringing tangible results for Europeans… and for the environment! These new buses will improve the daily lives of commuters, stimulate the local economy and put Palma de Mallorca at the forefront of the transition to low-emission mobility. I hope that this success will encourage many other European cities to follow suit.”
Today’s agreement is the second signed by the EIB under its new Cleaner Transport Facility. The support of the Investment Plan for Europe has enabled the EIB to provide the long-term financing needed to ensure that the project is implemented on schedule.
The renewal of the bus fleet will also bring economic benefits by reducing operating and maintenance costs. The launch of the new vehicles will begin this year and continue until 2023. The project will create 330 jobs during the implementation phase.
The total cost of the fleet renovation is estimated at EUR 60 million.