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EuskoTran in Bilbao, Spain on grassed track
Abandoibarra stop, with ticket canceller

EuskoTran ("BasqueTram") is the name of the company that operates the metre gauge tramway systems in Bilbao and Vitoria-Gasteiz, in the Basque Country (Spain).

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Bilbao tram

Built in 2002 as a complement to the Bilbao metro, the Bilbao tram is often described as one of the most modern public transport systems in the world[1]. 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 riverfront, past the Bilbao Guggenheim Museum.

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 system is currently 6.4 kilometers (4 mi) 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.

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Stops in line A

EuskoTran line A map

Vitoria-Gasteiz tram

Vitoria tram map.
Vitoria Gasteiz tram.

The Vitoria tram is also operated by EuskoTran and started service on December 23 2008. Construction works started on september 2006, and connects the most distant neighbourhoods of the city with the city center. It consists of a central line with two branches, an end to end trip takes 17 minutes. Only the first branch (Landabere) is operational as of 2009, the other branch (Abetxuko) will open in the next months.

Total network length when complete will be about 9 kilometers.

Projected lines in the Basque Country

Rolling stock

Bilbao tram unit in Navarra street.

Each 25 m (82 ft) 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 citizens if Bilbao initially considered the new system to be no more than a public-image exercise, since it was no cheaper to ride than the metro. BEfore the line became fully operational it was not unusual to see nearly empty trams. However, patronage has increased steadily with the enlarging of the line and the trams offer excellent sightseeing possibilities for visitors wanting to see "the new Bilbao".

In Vitoria, many residents initially opposed the project in 1995 and the network had to be preplanned in 2004 to cover more neighborhoods. After its inauguration, the Vitoria tram has become a successful means of transport in the city, although there are some safety concerns. [2]

External links

References


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