Global Cities survey 2011: FCC and Comsa encourage use of public transport


Laurence Neville
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In common with city authorities worldwide, the city of Murcia in southeastern Spain has invested heavily to improve public transportation and reduce congestion caused by traffic. Line one of the Murcia Tramway – which runs 18 kilometres and has 28 stations – was constructed from July 2009 to February 2011: more than 5.5 million passengers are expected to use the 11 trains during the first year of operation. The €263.80 million project is based on a model concession for the construction and operation of the line over 40 years. The concession was awarded in early 2009 to FCC and Comsa (the second-largest unlisted infrastructures, services, engineering and systems company in Spain). The work was financed through equity provided by the two companies and also limited-recourse bank debt.

While the ambition to reduce congestion and the methods of construction and financing of Murcia’s tramway are fairly typical, FCC adopted a novel approach to encouraging citizens to forget about their cars – literally. In a bid to promote the tram, a competition was established with the winner receiving a lifetime pass for unlimited use of the tramline. In return entrants must be willing to swap their car – which must have passed a roadworthiness test, have up-to-date road taxes and be free of any financing contract. The cost of this swap was valued at €360 a year and is paid by private companies acting as sponsors that want to join the initiative and promote themselves. To date, one pass has been awarded and further competitions are set to follow.