Mobility Portal, Spain
Date: February 7, 2024
Inés Platini
By Inés Platini
Spain flag

Critical state in the eBus sector in Spain?: “They promise aid and it still hasn’t arrived”

Four years after the pandemic, the bus sector is beginning to see "light at the end of the tunnel," indicating a significant recovery. Despite this, Confebus emphasizes the importance of fulfilling the aid promised by the government.
Jaime Rodríguez, Director of Confebus.
Jaime Rodríguez, Director of Confebus.

Over the past year, Spain led electric bus registrations in the European Union with a notable growth of 269.7 per cent and over 400 units sold.

Thus, a recovery in the sector has been consolidated after the crisis experienced in recent years due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

This progress was driven by strong results in the tourism sector and a positive policy promoting public transportation through ticket fare discounts.

In this context, with the aim of continuing in this direction, Jaime Rodríguez, Director of Confebus, points out to Mobility Portal España the importance of fulfilling the aid announced by Óscar Puente in December 2023.

Accumulated data for the first 11 months indicate that demand has exceeded pre-pandemic figures by 0.63 per cent.

Despite this, Confebus maintains that a significant debt persists in the sector’s companies, which resorted to indebtedness as a survival measure and are still in the process of balancing their financial accounts.

This has led to about 12 per cent of national bus companies, approximately 400, disappearing.

To address this issue, the European Union has allocated a substantial sum of funds for implementing aid programs.

One of them focuses on acquiring sustainable vehicles, whether electric, hydrogen, hybrid, or gas.

One has been granted to municipalities, but currently has no new calls, while the other has been directed to private companies, with the financing window closing on April 30.

“To carry out this investment, it is necessary to implement aid programs that encourage the sector to avail them, covering all technologies,” emphasizes Rodríguez.

Recently, the Minister of Transport stated that a new mechanism is being developed to identify the most suitable system for promoting the renewal of the professional road transport fleet.

The proposal would involve implementing a program funded with Spain’s own funds with the aim of updating the vehicle fleet.

Regarding this initiative, Rodríguez highlights: “So far, we know nothing about it.”

In addition to promoting the modernization of the fleet and the transition to more sustainable buses, the sector faces other challenges that are high on the to-do list.

One of them is the shortage of bus drivers, a situation that affects not only Spain but the entire European Union.

According to a report by IRU, the number of driver vacancies in the continent increased by 54 per cent in 2023.

This translates to Europe having 105,000 unfilled positions, representing 10 per cent of the total.

This phenomenon is partly attributed to the lack of interest from young people in taking up these jobs.

If measures are not implemented to attract and retain drivers, the EU could face over 275,000 unfilled positions by 2028.

And this is not the only challenge the sector is currently facing.

Currently, there are discounts on public transportation in the country.

However, these must be accompanied by other measures, such as promoting bus use among users.

Although eBuses play a crucial role in providing urban services, support for the sector is also needed in all these aspects.

In 2023, out of the 4,500 registered vehicles, more than 3,500 are new, while less than 1,000 are second-hand, representing 17.5 per cent.

Meanwhile, around 60% of these are diesel.

CONFEBUS requests changes to the Sustainable Mobility Law

In addition to managing the obtaining of these incentives for the guild, the Confederation insists on the need to enact a law that “addresses the comprehensive financing of the system and improves the quality of public transport.”

Mid-month, the Council of Ministers will send the draft of the Sustainable Mobility Law to the General Courts for debate and, finally, approval.

However, there are aspects that the sector considers essential to include in the financing.

“We understand that the entire system and the adaptation of the map of lines of the state bus service should be covered,” emphasizes Jaime Rodríguez.

It should be noted that the text of this draft law was sent to the Spanish Parliament in December 2022.

Due to early general elections, it became ineffective.

Now that it has been resumed, many requests from various associations to modify certain points of the draft have been set aside.

It is expected that the Law will finally be approved before the end of 2024.

Separator Single Post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *