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Expanded service for municipal buses

Pujada busThe Formentera Council's Office of Transport has reported on new expanded service for the buses run by Autocares Paya S.L., the contract-holder for Formentera's bus service. Yesterday was the first day of service for two lines: 5, which links La Savina, Sant Francesc and Cala Saona, and 7, connecting Es Copinar and Ses Illetes. Service on line 1, which links La Savina port and Es Pujols, has been similarly expanded. That line will run from 7.30am to 9.30pm, with one bus per hour. Line 2 goes from La Savina port to La Mola. Buses on that line leave every two hours from 8.15am to 10.00pm.

Transport councillor Rafael González welcomed the service changes. He said they would mean “clear benefits for tourists and islanders alike” and called them “a step toward sustainable transport”. González indicated Autocares Paya's intent to continue expanding service until June 16, at which point they plan to be at 100%. Line 1 will get an additional morning and evening stop and line 2 will have buses that pass every hour. Line 5 will also receive expanded afternoon service. Councillor González also noted that Formentera's tourist bus, el Bus Turístic, has been operative since April 15. That route connects La Savina port, Ses Illetes, Es Pujols, el Mirador and La Mola lighthouse. There are currently four passages per day, but that will increase to 10. For more information, check out busformentera.com.

Summer hours in effect for parking in la Savina

Aparcament la Savina premsa2The Formentera Council's Office of Transport has announced summer changes to the regulated parking scheme in la Savina. From Sunday May 1, the following changes to blue and green zone parking will take effect: drivers can leave their cars parked a maximum of one day in summer, as opposed to the three-day limit applied in winter. Residents of la Savina, however, can continue parking up to 15 days provided they park in green zone spots. A change will also take place in the hours during which regulated parking is enforced: the daily timetable —which in winter extends from 9.00am-12 midnight— will now be from 9.00am to 9.00pm.

The changes, said transport councillor Rafael González, reflect requests made by residents and tradesmen of la Savina after the first summer of regulated parking. The councillor also announced 45 new parking places in la Savina for scooters, a move motivated by the observation that demand for parking spots outpaced availability. As set out in a municipal ordinance to that effect, there will be a maximum of three scooter parking areas in la Savina.

Crews put park roads to rights

Vial cami estany pudentThe Formentera Council Office of Infrastructure has overseen repairs and grading adjustments on nine roads in the Ses Salines park. Rafael González, the councillor of infrastructure for the Council, reported that “from mid-February to now improvements have been made along 9.6km of earth roads,” prepping the island for this summer's tourists and paving the way for eased traffic flow.

In addition to el camí de s'Estany Pudent and the three arterials that connect it with the main highway, the affected earth roads (camins) include: el camí de Mayans Pujols, el camí de Can Mussenya, el camí del Rocabella, el camí de Ses Illetes and el camí de Llevant.

To avoid disrupting birds during their nesting season, the Council's road works crew worked with the Office of Environment to finish the work before the month of April. The crew is now working on readying roads in the Migjorn area for the coming season. “Most of the repairs are to earth roads that are part of the island's green trails network. These are the roads the transport office would like to see cyclists and pedestrians using more”.

Formentera advocates review of Dénia sea connection

Foto segona sessio debatToday Formentera Council held its second plenary session dedicated to discussing the state of the island. Attendees unanimously adopted a proposal from Gent per Formentera urging authorities “to review and possibly rework the terms” of the current Formentera-Dénia maritime connections “given their impact on Formentera's model of sustainability and safety,” explained transport councillor Rafael González. In the councillor's words, “as a summertime-only route, this a ship that doesn't carry any freight. While it doesn't deliver goods, it does come loaded with vehicles that bring our traffic to a standstill”. González pointed out the fact that Formentera is the only port without a “general interest” connection with the mainland, though he said he hoped the current vote would give Formentera leverage to improve the situation.

Renewable energy

With another proposal from Gent per Formentera, attendees voted unanimously to push the Council to “author a plan to progressively replace traditional power sources with renewable ones in Council buildings”. The initial process, said environment councillor Daisee Aguilera, will involve “singling out areas that can be improved” to later speed up the grant application process once money from the Govern becomes available. Furthermore, said Aguilera, the Council will also use its own budget –either directly or through secondary projects– to promote renewable energy sources.

To that end, all the parties at the session backed the PSOE's proposal envisaging “a joint effort by the Govern Balear and Formentera Council to make Formentera an energy independent island”.

Improvements to central government services

In addition, plenary attendees voted to urge the central government in Madrid to improve the services it administers on Formentera, “the priorities being the tax office, social security, the transportation department, passport and immigration services,” explained councillor of the president's office Bartomeu Escandell. That measure, brought forth by Gent per Formentera, was supported by all.

Another proposal that received unanimous support entails urging the administration “to adapt the conference hall of the Formentera day centre to host the Council's plenary sessions” and “make the associated technological improvements” as well. According to Escandell, the Magic Box, as the hall has been christened, “has got architectural features making it perfectly suitable for CiF plenary sessions.” For councillors it would also mean technological improvements, he said, as well as the possibility of live broadcasts of the sessions.

Political groups also unanimously adopted a measure brought by the Partido Popular to increase the frequency of public buses between la Mola and the rest of the island. Councillor González noted the Council's support for the proposed move but added that such an expansion of the public transport service should “be applied across the entire island”.

Improvements to urban enclaves

Representatives at the plenary also voted in unanimous support of a measure “for continued improvement projects in Sant Ferran, Es Pujols, Ses Bardetes, Es Ca Marí and la Savina.”

They also signed on to a proposal from the socialists to change the time extraordinary plenary sessions on the state of the island start. Participants voted to start such one-off meetings in the afternoon.

Housing

Also noteworthy was a unanimously-supported joint measure from Compromís amb Formentera and the socialist party. According to land management councillor Alejandra Ferrer, the proposal calls on the Council and the regional housing authority (IBAVI) to conduct a study on Formentera housing and work toward the establishment of a “social contract on housing”. Under the proposal, the study should “offer concrete solutions to the problems at hand.”

Agreement to expand summer taxi service on Formentera

Foto parada taxis FormenteraThe Formentera Council (CiF) Office of Transport has clinched an agreement for 2016-17 with the local association of taxi drivers (Associació de Taxistes de Formentera) regarding the local action plan for summertime drivers. “Our goal going into this year’s talks was to improve on the previous plan,” said transport councillor Rafael González, “and that’s what we’ve done. We’ve gone from five seasonal permits to eight.” In addition to providing more driver permits, the new agreement extends the service period from three to four months and allows for an expanded range of driving hours.  

González pointed out that “in 2014 and 2015, seasonal drivers began June 15 and finished September 15,” while this year and next “the summer season will go from the start of June through the end of September.” He also highlighted the extended hours drivers would be allowed to operate – “the timetable has gone from 10.00 am to 10.00 pm to 9.00 am to 1.30 am next day.” The objective, explained González, was to “strike a balance between supply and demand to make sure the service given to residents and tourists was a quality one.” Also important was the task of preventing non-licensed cabs from eating away at the market.

Sustainable vehicles

Another feature of the revised action plan is the requirement that “25 per cent of seasonal taxis be hybrids,” said González, who called the move “a clear step” toward the goal of making local transport more sustainable. Under the new terms, two of the eight seasonal taxis must be hybrids.

Public bid

This week, the terms of the public bid will be published on the BOIB (the official bulletin of the Balearic Islands), after that, drivers will have ten days to present their applications. Applications will be accepted from taxi drivers with a permanent licence in addition to salaried employees that have worked as a driver in Formentera at least four months in the last two years.

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