The Minister of Transport, José Luis Ábalos, said on Sunday that avoiding the spread of coronavirus and guaranteeing mobility must be compatible.

He then promptly announced that public transport by road, rail, air and sea would be reduced by 50%, with the exception of Madrid’s Cercanías suburban railway connections.

Well, as just about everyone but the Minister expected, on Monday morning, the first business day following the introduction of the state of emergency, commuter trains were absolutely packed with travellers who were trying to get to work.

There were far fewer trains but just as many commuters who, as a result, were packed into tiny spaces. So much for respecting personal space!

Many dozens of tweets and posts on social media denounced the situation saying that buses and the Atocha railway station were full of travellers, preventing compliance with the safety distance established by the health authorities.

Criticism of this “serious” situation was swift. “Shame,” wrote Lucia, a user of the Cercanías railway. The Atocha station has been overwhelmed by the influx of travellers, where just a few centimetres separating one from another. “So how do we respect the safety distance … You have no shame,” she tweeted.

The Metro and Cercanías continue to be the main means of transportation for thousands of workers moving around Madrid. In this context, and despite the state of alarm, suburban stations have also been full of passengers.

However, despite complaints from travellers on social networks, Metro de Madrid says that the number of travellers continues to drop significantly.

On Sunday March 15, only 125,477 travellers were registered, 88% less than the same day the previous week, and 46% less than the previous day, Saturday.

“During the rush hour today, Monday, Metro de Madrid said that it transported between 118,000 and 121,000 passengers between 6 and 9 o’clock, which means, with respect to the same day the previous week, the numbers are down by 75.27%, and almost 57% less than the last working day, which was last Friday.”

The Community of Madrid are now saying that the photographs that have been published on social networks showing large crowds in packed carriages are “false” and that they do not correspond to the current transport situation.


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