Wednesday, August 17

Almeida municipalizes Bicimad, the Madrid public bike service that Bottle launched privatized

On June 23, 2014, the first municipal rental bicycle began to ride in Madrid. It was mounted by Ana Botella, the mayor who launched the service recovering an idea from Gallardón from 2009 that was stopped by the economic crisis. She did it following a common model in PP governments: outsourcing the entire system to a private company (Bonopark), in exchange for a hefty contract (about 20 million euros).

Almeida will expand and make Bicimad more flexible: 600 stations and 8,250 bicycles before 2025

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“Today is a historic day because the city incorporates an essential element to advance in sustainable mobility”, said Botella in his inaugural speech, which described Bicimad as “the piece of the puzzle that until now was missing” in the mobility of the city. But the service did not start off on the right foot: the first day saw many technical problemswhich would multiply during the following months until the system almost collapsed two years later.

After eight years of service, Bicimad becomes publicly managed. The Madrid City Council has approved this Thursday in the Governing Board that the Municipal Transport Company (EMT) assume the complete management of the service and entrusts its expansion to the 21 districts of the capital (now it is 15), tripling its number of bikes. Almeida bets on an unusual municipalization in governments of his political sign and against which he fought when he was in the opposition.

The Mobility area recognized a few months ago that having privatized the management in its day was not the best option: “The service is attached to a 2013 contract that prevents it from having flexibility to improve its management and adjust it to the reality of the municipality. , to the needs of the administration to promote sustainable mobility and the demands of all citizens”, he explained in a press release justifying the municipalization, negotiated with the Joint Group as part of the budget agreement for 2022.

The City Council does not hide that the fundamental reason for this recovery of public management is to “accelerate the extension to all the districts of the city”, the municipal spokesperson, Inmaculada Sanz, explained this Thursday when communicating the news. The current contract had reached its limits both in stations and number of bikes.

This step comes after almost a year of service falling from grace by its subscribers, who are counted in fewer numbers with each passing week: their use has fallen back to levels of five years ago, despite the fact that the pandemic had driven initially the massive use of the bicycle by the people of Madrid.

When the bureaucratic procedures are completed, Bicimad will be managed by the EMT, the company to which the Bonopark contract was assigned during Manuela Carmena’s mandate, with criticism and even complaints in court by Almeida. In May 2016, the municipal company paid 9.4 million for the transfer, which included all the devices, stations and service technology. Almeida came to ask the then mayor to recognize “all the outrages they have done” and to ask “forgive the people of Madrid.” “They are going to answer in court for what they have done”, she came to affirm in 2018. The complaints were dismissed when there were a few days left for the 2019 elections and definitively dropped in October of that same year.

Today, the former manager of the EMT, Álvaro F. de Heredia, celebrates the municipal decision to take over the service: “Renewing Bicimad for a new system and moving to direct management are good decisions that they will be able to make thanks to the funds from the Government of Spain ”, he explains in statements to this newspaper. “It is striking that it has taken more than three years and now things are done in a hurry to reach elections, I am glad that they do not have an irresponsible and Manichaean opposition like the one they exercised in their day,” he points out.

The former manager recalls the context in which the decision to take on the Bonopark contract was made: “In the last legislature we found an abandoned system that we had to raise through the EMT with widespread recognition by everyone. That cost us a political lawsuit from Almeida’s PP for embezzlement – when now they are going to invest much more in relative terms – and for prevarication because they alleged that the intention was to transfer it to direct management, which they opposed, and that now they are also going to process”, recalls questions from Somos Madrid.

The figures of the expansion

Bicimad’s growth will occur thanks to the NextGeneration funds from the European Union authorized for Madrid by the Government of Pedro Sánchez. With them, a contract now in competition will be financed that plans to buy up to 8,250 bicycles (750 of them in reserve) to significantly increase the current fleet, which has 2,964 devices.

There will be at least one station per district and its number will multiply from the 258 stops to the 620 planned from the municipalization. The idea of ​​​​the Mobility area is that the deployment begins before the municipal elections next year, but the development of 100% of the contract tendered by the EMT will extend to the year 2025.

The deadlines, however, are going to be delayed a bit, since the direct management of Bicimad was not approved in the last Mobility commission this week, as planned, and it cannot be ratified in the plenary session that will be held in a few days. , so we will have to wait for the return from vacation to start the whole process. The Almeida government hopes to complete the municipalization “in the fall,” the municipal spokeswoman explained on Thursday.