Light metro system could cost up to €300 million
A major project to build a 38km rapid transit system to link the Algarve towns of Olhão, Faro and Loulé by light metro has been announced by the Portuguese government.
“This project is a truly structural project to link three municipalities that, while being neighbours, are in reality at a huge distance if they are not properly connected,” said Prime Minister António Costa in Olhão, where he attended the presentation included in the roadmap of the “Closer Government” initiative which started on Wednesday and ends this Thursday in the Algarve.
The light metro between Olhão, Faro and Loulé will be 38km-long and have 24 stops, serving around 185,000 residents in the three districts (40% of the Algarve’s population), of which 70,000 live within 600 metres from a stop, according to a preliminary study presented on Wednesday.
Preliminary calculations of the total costs of the project indicate it could reach up to €300 million no matter whether electric or hydrogen vehicles are used.
Said the PM, the government is “helping boost the economic base of the entire region” with this project, adding thar the investment should still be made during the structural funds programming period that ends in 2030.
The future line will feature stops at three railway stations – Parque das Cidades near the Algarve Stadium, Bom João in Faro, and Olhão) – and at “fundamental” facilities and services in the region, such as Faro International Airport (which welcomes an average of nine million passengers per year and is home to 5,000 workers) and the Gambelas hub of the University of the Algarve (5,300 students).
According to the study, around 40,000 journeys per day could be made – with possible extensions of the line to Albufeira and Fuzeta still being considered.
“I’m well aware that it’s not always easy for local councils to work together, especially on a project that doesn’t specifically serve any one of them, but which only makes total sense if all three are served together,” added António Costa.
Meanwhile, the chairman of the Algarve Coordination and Development Commission (CCDR), José Apolinário, said the presentation ceremony signified the “kick-off” of a project which could be of vital importance to the region.
The study was developed by CCDR, which evaluated five possible routes as well as different “technological options.”
This is the second edition of the “Closer Government” which aims to “reinforce territorial cohesion,” after the first edition of this format was held on January 25 and 26 January in Castelo Branco.
According to the government, “proximity contacts will be privileged” – in other words, “listening to local representatives and promoting the economic and social development of the region.”
António Costa had already attended the laying of the first stone of 49 houses in Bairro de Montenegro, in Faro, and after the stop in Olhão he went on to the inauguration of the new PSP police station in Vila Real de Santo António, ending the day with a dinner in the Algarve capital.