Step by step, the main regional public transport operator of Funchal, Madeira, is improving its service, by implementing initiatives that provide greater energy efficiency and greater accessibility for all passengers (tourists and residents), focusing on reduced mobility people.
Fleet renovation strategy is an important step to achieve higher quality of service to the population in general and such goal was achieved with the ERDF cofounded - MUSA project. The project consists of the replacement of 30 standard pre euro buses with 5 mini electric buses and 25 EURO VI standard buses, with greater energy efficiency. Such initiative is relevant for the environmental effect on energy saving and CO2 emission, but also especially important because it increases the percentage of vehicles with access by wheelchair from 26.7% to 43.2%.
MUSA project is a core project of the Regional fleet renovation strategy, but also the result of the synergies between two EU relevant Co-Funded projects: DESTINATIONS and DESTI-SMART. It will be funded by the ERDF framework, in accordance with priority 4 of the Operational Program Madeira 14-20, supporting the transition to a low carbon economy.
Both typologies of new vehicles have the possibility to transport wheelchairs, improving the access even for the population with reduced mobility with low floor and low entrance (low entry layout). In addition, the bus accessibility was enhanced reducing the number of entrance steps from 3 to just 1 step. The new buses are also equipped with next stop buttons in Braille designed to support users with visual difficulties, also equipped with a sound system that announces "next stop" inside and outside the bus. This system includes a coloured LCD display inside the vehicles with an indication of the next stop. Also, the smaller dimensions of the new buses allow a better access to narrow urban areas, allowing the circulation in the majority of the public transport network. Furthermore, the new fleet allows a reduction of the environmental impacts.
The first phase of the fleet renovation occurred with the delivery of the 5 mini electric buses. They were publicly presented on 19th September 2019, during also the DESTI-SMART Dissemination Event. The new mini electric buses started operating in a new line since September, promoting intermodality, by connecting the city centre and the Terminal of Funchal Port, which is one of the main gateways of the Region and manages around 500.000 tourists yearly. The remaining 25 EURO VI are part of the second step fleet renovation strategy, and they will be delivered in the near future.