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TRANSPORT

Threat of Spanish transport strikes looms as Holy Week approaches

Spanish travellers face a range of transport woes during Holy Week as air and rail unions on Friday called for walkouts.

Threat of Spanish transport strikes looms as Holy Week approaches
File photo: AFP

Pre-Easter processions are scheduled all over the predominantly Catholic country this week through to Easter Sunday on April 21st.

Millions traditionally go away for a few days during this time of year, which is one of the most important holiday periods, alongside August and Christmas.

Airport unions USO and UGT have called on some 60,000 ground staff to go on strike on Easter Sunday and on April 24th as they demand that employers' rights be carried over when they switch from one company to another.

Pilots' union Sepla also called for stoppages by its Air Nostrum pilots on April 15th, 16th, 17th, 22nd, 23rd and 24th in protest over plans to outsource flights to other companies within the same group, Ilai.

“The Sepla strike will force Air Nostrum to cancel 148 flights next week,” the carrier said, adding that “some 10,000 passengers will be affected by the cancellations in the first three days” of stoppages.

Rail unions have also called a strike on April 17th to force the Spanish state to sign up to a collective bargaining agreement.

Meanwhile, the train drivers' union, Renfe, has called off a stoppage planned for April 23rd saying bosses have made concessions with regard to some of their demands.

READ ALSO: How strikes in Spain could ruin your Easter travel plans

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TECHNOLOGY

Malaga to trial Spain’s first self-driving bus

Spain’s first self-driving bus will begin to take public passengers from this Saturday, February 20th.

Malaga to trial Spain's first self-driving bus
Image: Largeroliker / WikiCommons

Created as part of the AutoMOST R + D + I project in participation with Avanza bus company and Malaga City Council, the 12-metre electric bus features autonomous driving technology and will be a revolutionary addition to the transport system.

The mayor of Malaga, Francisco de la Torre, companied by the president of the Port of Malaga Authority, Carlos Rubio, and the general director of Avanza, Valentin Alonso were the first to ride in this driverless bus.

Mayor de la Torre said “Malaga has been a pioneer in creating ways to improve life in the city”. “We were also the first city to implement contactless cards on buses,” he added.

The self-driving bus is the first of its kind to circulate in real traffic and will be in operation on line 90 from the Maritime Station in the port area to the Paseo del Parque in the front of the City Hall.

Malaga will become the first European city to implement this new autonomous driving technology in a bus, which is also environmentally friendly, run fully on electricity and which produces zero emissions.

The city council said in a statement that this move reinforces Malaga’s commitment to sustainable mobility and the use of new technologies adapted to transport.

In previous projects, self-driving tests have only been carried out using smaller vehicles, not the standard 12-metre buses that are in daily circulation around the city.

12-metre buses are the world standard, so in theory it will be possible to implement this same type of technology in other models of the same size around the world.

In order for the technology to work, Malaga City Council has invested 180,000 euros in smart traffic lights, which communicate with the bus telling it when to go and stop.

Initially the self-driving bus will run for three weeks, but the traffic lights will remain in place, allowing for the implementation of other self-driving systems in the future, such as driverless cars.

For the next three weeks, residents can ride the self-driving bus completely free of charge. It will operate from Saturday February 20th to March 13th, from Tuesdays to Saturdays 9:30am to 2:30pm.

You can book a ticket on the bus in advance by visiting www.emtmalaga.es

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