€400m boost for Milan’s public transport

But planned hike in Milan ticket price sparks protest.

Good and bad news for commuters and tourists in Milan: while central government has earmarked €396.5m for improvements to the city’s urban transport network, city hall has announced an increase from €1.50 to €2.00 for a single ride, starting 1 January 2019.

The improvements financed by the grant will include better access and connections for the new M4 metro line. New signalling circuits on the M2 line will enable the insertion of new trains, to boost the capacity by 20 per cent during the rush hour. And 50 new and more efficient trams will be added to the surface fleet.

But mayor Beppe Sala’s announcement that the price for a single ticket is to be increased by one third at the start of next year has stirred almost 20,000 residents to sign an on-line petition against the hike.

Sala said the raise was necessary because the Lombardy regional administration, which should cover the difference between operating costs and ticket revenues, has not come up with the cash needed.  Urban transport in Milan costs €826m a year, while tickets and season-tickets bring in only €390m, Sala said.

Milan’s city transport system is arguably one of the most efficient in Italy, with trains and buses running frequently and mainly on time.  But the current €1.50 charge for a single ride, increased from €1 in 2011, is already Italy’s most expensive, along with the same price in Rome, where the service is strongly criticised for inefficiency, and Turin.

The new price, if a solution is not found in time, would place Milan close to prices in Paris (€1.90) and Barcelona (€2.15).  Some commentators have observed that Sala’s announcement may be only a trigger to unlock the regional funding and make the raise unnecessary – but for the moment, it is being written into the city budget, which must be approved by 28 February.