One year after the inauguration of its first section (see EMTA News nÂ°9), the metro network keeps growing in the second largest Portuguese metropolitan area (1.5 million inhabitants).
The section of 12km (18 stations) inaugurated in December 2002 (Blue line) carried 6 million passengers during its first year of operation, and patronage increased by 30% in the first term of 2004.
The line, operated by the French company Transdev, was extended in June before the European football championship to serve the main Campanha train station and the Dragao Stadium. This fully underground extension of 3.5km has 5 stations (cost of infrastructure: â‚¬165m).
Besides, works are under way for three other lines (Red, Yellow and Green).
A second line (Red) will be inaugurated in October 2004. It will connect the city centre with the Western suburban municipalities of Maia and Matosinhos thanks to a 16.6km line, out of which 9.8km will be shared with the existing Blue line.
5 new stations will be opened on the 6.8km newly built double-track section.
The next one will be the North-South Yellow line that will connect the left bank of Douro River (municipality of Vila Nova de Gaia) with Northern suburbs through the city centre and the metallic Luis I bridge (operations expected for 2005).
Some further extensions are foreseen, including one to serve the Airport from the Red line.
When it is completed, the whole network will consist in 7km of underground section, 16km of newly built surface light rail, and 47km of sections of existing suburban railways.
The total cost for this first phase will amount to â‚¬2.2 billion brought by public authorities.
A second phase comprising 38km of new lines (estimated cost of â‚¬800 m) will be launched soon through a public private partnership so as to involve private funds.
The inauguration of the metro also saw the introduction of a contactless smartcard system called Andante, that is being progressively extended to the other transport modes of the metropolitan area (buses operated by public operator STCP, private suburban buses, and trains of CP national railways).
Andante is managed by TIP (Transportes Intermodais do Porto), a company bringing together the operators involved in the project of fare integration. A methodology based on passenger.kms, vehicle.km and the cost of each transport mode has been devised to share revenues between the operating companies.
Andante is available both as a multi-trip ticket and as a season pass. Both forms are reloadable.
Andante relies on a zonal system (currently 12 zones), that will be enlarged to cover progressively the whole territory (46 zones ultimately).