‘Disgusting, frustrating, nightmare, shambles:’ Residents in Spain’s Costa del Sol vent their feelings at the region’s public transport

Costa del Sol residents are reaching the end of their tether with the disgraceful state of public transport in the region.

With buses running roughly every two hours in the worst-served areas, residents without a car are finding their quality of life impacted and basic necessities incredibly difficult to take care of.

Based on an impromptu Olive Press online poll, over half of respondents said that public transport is a problem for them in the Costa del Sol.

A further 38% agreed that public transport was a problem, despite owning a car and not being directly affected by it.

The number one complaint is that the buses, especially south of Marbella, are just not reliable.

“For somebody that doesn’t have a car, living in this area is a true nightmare,” Louisa Nunn, 62, an expat from Brighton told the Olive Press.

Public transport has been raising the ire of residents in the Costa del Sol who are forced to rely on it in their daily lives

The bus time tables change and are not updated and there’s no way to find out until it’s too late, are among a slew of complaints that the Olive Press heard from readers.

“And there’s never enough buses. Because there’s no train service, there’s no alternative,” Louisa continued.

“So if you want to get into Malaga or Marbella, which are the two main towns where all of the big shops are, like the Cañada shopping centre, you have to get a taxi.

“And not everybody that lives here is wealthy enough to afford a taxi.”

Another related issue is that the buses do not stick to the timetable, are known to leave the station early and not even wait at bus stops until their scheduled time.

“I was in Malaga on Tuesday, and I’m glad I got to the bus station early because the bus left five minutes before time,” Louisa said.

“It’s disgusting because it wasn’t just a minute before. I find it so frustrating because had I been a bit delayed in traffic, I would have missed that and the next one was an hour and a half.”

Retired nurse Michael Lendrum, 56, based in Estepona, who is also vehicle-less, said he would sooner borrow a friend’s car than rely on public transport to get around.

“A bus can come 30 minutes either side of the scheduled time,” he observed.

A central gripe for all residents of the Costa del Sol is the poor accessibility to Malaga airport, even for those with cars who would prefer to take a bus than leave it in airport parking.

Avanza Ebus
Grupo Avanza is the bus company which runs the bus services in Marbella

“With the buses round here, you can’t take a flight before 11am as the first buses won’t get you there before 8.30am,” Michael said.

“My mother jumped in a taxi from the airport to Estepona and it cost her €140.”

Another objection is that the bus routes and times cannot reliably be tracked online on an app such as Google Maps, meaning no one knows when the next bus is coming or even where the bus stops are located.

“I lived in Switzerland for a while and when any public transport was due,” Louisa recounted, “30 seconds before, everybody would stand up if they were sitting down, and then the ride or the bus would arrive.”

Having lived in a number of countries, she puts the Costa del Sol’s stubborn refusal to run a usable public transport system to cultural expectations.

“People just expect it to be awful, and it is. It’s a shambles.”

But others cautioned against opening up the southern Costa del Sol to too much easy access.

“So many people are worried about Estepona changing into a less Spanish, less quaint, more Marbella type of area,” Trevor Hamilton, 71, a retired professional drummer told the Olive Press.

“There is also a concern that it doesn’t start to turn towards a Torremolinos type area,” he added.

“Those kinds of places are very British, very SkySports TV, fish and chips, seafront full of shops selling rubber rings and slippers.”

“As a resident, I would love to have a train. But there’s a huge swell in Estepona that we clearly do not want the town to turn into that.”

Do you have a horror story about public transport in the Costa del Sol? walter@theolivepress.es

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