THE Junta announced this week that it will be extending the special taxi services throughout rural Andalucia.

The project, as part of the long-term plan to combat rural depopulation, will aim to replace long disbanded bus services in low population areas.

Currently, there are just 15 links between villages across Andalucia provided by taxi services, providing vital access for residents that are unable to drive.

In the new scheme, the routes have increased to 44 different pick up and drop off points, many of which have populations of less than 500 people.

What’s more, the Junta has announced that it is financing up to 90% of the cost of the journeys, leaving the client to pay just 10% of the fee.

The scheme is not a new one, a pilot was debut in 2016 with a service between the Moron de la Frontera and Coripe that cost just 2.

“The scheme was a success” said taxi driver Jose Maria Montero to Spanish media outlet ABC Sevilla.

“It was mainly used for the elderly to visit Lidls and clothes shops, but also to the Pozo Blanco Hospital, we also had a number of students that used me to travel to sit exams.”

Montero however worries that the current offering is not enough.

“Currently we only have two services per week, on a Monday and Wednesday, but we are stuck if for example a doctor needs to go to an appointment on a Tuesday.”

According to the Junta, the schedule has been decided depending on the region, with between two and five per week .

The new taxi routes have been split between Almeria (ten), Seville (nine), Granada (six), Jaen (five), Cordoba (four), Cadiz (two) and Malaga (two).

Huelva will also join later this year with six new routes planned.

The Junta has allocated a budget of 500,000 to the project, and a specialised call centre has been earmarked for January to organise requests for the trips, as well as the launch of a mobile app.

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