No car? No Problem! Affordable Mallorca’s guide to easy public transport - island wide!
On a bus your eyes, ears and pores are absorbing in the variety, the wonder and the magic of the city. It’s a wonderful way to get to know a place.’- George Takei
Public transport is often looked down upon by those with their own means of travel. The simultaneous sound of tutting fills the bus shelter, as the driver arrives five minutes late or the constant chatter of business people on their mobiles raises the eyebrows of fellow passengers sandwiched like sardines on the railway coach. Yes, it doesn’t appear the most glamorous way to travel or the most relaxing. However, here on the island of Mallorca we are lucky enough to benefit from a great service on both the railways and buses, as well as an army of fabulous taxi drivers across the island.
The Bus #
The city of Palma operates two bus services:
- TIB- Serving the entire island
- EMT- City buses designed for speedy transport around the vast city centre of Palma
These buses are easily identifiable by their colours. TIB are red and yellow whilst EMT sport shades of blue and white.
During main holiday season from May to October, bus services operate, tomost parts of the island, on an hourly basis- meaning easy access to every corner of Mallorca, no matter where you are. Whilst the winter service is far more limited, it still operates a few times per day ensuring that all residents can access the city, or other areas, relatively easily. Prices vary depending on your location and the lengthof your journey, but many routes are within the region of 5-15€, with saver tickets available. Check online at www.tib.org for further details.
The EMT services operate all year round, and are incredibly regular (every 15 minutes or so). Prices are between 50 cents and 2€, depending on journey length and residency status, and the routes run across the entirety of Palma's city centre.
A common concern is that the island is ‘cut off’ during the winter months, and that without a car many places are inaccessible. Whilst transport runs to a more ‘limited’ schedule across certain parts of the island, everywhere is still reachable. With careful planning, and a good understanding of the timetables (TIB’s website is very comprehensive and easy to understand, in a variety of languages) you can travel Mallorca as easily (but not as frequently) in the winter, as you can in the summer.
Affordable Mallorca Tip: If you feel limited by the more limited winter schedule, you might consider going for a car rental. Many car hire companies offer special deals for long-term rentals from November to next year's season kick-off at Easter.
The Train #
Also operated by TIB, the train service is impeccable and regular. Stations are located in Manacor, Inca, Sa Pobla, Marratxi, Binissalem, Consell, Santa Maria, Lloseta, Muro and Sineu - and there are three main routes (T1, T2 and T3) that operate between these stations.
Trains more or less operate on an hourly timetable with some services offering ‘fast routes’ with limited stops) whereas others are a little more scenic and take a little longer. Overall, you can reach Palma from either of the main stations (Manacor and Inca) within an hour. Single ticket prices for discount card holders are under 2€ on all routes, and under 4€ for non-residents- certainly affordable!
Perks for Residents #
As a resident of this beautiful island, you are entitled to a variety of amazing benefits. For me, someone who relied solely on public transport for a whole year, the TIB Tarjeta Intermodal has been a godsend.
Various tarjetas (cards) are available, each one designed to benefit a certain group of people. If we break it down, you can see exactly which card is best for you.
Tarjeta Intermodal General: 31-64 years' old
This card is designed for those travellers who don’t fit into any other category, and allows them to top up their T20 or T40 saver tickets. The card is free to issue, in any of the main bus/train stations and has no expiry date; meaning card holders can benefit without having to fret about renewing it.
Tarjeta Intermodal Joven: 12-30 years' old
Allowing the passenger 50% off of all rail and bus fares, across the island, this phenomenal card allows young people the opportunity to travel across their beautiful country at affordable prices. Perfect for teens who fancy a day out, or young city slickers who have a daily commute- this card is also free to issue at any main station.
Tarjeta Intermodal Infantil: 0-12 years' old
All children under the age of 12 are entitled to completely free travel here in Mallorca- making those family days out that little bit more affordable! Available at all major stations, free of charge!
Tarjeta Intermodal Large Family
Available to all of those who can prove they’re members of a ‘large’ family (4 or more people) this free cardoffers discounted travel (50% off) as well as the ability to top up the T20 and T40 saver tickets. When applying for this card the correct paperwork must be presented at the station to prove family relations. No child under the age of 14 can apply without a parent or guardian.
Tarjeta Intermodal Pensioners: 65 years and over
This particular card is aimed at those of retirement age, although there are a few exceptions (see full terms and conditions at www.tib.org). Offering 50% off of all train and bus routes across the island, this card must be renewed every 5 years at one of the main stations. It is free to obtain, providing you have all the correct paperwork and meet the criteria for this particular card.
EMT Citizen Card
Available to residents of Palma, or one of the listed municipalities (see www.emtpalma.cat for the full list) this prepaid card allows users to hop on and off the bus without the need for cash! It can be topped up at various locations within the city and across the island (full list available on the EMT website).
Taxis (Recommended For Larger Groups) #
Taxis may not seem the most affordable option for most people, and as a solo traveller, they rarely are. However, when doubling, tripling or quadrupling the number of passengers, taxi travel can be a great option! All taxi ranks across the island list ‘approximate’ costs for journeys to various destinations. Use this as a rough guide to work out the cost per passenger. You may well have a pleasant surprise when you see that it is similar, if not better, than the bus or train!
Affordable Mallorca Tip: All licenced taxis have a blue number plate. Be sure to check this before hopping in and parting with any money. No blue plate, no licence!
Surprisingly Good Public Transport #
For the whole of last year, I relied solely on public transport. It took me a little while to figure out the system, but soon I became quite an expert in finding my way around. My personal impression is: Venturing across Mallorca is as easy as pie, whether you choose rail or road. Sure, it does take a little longer than going by car, but you might be surprised by how much you'll enjoy travelling in this eco-friendlier and climate-saving way.
Potential Discounts for De-registering Your Car #
An incentive to use public transportation, the latest Balearic Government coalition has approved a plan to provide public transportation discount cards if a resident de-registers her car. While this is not operational, this supports the latest environmental plan to move toward a lighter carbon footprint. We'll keep you posted when this becomes law.
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By Zoé Holmes
29 November, 2019