MADRID: THERE’S SUCH A THING AS FREE RIDE, HONEST!

MadridMoney Mattersslider

Bus 001 of the Linea Cero as it passes in front of Plaza España in the Moncloa-Aravaca district.

 

by Rose Maramba

 

LINE 001  ATOCHA RENFE-MONCLOA

001 at Plaza Emperador Carlos V. 001 takes the passenger to some of the loveliest plazas and promenades in the nation’s capital.

Since 18 February 2020, Madrid folk can go up and down Gran Via on Bus 001 of the LINEA CERO (Zero Line) free! To be more precise, they rode before the lockdown (Estado de Alarma) and, since the lockdown ended last 21 June 2020, are again riding, from ATOCHA RENFE to MONCLOA, and back again. At NO COST.

If you’re wondering why the bus is called 001, it’s because it’s the very first of the buses on Linea Cero. The double zero refers to the zero emission of the electric buses and the zero cost to the passengers.

Why the ATOCHA RENFE- MONCLOA route? Because the Atocha Interchange (Intercambiador de Atocha) is the gateway to Madrid for road and rail passengers coming in from the outlying towns and provinces.

Whereas Moncloa is a travel landmark where the busy Moncloa Interchange (Intercambiador de Moncloa) is located.

Both Atocha and Moncloa are Madrid’s largest transport hubs.

The 001 east-west route brings the passenger to the Golden Triangle of Art.

001’s east-west route is a regular bus line that cuts across the Central District (Distrito Central). Pulling away from Atocha Renfe, it passes through the loveliest paseos in the nation’s capital, bringing the passenger virtually to the doorsteps of the Golden Triangle of Art: the Prado, Thyssen-Bornemisza, and Reina Sofía Museums.

From museums to theaters, tapas and Zara and Mango. Yes, you heard it right. Leaving behind the three premier museums, 001 goes on down to the iconic Gran Via, Madrid’s unbeatable avenue of shops, restaurants and theaters. Gran Via isn’t known as the Broadway of Madrid for nothing!

But before reaching the shopping and entertainment Mecca, 001 will have passed the resplendent City Hall cum CentroCentro Cultural Center, a stunning Neoplateresque edifice with Baroque evocations on Plaza de Cibeles.

Also on that plaza is the venerable Central Bank of Spain (Banco de España). It is one of the most beautiful nineteenth-century buildings in Spain.

Bus 001 ready to leave Atocha Renfe for Moncloa

At the end of the line, 001 unloads its passenger on the northwestern gateway to the sierra madrileña (Madrid’s mountainous countryside).  If the passenger so wishes, she/he could take any of the busses in the Moncloa Interchange and head for the Guadarrama Mountains.

The 001 route ends on Calle Arcipreste de Hita at Plaza de la Moncloa, in front of one of the several entrances to the Moncloa Interchange.

On reaching Moncloa, 001 will have made 19 stops; will make 17 stops on the way back to Atocha Renfe.

 

LINEA 002 PUERTA DE TOLEDO-ARGÜELLES

There is a second LINEA CERO, the 002, which connects the historic Puerta de Toledo in southern Madrid to Barrio Argüelles in the north.

From Puerta de Toledo, the Bus 002 route ends in front of the El Corte Inglés department store on Calle Alberto Aguilera in the Argüelles barrio.

A bit of history.  The Puerta de Toledo was a gate in The Walls of Felipe IV which surrounded the old city of Madrid between 1625 and 1868. Felipe IV started off the construction to replace the Walls of Philip II (King of Spain,1556–98) and the Walls del Arrabal, or Arab Walls, whose ruins are the oldest extant construction in the city.

The Walls of Felipe IV were built primarily for fiscal and surveillance purposes, to control incoming goods and therefore ensure tax collection, as well as to monitor the comings and goings of the populace.

For this reason, it could be said quite accurately that 002 departs from the heart of Spain’s Ancien Régime to end up in Argüelles, Madrid’s late-comer, the barrio coming into existence only after the urban expansion in the mid-19th century.

The wall enclosing Madrid as seen through Puerta de Toledo in 1865.

The Puerta de Toledo belongs to the so-called Madrid de los Austrias, the old center of Madrid, built during the time of the Habsburg Dynasty, aka the House of Austria. “Austrias” for short, it is an allusion to the dynasty that was implanted in Spain by Charles V, Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. As Charles I, Charles V was King of Spain (Castile and Aragon) between 1516 – 1556. However, there was a Habsburg, Philip I, who reigned as King of Castille from 12 July – 25 September 1506. He was the father of Charles V.

Funnily, though, the Puerta de Toledo has morphed into just a landmark that demarcates the hugely popular  El Rastro (the Flea Market). Quite a come-down!

From Puerta de Toledo, Bus 002 traverses the narrower streets of the Centro district and those of Malasaña, home to the countercultural movement (the Movida Madrieña) that took place during the Spain’s transition to democracy after the death of dictator Franco in 1975.

The midget Bus 002, “the slowest bus of Madrid,” on its way to Argüelles.

002 is humorously dubbed the slowest bus of Madrid, having to negotiate all those narrow streets on its tortuous route.

It’s a free ride, though, so who’s complaining? The bus stops at 22 points on the way to Argüelles, and 23 on the return trip.

 

Inauspicious beginning. Talk about bad timing! 002 was launched on 3 March 2020, on the eve of the eve of Spanish lockdown when the Madrileños were too terrified to leave their homes, let alone take a ride on a bus. But never mind. The folks have now got back their freedom of mobility. Warily at first, they’re starting to board 002, the phantom-like bus they hardly knew existed until just a fortnight ago.

001 enjoyed a better debut. The Madrileños had nearly a month to get acquainted with the bus before the lockdown. Boarding it these days doesn’t therefore feel as strange as boarding the 002.

———

Images
Featured image/Snooze 123, CCO
Bus 001 at Atocha Renfe and at Plaza Emperador Carlos V /Snooze 123, CCO
Infanta Margarita de Austria (1660) by Juan Bauitista Martinez del Mazo, distributed as part of The Yorck Project, by DIRECTMEDIA, PD
Les Vessenots by Vincent van gogh, PD
Violin and Guitar by Juan Gris/anagoria, PD
El Corte Inglés/Triplecaña, CC BY-SA4.0
The wall that surrounded Madrid, as seen through Puerta de Toledo in 1865/ Jean Laurent, PD
Bus 002/Snooze 123, CCO