From today, anyone in the Spanish state can obtain free passes for multiple suburban and inter-city rail journeys, an economic measure approved by the Spanish government, which will be valid for the last four months of 2022, that is, from September 1st until December 31st. As well, the price of multi-journey passes for Avant trains, which cover inter-city services at higher speeds, will be discounted by 50% during the period, and on some of Spain's high-speed AVE routes new discounted passes for use over the same period are being created. Meanwhile, those who use other public transport may also be eligible for price reductions: in Catalonia, there will be 50% discounts available on multi-journey transport passes in metropolitan Barcelona.
In the case of the suburban (in Catalonia, Rodalies) and inter-city (Mitja Distancia) services, users who intend to make at least 16 trips on a given route between September 1st and December 31st will be able to take advantage of the 100% bonus. To obtain one of these personal and non-transferable passes, users must pay a deposit - 10 euros in the case of rodalies, and 20 euros for mitja distancia - when buying the pass, which is linked to a particular route in terms of origin and destination. Thus, people buying tickets for a single one-way or return journey will continue to pay the full price, a step that was imposed to prevent tourists from taking advantage of the measures.
How do you obtain the Renfe pass?
To obtain these passes, users must purchase them through the Renfe Rodalies app or through the Renfe company website, first carrying out a registration, requiring an email address, mobile phone number and age declaration. Alternatively, you can purchase the passes in person, using ticket machines or ticket offices in stations - and Renfe itself recommends the in-person options for Catalonia users. Although these passes can be purchased from this Wednesday, August 24th, they cannot be used until September 1st. If purchased online, travellers will receive a QR code, which they can use to access stations, or to obtain a physical ticket. The passenger's ID or mobile phone number will be recorded on the ticket.
How to get your deposit back
If at the end of the period of validity of the bonus the stipulated minimum number of trips have been made, the deposit will be returned through the same payment method that was used for the purchase. Since August 8th, more than 300,000 people have already registered on the Renfe website to speed up the process of obtaining the new passes, although purchasing will remain possible throughout the whole period of validity of the measure, that is, until New Year's Eve, 2022. So, if you still don't know if this measure will be useful to you, you have time to think about it.
The measure is being implemented as part of the Spanish government's plan to combat the effects of inflation and the rise in fuel prices, collateral effects of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The plan also seeks to encourage people to change their transport habits for ecological reasons. The Spanish government says it wants to "promote public transport and reduce the use of private vehicles". The measure seeks to help in "reducing our energy dependence and our carbon footprint".
Whatever the goal, at the moment, it still does not have parliamentary approval: it must be validated this Thursday in Congress and it is still not clear that a majority of Spanish deputies will vote in favour. The opposition People's Party assures that the measure includes some frivolous items and that it will vote against them until they are withdrawn.
Other travel discounts
The Renfe passes are not the only public transport tickets whose prices will fall at the end of the summer. In Barcelona, multi-trip transport cards on the TMB system (covering metro, buses, trams and FGC trains) will all be reduced to half price between September 1st and Decmeber 31st. That is, the T-Usual for one zone will fall in price from 40 euros per month to just 20 euros, while the T-Casual, which now costs 11.35 euros, will have a price of 5.68 euros. Other titles will have similar reductions: the quarterly T-Jove will cost 40 euros instead of 80 for the one zone version.
Meanwhile on August 31st, the current multi-journey passes for fast Avant train services will be on sale with a 50% discount on the final price. Travel prices on high speed AVE trains on some lines will also be subject to a 50% discount for regular users, with new multi-journey passes being created on routes where there are no public service obligations and the journey time does not exceed 100 minutes. The AVE lines that benefit from this are: Madrid-Palencia, Madrid-Zamora, León-Valladolid, Burgos-Madrid, León-Palencia, Burgos-Valladolid, Ourense-Zamora, Palencia-Valladolid, Huesca-Zaragoza, León-Segovia, Segovia-Zamora, Palència-Segovia, Medina del Camp-Zamora. No AVE routes through Catalonia fall into this category.