As fuel prices rise, there is less and less reason not to use public transport. Also, to make buses an attractive way to travel in the Algarve, a new bus network, which started working from 1 December, brings several changes such as “better information available in different languages, more ways to get tickets and a better network between different destinations”, said António Pina, AMAL president, in an interview with The Portugal News.
What is VAMUS?
VAMUS is the new bus network in the Algarve that replaces the previous operators EVA and Frota Azul (which were previously the public transport entities working in the region).
Currently, the public transport system is run by VIZUR –from EVA Transportes as they won the international public tender, which concession is managed by AMAL (Comunidade Intermunicipal do Algarve), a public entity that is working as a transport regulator.
From 1 December, buses are now getting to many more villages than before. Additionally, new routes are available, such as: Quarteira - MAR Shopping (route nº 2); Aljezur - Vila do Bispo (22); Alvor to Armação de Pêra (52); AeroBus (56); Albufeira - Vila Real de Santo António (66); Olhão - Loulé (68); Aljezur - Arrifana (74) and finnaly Loulé - Faro Airport (University - Gambelas) (118).
The monthly pass can be purchased at the ticket offices or through the website and app, allowing unlimited travel on the same route, during the month in which the payment was made.
In addition to the unlimited number of trips, anyone who buys a monthly pass benefits from an extra 50 percent discount. "This is a discount made directly to the user and results from the PART - Fee Reduction Support Program that has been in force since 2019", he said.
However, if you are not sure if you need one, there are more options on the table, for example, the new prepaid ticket that works as a “pay as you go” option.
Travelling from the airport
One of the best new additions to the service is the aerobus. In fact, VAMUS brings more routes, including the aerobus, which will allow a direct and fast connection between the most popular tourist destinations and Faro airport, at an affordable price. At the moment, there are direct connections from the airport to Albufeira, Lagoa, Portimão and Lagos.
“As the Algarve is a highly touristic region, and if we want to compare the Algarve with other destinations in Europe, it is necessary to establish direct connections from Faro airport to some of the main tourist destinations in the Algarve – a fast service, with its own fee, which reduces the time from the airport to the destination point", he said.
Although it is very easy planning your trips through the VAMUS’ website and the app, in addition, “users can also plan their trips using Google Maps, which will show the different public transport systems in the region, including the train”, said António Pina.
On demand transport
In sparsely populated areas, where there are no buses, VAMUS has created a very innovative service in the Algarve, called the On-Demand Transport (transporte a pedido in Portuguese), which allows its populations to travel to the centre of the county to ensure basic needs such as going see the doctor or the going to supermarket.
However, the president warns that this is not a taxi service. To use this service, you must pre-book it by 1pm of the previous day, through the number 300 074 830. If you wish to consult the specific times for each of the routes, you can consult them at https://vamusalgarve.pt/#/transport-request .
Easy and accessible to all
One of the new advantages of the new transport system is the ease with which information is passed on. At bus stops there will be a QRCode “that will allow the user, through a smartphone, to know how far the buses are from the location. This information is also available live on the website, in the app and on Google Maps”. In addition, “at the bus stops there will be a network map that will have not only information about the services, but also tourist information, which will be available in Portuguese and English”.
However, even with public transport getting much better than before and with an environmental awareness that has never been that greater, the fact is that in the Algarve people still don't use public transport as much as they could.
Altogether, “VAMUS is a network that travels about six million kilometres a year and has an occupancy rate around 20 percent. We want to meet all needs, but for that we need to have passengers”.
For further information, visit their App or website at https://vamusalgarve.pt/#/pt/vamus%20algarve/routes
Paula Martins is a fully qualified journalist, who finds writing a means of self-expression. She studied Journalism and Communication at University of Coimbra and recently Law in the Algarve. Press card: 8252