MADRID, Dec. 28 (Xinhua) -- The new model of transit for Madrid, which allows only low-emission vehicles or those belonging to residents to use the center of the city, will turn the Spanish capital into a "lung which will lower pollution", an official has said.
The plan, known as Madrid Central, creates a large area of "low emissions in Madrid which is aimed at favoring the pedestrian, cyclists and public transport," Beatriz Duenas, who is responsible for the Environment and Mobility at the Madrid City Hall, told Xinhua in an interview.
"The district in the center of Madrid will become a lung for the city," she noted.
Madrid Central aims to reduce the emission of nitrogen dioxide by 23 percent by 2020, and with a long-term ambition of lowering emissions by 40 percent.
"The aim of Madrid Central is not just for cleaner air, it will also mean less noise and free up public space to allow people to live in a more comfortable and healthy atmosphere," said Duenas.
"By improving public spaces, we are allowing for a more relaxed environment and also permitting more trees to be planted in streets and squares," she explained.
The plan, which only allows low-emission vehicles and those belonging to local residents into an area of 472 hectares in the heart of Madrid, came into effect on Nov. 30.
Although Madrid Central is still in its early stages and fines won't be issued to those who break the rules until March 1, it already seems to be having a positive effect, with an average 25,000 more trips a day being made on public transport.
"The number of pedestrians has also risen. An average of around 100,000 people are now walking down the central Gran Via every working day, around 40 percent more than in 2017," Duenas said, adding that the number of cars using the city's main artery had fallen by over 30 percent.
Meanwhile, the City Hall insists the traffic restrictions will not have a negative effect on business, with Duenas explaining deliveries to companies in the central zone are guaranteed.