Bells and a greeting at each crossing of the Trambaix

The trams are the same as they were twenty years ago and drivers like José Luis Torres, too.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
03 April 2024 Wednesday 10:30
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Bells and a greeting at each crossing of the Trambaix

The trams are the same as they were twenty years ago and drivers like José Luis Torres, too. What's out there, on the other hand, has been more transformed. Where there used to be open fields and industrial warehouses, blocks of flats now rise. And the cars that initially entered the tram route by mistake have been replaced by scooters that are much more vulnerable and are the main generators of scares among drivers.

It is then that the unique bell sounds like a horn that warns of the passing of the tram. Despite passing through a clearly delimited space, tram drivers encounter some unforeseen circumstance every day. When it is not a scooter or a car that gets too close to the tracks, it is a pedestrian who crosses thinking that he is still far away or a young man with his headphones on and staring at his mobile phone without being aware that a giant is approaching. a few tons and more than thirty meters long.

Even a black cat calmly walks along the tracks and runs away when he hears the sound of the bell during the trip from end to end of the Trambaix T2 line that this driver makes accompanied by La Vanguardia. “You always have to be very alert and try to anticipate all the elements you have in your environment,” explains Torres in the Sant Joan Despí garage once his work has been completed.

Before arriving here, at the end of the commercial route at the Levante-Les Planes station, he helped a confused woman to get off the tram and take the convoy in the correct direction. It's part of the job, although drivers usually have little interaction with passengers. That is more a matter of the auditors, a figure that is difficult to find on the subway or train but is very common on the tram.

Torres is especially satisfied when travelers are grateful, “those who when you wait for them say thank you.” The story of a Trambesòs driver who ended up marrying a passenger whom he transported every day is legendary among the staff of the house.

From the transparent cabin in which the drivers sit, every time they pass another tram they greet each other by slightly raising their hands, sometimes with more joy, other times with some reluctance. “After twenty years, some have opened the debate in the canteen about whether we have to stop doing it, but if you meet a colleague and they don't greet you, you are left worried about whether they are having a bad day or something happens to them... ”, Torres acknowledges.

As a company veteran, José Luis prefers the morning shift. He gets up very early, but that's when travelers cause fewer problems and everything goes more smoothly. “First thing in the morning everyone is in a hurry, people go to work or study or somewhere specific and get on and off quickly; In the afternoon, however, everyone is more relaxed,” says this driver who found the job after seeing an advertisement published in this newspaper on an autumn Sunday in 2003.

It was then that he sent his resume to a post office box and a few weeks later he underwent interviews and tests in a huge room where there were 300 applicants for the 60 initial positions. When he was selected, he changed the truck and the bull with which he worked and took charge of a tram, a task that he has carried out since then and of which he has not tired.

It is not a unique case, the workforce is very stable and still young, with few retirements. As many of them joined the company in their twenties and thirties, they are now in their fifties after spending two decades working on trams manufactured by Alstom that are in very good condition and maintain the appearance of modernity with which they were presented then.

The validating machines do not do so well, which are one of the main sources of problems for drivers, eager for T-Mobilitat to be definitively implemented and the cardboard tickets stuck in machines with expired dates to disappear.