Not even the extra patrols sent out to help the 140 traffic officers deployed across Madrid were able to prevent further chaos on the capital’s roads on Monday.
This is the second time this month that traffic has ground to a virtual halt in several parts of the city.
On October 5, municipal police were not sent out to help direct traffic when wet weather resulted in huge tailbacks, attracting criticism from opposition parties, which accused Mayor Manuela Carmena’s leftist Ahora Madrid government of doing nothing to solve the city’s traffic problems.
There were tailbacks stretching for 17 kilometers on the M-40 beltway
This time, municipal officers directed traffic at 40 spots across Madrid. But even this additional effort could not prevent traffic jams from forming for several hours. The rain, which caused several minor accidents as braking cars skidded and collided into adjacent vehicles, compounded the trouble.
The worst of the snarl-ups were in the north of the capital, where rush-hour traffic caused lengthy delays lasting until mid-morning. Traffic slowed down to a crawl on the M-30 beltway, and the Ventas exit was cut off to vehicles. Meanwhile, there were tailbacks stretching for 17 kilometers on the M-40 beltway.
“It took us an hour-and-a-half to get to school this morning,” complained one mother, who usually covers the distance in 25 minutes.
Many drivers chose to while away the time by sharing their experiences on social media.
“They’ve opened up another Primark on the M-30 and I didn’t even know!” joked one motorist on Twitter in reference to the low-cost fashion retailer’s huge new Madrid outpost, which has been attracting hordes of shoppers since opening last week.
“An Opel Astra in a traffic jam? Impossible. It's German technology,” wrote another beneath a picture of model Claudia Schiffer.
The incident soon took on political overtones, with Carmena’s detractors blaming the city for the traffic situation and supporters urging critics to “take your medication, because the [traffic jams] were the same before, ever since [former mayor Alberto Ruiz] Gallardón planned the M-30 poorly.”
Meanwhile, Madrid regional premier Cristina Cifuentes of the Popular Party (PP) said that she hoped city officials would “address the task” of regulating traffic because it was “one of their obligations,” notwithstanding the fact that Madrid was “a very complicated” city in terms of vehicle circulation.
English version by Susana Urra.