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‘We need to eliminate references to it online’: Barcelona bus route taken off maps to deter tourists

The number 116 stops at Antoni Gaudí’s Park Güell, Barcelona’s second most popular attraction after the Sagrada Familia church.
The number 116 stops at Antoni Gaudí’s Park Güell, Barcelona’s second most popular attraction after the Sagrada Familia church. Copyright D Jonez
Copyright D Jonez
By Rebecca Ann Hughes
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The number 116 stops at Antoni Gaudí’s Park Güell, Barcelona’s second most popular attraction after the Sagrada Familia church.

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For years, residents of Barcelona’s La Salut neighbourhood have had to share their bus route with crowds of tourists.

The number 116 stops at Antoni Gaudí’s Park Güell, Barcelona’s second most popular attraction after the Sagrada Familia church.

In other hotspot places around Europe, locals have tried to combat overcrowding with protests or ‘tourists go home’ stickers.

But the Spanish city’s council has employed a novel tactic to give La Salut’s residents their bus back - the number 116 route has been wiped from Google and Apple maps

Barcelona residents celebrate removal of bus route from online maps

La Salut’s residents say they are delighted with the unorthodox approach to deterring tourist crowds.

Elderly people, in particular, struggled with the incessant overcrowding on the public transport service.

The service operates with a compact 20-seater minibus which is small enough to squeeze through the narrow streets in the area but gets filled up rapidly.

“Before, the bus was so full even people with walking sticks couldn’t get on,” Luz López, 75, told Spanish news site elDiario.es.

“We laughed at the idea at first,” César Sánchez, a local activist, told UK newspaper the Guardian. “But we’re amazed that the measure has been so effective.”

Who removed the Barcelona bus route from Google Maps?

Although it has not been officially confirmed, it seems the city council of Barcelona was responsible for having the bus route removed.

Talking to the Guardian, Albert Batlle, the deputy mayor of security and coexistence on the city council, said: “We needed to eliminate references to the 116 on the internet.”

He refused to admit or deny that the council was behind the move, but a Google spokesperson said bus routes could only be deleted following a request from the council.

“The next thing we need to do is to get the whole of Park Güell removed from Google Maps,” joked Sánchez, who has spent the last eight years pushing the council to tackle the issue.

Visitors flock to Park Güell for its collection of mosaic-clad buildings, staircases and squares designed by Gaudí, the greatest exponent of Catalan Modernism.

However, hoards of tourists often roam the streets outside after being rejected entry due to not pre-booking the popular attraction.

The area is also popular for its trendy tapas bars and fish restaurants.

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