Transport in Madeira
The Madeira islands and Funchal has an extensive public transportation system. Transport between the two main islands is done by plane or by ferries, the latter also allowing for the transportation of vehicles. Visiting the interior of the islands is now very easy, due to major road developments, known as the Vias rápidas, on the islands during Portugal's economic boom.
The islands have two airports, one in Santa Cruz (known as Funchal Airport (FNC)) on the Island of Madeira and the other in the city of Vila Baleira on Porto Santo Island. Flights to the islands are mostly made from Lisbon and Porto, but there are also direct flights from other major European cities and other countries, like Brazil, Venezuela and South Africa.
In the late 20th century Funchal airport (which became operative in July 1964) was dreaded among airliner pilots for its runway, which was not only short (the largest planes that could be accommodated were the Airbus A320 and Boeing 737) but was also built on a high embankment which fell away abruptly towards the sea. It often experienced updrafts which tended to lift landing aircraft in an unpredictable fashion. In an accident on November 19, 1977 that killed over 150 people, TAP Portugal Flight 425, landing in unfavorable weather, overshot the runway and dropped off the cliff. Subsequently the runway was realigned and extended from 1,800m to 2,481m, enabling most modern passenger airplanes (including the Boeing 747-400) to visit the island.
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Bus companies, including Horários do Funchal which has been operating for over one hundred years, have regularly scheduled routes to all points of interest on the island.
The Direcção Regional dos Transportes Terrestres is the department of the regional government responsible for land transportation in the autonomous region.
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