CITRAM – revolutionising concept of public transport management

Posted: 2 April 2016 | | No comments yet

CITRAM is the integrated public transport management centre of the Madrid region public transport authority – Consorcio Regional de Transportes de Madrid (CRTM) which became fully operational in August 2013, following a long period of technological integration that lasted six years. Since then, CITRAM has become a model for other metropolitan regions around the world, as demonstrated by the increasing number of international delegations – more than 100 since its inauguration – that have visited CRTM and CITRAM in order to learn about its mission and characteristics. Tomás Melero, Director of CITRAM, divulges the features and functions of CITRAM that help explain its success and global appeal.


The objective of CITRAM is not the common function of a control centre; its aim is to provide integrated services of information, connectivity and cooperation to all the stakeholders related to public transport. While the decisions and approach of the different control centres are based on the operation and management of its own network (Metro, urban and suburban buses, ligh- rail, etc.), CITRAM goes one step further with strategic decisions that involve all the integrated public transport operators in Madrid’s regional public transport system.

CITRAM represents CRTM’s new way of thinking, modifying the public transport authority concept from one of observer to active participant. CRTM leads the cooperation and collaboration among more than 40 public and private operators in order to give optimum mobility services to all citizens.

The public transport system of the metropolitan region of Madrid

The public transport system for the Madrid region is a complex intermodal system, consisting of various modes of transport. Two major sub-systems can be distinguished:

  • The urban area of the city of Madrid: consists of around 200 urban bus routes (EMT), 12 underground lines (Metro), one light-rail and 37 suburban train stations
  • The metropolitan area of the region: consists of over 100 urban bus routes, more than 300 suburban lines, five Metro lines, three light-rail lines and nine suburban railway lines.

Both sub-systems are connected by a series of large interchanges that surround the central area of the city of Madrid, channelling radial mobility between the capital and its metropolitan rings.

In this complex mobility context the traditional concept of management changes from a unified management of public transport within a city to a territorial approach. This is possible thanks to the creation of a regional public transport authority; the Consorcio Regional de Transportes de Madrid whose main aim is the provision of public transport services of optimum quality to the inhabitants of the entire Madrid region and associated municipalities, managing all the operating companies and the different arrangements that exist between them.

Two thirds of public transport clients are multimodal users who need dynamic, timely information at system level for the optimisation of their trips. This is a commitment to the future with present results to which CRTM responds through CITRAM.

CITRAM: basic infrastructure in the strategy for smart mobility

CITRAM revolutionises the traditional concept of public transport management, changing from network management to an effective management of the public transport system in real-time as a whole. This implies not only a technological progress, but also a cultural one where all the agents involved (public transport operators, public transport authority, users, emergency services, etc.) can access a body of information based on collaboration and coordination in order to get the optimum answers.

The keys to success are the technological integration, the collaborative concept of the system, the management of information to support decision-making and the client oriented use of ICTs.

The technological platform enables a unified view of more than 20,000 cameras throughout the whole network (metro, interchanges, traffic cameras and on-board cameras). Additionally, the centre has a graphic information management system that identifies all events introduced by public transport operators and manages them according to on-line information regarding the positioning and operation of more than 4,000 buses and 1,000 trains. The collaborative application that provides access to more than 6,000 panels of information about the whole system allows relevant information to be sent to public transport clients to all the panels without taking into account which operator is the owner of the panel.

24 hours a day, 354 days a year this huge amount of information is processed and analysed by highly qualified staff, trained to manage any event or circumstance that could arise in the public transport system of the Madrid region.

The information, solutions and alternatives adopted are available in real-time for the more than 40 operators who make up the public transport system of the region, increasing coordination among them and considerably reducing the response time under any circumstance that alters the proper work of the public transport system.

CITRAM is also connected and receives information from the Directorate General of Traffic (DGT) control centre, ‘112’ Emergency Services and Madrid City Council.

Related to client oriented use of ICTs, CITRAM has developed a new client approach with homogeneous, accurate and relevant information about all the public transport modes in the hands of clients; more than five million a day. This information is received by panels of information of the whole system, CRTM web page or the mobile application where each client can search routes and itineraries, providing information about the next train or bus that is arriving at that stop, as well as information about any disruptions on their route in order to save time and make the journey more comfortable.

CITRAM’s future challenges

The achievements of CITRAM over the last few years provide the basis for our ambitious objectives of developing new services with added value for all the citizens in the coming years.

The unified dataset that CITRAM has created is a unique milestone in a region with six million inhabitants with a mature and complex transport system.

On one hand, transforming this large amount of data into an open data system provides added value and helps with the promotion of public transport. This could be used by entrepreneurs and developers with new business models to improve sustainable mobility. In this respect CITRAM will have a strategic position in the share management of public transport and private vehicles: a new challenge within the mobility context. Thanks to its capacity for integration and analysis of different sources of information, not only that of public transport but also traffic, car-sharing, park and ride facilities, cycling, etc. CITRAM will provide options for citizens taking into account all relevant information and be a conduit for answers to an increasing demand for unified mobility information.

On the other hand, the improvement in the capacity of analysis of information through big data will give CITRAM the opportunity to offer provisions and alternatives based on real-time conditions.

The specialisation of services for clients such as information particularised to tourists or multimodal information adapted to disabled people, is another important challenge for CITRAM in the coming years.

In short, one of the main priorities for CITRAM is providing high quality services to all citizens thanks to the integration of real-time information about the infrastructure and services of all the modes of transport that operate within the Madrid region. All of this is based on technological innovation in order to improve mobility management and support decision-making. This is a future commitment that will increase the conception of mobility as a service for all citizens.


Tomás Melero has Master’s Degrees in Civil Engineering and in Infrastructures and Service Management. He is currently the Director of CITRAM but previous experience at CRTM has included being Head of the LRT Department and Project Manager for Plaza de Castilla and Avenida de America interchanges. Previous experience elsewhere has included being a Consultant in logistics, transport planning and transport infrastructure design. Tomás has been a member of the UITP LRT Committee since 2008 and is an expert in PPP for cities in the Urban Transport Group. Tomás is author of several books and papers and has been speaker for lots of conferences and partner on several European projects.