City snapshot: Mobility-as-a-Service in Madrid

Posted: 18 November 2019 | | No comments yet

The Madrid public transport operator, EMT, is developing the MaaS platform ‘MaaS Madrid’ which will offer mobility services to citizens in one unified application. Here, Enrique Diego Bernardo, Chief Technology Officer of EMT, explains how, for the first time, a city, administrative or public entity is leading such an initiative.

City snapshot: Mobility-as-a-Service in Madrid

The urban mobility landscape is rapdily transforming and evolving. To the well-known digital transformation or digital revolution, another revolution has surfaced: the new mobility services. In fact, digital transformation is causing a new range of mobility services to appear in cities (car sharing, scooters, bikesharing, etc.), and they are growing rapidly. For example, Madrid City has nearly 16,000 vehicles, all of which are electric and for sharing. In this sense, smart cities must be prepared and take advantage of this opportunity, and Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) initiatives represent a whole paradigm shift.

Smart cities must be prepared and take advantage of this opportunity, and Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) initiatives represent a whole paradigm shift

According to UITP (International Association of Public Transport), MaaS is the integration of, and access to, different transport services in one single digital mobility offer, with active mobility and an efficient public transport system as its basis.

Madrid City and EMT (Madrid Public Transport Operator) are developing a MaaS platform – MaaS Madrid – built from public-private collaboration, offering mobility services to citizens in a unified and integrated way. This approach is key to ensure transparency in the route planner, to grant data protection for users and data analysis for transport systems improvements and it will guarantee multi-modal options in combination with public transport, and tackle challenges linked to congestion, air quality, accessibility, safety and equity.

In this context, Intelligent Transport Systems acquire special relevance, since they allow both the deployment and integration of the different transport modes and, in addition, provide the best information and services to the user.

Public transport will always be the axis on which the rest of mobility initiatives will pivot. In this sense, the large urban bus or subway networks of cities, obviously due to their capacity, will continue to absorb the greatest number of journeys (and also should), and in this regard, it is necessary to maintain an inclusive vision of all modes, including new mobility services. This is essential for city and public transport mobility managers, which are also obliged to change and evolve.

We must find a user or citizen who has a wide range of possibilities of mobility – a “multimodal user”. In this regard, without deviating from the first two factors that are always taken into account when deciding a trip – travel time and cost – a third factor will come into play that is becoming more and more relevant: the user experience.

This is the first time that a city, administrative or public entity leads this type of initiative, which necessarily implies collaboration with the city’s multiple private mobility operators

MaaS Madrid allows a single application to offer all the mobility services in the city and makes it available to users. This is the first time that a city, administrative or public entity leads this type of initiative, which necessarily implies collaboration with the city’s multiple private mobility operators.

The first version is now available on both Android and iOS platforms and you can see many operators, both public and private, added in a single application. In the following phases, currently in execution, it will allow:

  • User registration
  • Multimodal Route Planning
  • Real Time Guiding
  • Third-party API’s integration (operators and external services)      
  • Integrated payment of the service.

One of the most complicated parts of this initiative is the possibility of accessing to the different modes and payment services in a secure, integrated and combined way. In addition, the financial compensation procedures between the user and the operators must be subsequently managed.

For this purpose, EMT Madrid has developed EMTPay, a comprehensive Mobility Services Payment Platform.

EMTPay is designed for all EMT services, being a platform capable of managing transactions made in any mode of transport or mobility in its different modalities: physical card, mobile phone (Apple Pay and Google Pay), or through e-commerce within apps or website.

In this sense, the platform integrates, for example, all the transactions that are carried out at the contactless validators of the buses, at points of sale (POS) of parkings, bike-sharing (BiciMAD), at EMT Cable Car, and Electro-EMT app (charging network for electric vehicles), as well as any other third-party payment channel that is integrated in MaaS Madrid .

The innovative EMTPay platform includes the following modules and services:

  • The reader embarked on the more than 2,000 buses that make up the EMT fleet. This reader is able to read the Public Transport Contactless Card issued by the Transport Authority (Mifare Desfire) and also the worldwide bank card standard (EMV). This is the first reader implemented in Spain that combines both technologies in the same element or reader. In addition, it contains a transport-specific communications protocol that combines bank payment data and transport data in the same transaction. This protocol allows the operator to be independent of the acquiring services or banks, being able to connect to any other entity without changing its on-board or central systems
  • A central system or “BackOffice”, also owned by the operator, which allows to dynamically calculate the combined rates to be applied to users based on the mobility services they use (MaaS)     
  • A web portal for consultation and management for end users. From here, users can check their transactions and resolve possible incidents
  • A web portal for consultation and management for the Operator Customer Service Office (OAC) with the objective of responding to inquiries and user incidents
  • A web portal for the Financial Department of EMT to manage all the economic flows of the platform.

The operation of the system on buses is based on the ODA (Offline Data Authentication) bank cards standard, which allows for an “off-line” identification in the bus reader or validator. The transaction is just as fast as a contactless transport card (400 ms.), since it does not need a connection to the outside, carrying out the entire process locally at the reader or validator.

In addition, the fare for each use or trip may not be previously known at the access point, but will depend on the activity of the passenger and use made of the different mobility services (MaaS), and is calculated later in the Backoffice of EMT.

In any case, the access data is sent to the Payment Gateway and the Backoffice simultaneously, and the latter calculates the rate at the end of the period of use of the services. This parameterisation (variable rates, calculation periods, etc.) is carried out in the Backoffice. In this regard, all transactions of each user remain stored in the Payment Gateway until the Backoffie calculates the rate to be applied, and at that time, the transaction progresses to the acquiring bank as a single payment combined with the total calculated rate for the Backoffice.

Finally, it is very important to say that institutional coordination and multimodal urban planning will be key for success of MaaS initiatives. The setup of mobility agencies or multimodal transport authorities in charge of all urban mobility services would facilitate MaaS.