What Madrid Does Well in Urban Mobility
Madrid is a leader among its European peers in autonomous vehicle investments and has implemented several automated transit lines as part of its metro system. In March 2023, Madrid’s transit operator opened an automated warehouse for train maintenance and has an automated traffic and station control center.
The city continues to support clean air initiatives as it pushes residents to transition to electric vehicles (EVs) through investment in charging stations, a growing low-emission zone, and other restrictions on combustion engine vehicles. In March 2023, Madrid announced an extension of its EV subsidy program and also reported that nearly half of sustainable vehicles registered in Spain did so in the Madrid region.
Urban Mobility Readiness Index, Sustainable Mobility and Public Transit scores
Challenges and Opportunities for Madrid’s Transportation System
Madrid lacks a diverse set of mobility modes with challenges stemming from dispersed public transit stations and a lackluster cycling infrastructure. Efforts are underway to expand its station density: the city announced in 2022 plans to build 40 kilometers (25 miles) of metro lines along with a new station by 2029.
Madrid lacks an extensive presence of top universities and labs working on mobility and is home to few mobility companies, contributing to a more muted mobility innovation ecosystem. However, Jaguar Land Rover announced in February 2023 plans to develop an autonomous vehicle engineering hub in Madrid.
Dimensions of the Urban Mobility Readiness Index score
How Madrid Can Improve Its Public Transportation and Sustainable Mobility
With many of Madrid's residents opting to use private cars, residents own on average about twice as many vehicles as residents in its peer city Helsinki. Madrid can discourage car usage by introducing carfree zones to heavy foot-traffic areas and by limiting car parking. Madrid would need to offer alternative mobility options by promoting public transit, active mobility, and shared mobility such as car-sharing or ride-hailing. The city can improve its active mobility infrastructure by building bike lanes, supporting bike sharing initiatives, and increasing accessibility and safety for pedestrians and cyclists. Madrid’s 2022 implementation of pedestrian-only zones shows solid progress, but further efforts will help.
Despite a strong national EV incentivization and subsidy program, Madrid still lags in EV market share, as its peer city Munich boasts an EV market share that is three and a half times higher than Madrid’s. Madrid could add city-wide incentives such as tax breaks, registration fee exemptions, toll exemptions, and special access lanes to support and encourage EV purchases and charging station availability. A plan to expand the city’s Low Emission Zone to cover all public roads in Madrid by January 1, 2024, will be a significant step forward in incentivizing EVs. Charging station availability is another major factor in EV purchase decisions. To offer a charging network on par with Munich, Madrid would need to accelerate the deployment of charging stations to increase its station density by a factor of 5.6.