Madrid eyes eco-transport for "mobility revolution"

Source: Xinhua| 2018-12-28 18:16:41|Editor: zh
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MADRID, Dec. 28 (Xinhua) -- Madrid, the capital city of Spain, is mulling the use of new ecological means of transport, which have emerged in the city in recent years, to wage a "mobility revolution," along with the decision of its City Council to restrict traffic downtown.

"We are moving towards to seeing mobility as a service. This is undoubted, we are moving towards a society where we no longer have a car as a property when it is an unused asset most of the time," said Jose Luis Zimmermann, the general director of the Spanish Association of Digital Economy (AEED).

"We have alternatives to solve this," said Zimmermann, referring to the emergence of car-sharing services since 2015, or similar services involving motorcycles or electric scooters.

"There are many business models that have emerged around this, with a clear goal: to stop using the private car as an asset in property and use it as a service," Zimmermann said.

However, one of the particularities of this "mobility revolution" happening in Madrid is its firm commitment to sustainability, with the vehicles offered being electric.

"These models propose more livable cities," Zimmermann said.

This business model fits perfectly with Madrid's decision to restrict the movement of cars in the city center, except for downtown residents, their guests, low-polluting vehicles or those who go to schools, among others.

This measure, called Madrid Central, began on Nov. 30 and it does not allow vehicles to enter the city center, which includes emblematic areas such as Gran Via, Puerta del Sol, Palacio Real, Plaza de Espana or the Bohemian neighborhoods of Lavapies and Malasana.

The Madrid City Council estimates that traffic will be reduced by 37 percent with the measure.

However, electric vehicles are allowed in downtown Madrid because they are eco-friendly, and the number of them is expected to increase in the coming months.

"Some Spanish cities such as Barcelona, Madrid and Valencia have already made decisions to restrict the private use of the car. Madrid Central is an example of all this; the City Council has raised awareness and everyone is aware that there is a problem with traffic," Zimmermann said.

European car-sharing platform Car2Go, now owned by German car maker Daimler AG, opened car-sharing services in Madrid in 2015, and is being used by Madrid residents.

Car2Go operates in more than two dozen cities and has a fleet of 400 cars, all electric-only, in Madrid. It has announced recently that it would double the fleet to 850.

The arrival of these new traffic means and the traffic restriction in the city center have been well received by Madrid residents.

"Madrid is a city where there is a lot of pollution because many people use their cars when they go to work, public transport is good, but they still prefer the car; if you have to move around the center, bicycles are a good alternative," Claudia Martinez, an 18-year-old student, told Xinhua.

Juan Rodriguez, a 33-year-old lawyer, said that everything that would help the environment and reduce pollution is positive.

However, others have said that the City Council must teach citizens how to use the new transport systems.

Gema Gomez, a bus driver with the Municipal Transport Company (EMT), which is responsible for public transport, said that "it is good" that people do not use cars thanks to the initiative of Madrid Central, but she said it would be a good idea to regulate the alternative transport systems.

"They should also regulate the use of scooters, especially because they do not know whether to use the pavement or the road," she said.

Two weeks ago, the City Council ordered the removal of hundreds of electric scooters parked in the middle of public roads because they prevented the normal use of the roads.

On Nov. 29, one driver of an electric scooter accidentally killed a pedestrian after running the victim over, causing a lot of controversy about the correct use of electric scooters in Spain.