Sustainable Transportation in Madrid & Barcelona: How Will You Get to School?

In recent years, cities have seen identified as being responsible for three-quarters of the total global energy consumption and for 80% of CO2 emissions. In this case, it is very understandable why we are seeing the trend towards creating smart processes and transportation offerings to curb the influx of pollution and harm subjected on the environment. This move is done by revolutionizing the cities’ infrastructure to match the development of their energy platforms. In many cities, we have seen an increase in smart urban transportation systems and alternative ways of moving from A to B that are effective in limiting the carbon footprinnt on the planet.

Some may consider the overall idea of the smart city as being some sort of utopian dream, where they are depicted as ultra-efficient urban centers that will ideally be managed by thousands of millions of independent data through real-time analysis. While some cities may see this as being a future goal, many have already taken actionable steps towards achieving change in the way cities function daily.

Overall, these changes, among other achievements will lead to the creation of integrated public transport systems that will decrease the time used for transport in the cities. One cause for such action in Madrid and Barcelona was the alarming levels of air pollution plaguing the cities. This awareness motivated city officials to take immediate action in curbing further adverse effects.


They are not so far from the dream of providing smart, green, urban transport that is accessible to all. New, clean technologies have been implemented in some cases already, introducing smart strategies for remedying the high volume of energy consumption and focusing on IT based instruction for implementation and sustainability.

What does this mean in theory?

The transportation system will get revamped.

Electric vehicles will be a key in the way of reducing our reliance on environmental resources that are diminishing in prevalence. The use of electric cars can only be done by a joint effort between individuals and local governments working together regarding info flows and making certain resources, like charging points available.

All vehicles we be used in a more productive manner, creating means for better access and use of publics services for all.

The work being done in Madrid is based on Sistema de Transporte Inteligente de Madrid (STIM: Smart Transport System in Madrid). With 74% of the population in Madrid able to utilize public transportation to go to work every day, it is no wonder that the city is recognized for having the most modern networks.

What has Madrid done to receive this acclaim?

  1. New Buses- The fleet was updated recently and several vehicles are propelled by Compressed Natural Gas (CNG). An estimated breakdown of their bus fleet consists of 400 CNG units in addition to CNG-hybrids and diesel-electric hybrid vehicles. The network also includes the “start-stop” bus, where similar to cars today, the bus starts and stops automatically using a capacitor.
  2. Madrid has also become very active in its approach to the usability of the vehicles. Commuters can take advantage of the renovation of the internal equipment, adding wheel chair access and stroller assistance.
  3. Innovation has also become a big focus. The EMT has made significant efforts to include technology into public transport and data collecting systems through smart sensors and the Internet of Things (IoT). Incorporating additional services to create a better, more attractive transport experience.


Barcelona, already known as an international reference mark for smart city initiatives, the city government has been steadily focused for years on the technological and urban projects aimed at making city streets smarter and more sustainable. The city really takes and interest in its people, empowering residents through advancements in efficient policies and realized technologies.

What has been happening in Barcelona so far?

1. Barcelona WIFI

There are 700 free internet access points placed throughout the city that provide service for up to 250,000 users each month. These points are located in parks, plazas, squares, public buildings like the library or market, plus subway stations, buses and specific gardens are connected.

2. Smart Avenues

With the installation of powerful networks of sensors and actuators, the city can effectively collect data in order to provide unique functions that make residents’ lives easier. For example, this information has been used to calculate parking space availability, has made intelligent crosswalks possible, regulating traffic light duration based upon congestion and pedestrian foot traffic, in addition to automated light sensors based on adverse environmental conditions, not just time.

3. Bicing

It has been over 8 years since the public bicycle sharing program was started, and it has been a complete success. So much so that the city can boast that it was one of the first largest cities to implement the system. Its success equates to having 400 bicycle housing stations located across the city with over 100,000 registered users. The electric bike has also been integrated into the inventory with 46 docking stations and 300 bicycles in circulation, providing citizens with ecological transportation.

4. Apps

Spain is a leading country in terms of smart phone penetration and has a well-established tech scene in both Barcelona and Madrid continually working on creating innovative apps to better society. Barcelona does lead the way as the Mobile World Capital and annually hosts the annual Mobile World Congress.


Whether you study at the GBSB Global Campus in Barcelona or Madrid, there are exciting things taking shape in regards to public transportation and user-friendly, smart cities. It is truly amazing the strides Spain has made in this realm to become a model for other countries to follow. Live abroad in Spain and enjoy the everyday conveniences Barcelona and Madrid provide.

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