Mobility Portal, Spain
Date: May 27, 2024
Inés Platini
By Inés Platini
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The rivalry extends to electric buses: Is there no truce between Barcelona and Madrid?

"One is more conservative than the other," states Yago García Rodríguez, Managing Partner at ASET, to Mobility Portal España, while analysing the transition to electric mobility being undertaken by the two major public transport companies in the country.
The rivalry extends to electric buses: Is there no truce between Barcelona and Madrid?
Yago García Rodríguez, Managing Partner at ASET.

Who is it referring to?

For years Madrid and Barcelona have been competing in almost all areas and it was not going to be different in the transition towards electric mobility.

Now, the Municipal Transport Company (EMT) of the capital is facing the Transports Metropolitans de Barcelona (TMB) in the decarbonization of its bus fleets.

TMB is a pioneer in testing different brands, models and technologies, while EMT is more conservative in that sense,” says Yago García Rodríguez, Managing Partner at ASET, to Mobility Portal España.

According to the latest published figures, Madrid has 2,102 vehicles, of which 87.39 per cent are powered by natural gas, while 12.61 per cent are electric.

At the same time, the Catalan city has 134 electric buses and eight hydrogen ones, out of a total of 1,140.

Not only this, but it is also venturing into autonomous cars, although still in the pilot phase, since regulations still need to be finalized.

According to the information that Mobility Portal España was able to obtain, the first tests that TMB will carry out will be at the garage level, which will allow the vehicle to park automatically, identify its location and move on its own.

At the same time, it is strongly committed to the hydrogen fuel cell, which represents a fundamental element in its decarbonization strategy.

What is its roadmap?

The entity plans that by the end of 2024, 27 per cent of its fleet will be made up of electric and hydrogen-powered cars, with 23 per cent and 4 per cent respectively.

This means reaching 232 electric and 44 H2O.

This will surpass the 26 per cent of non-hybrid compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles, positioning sustainable ones as the preferred options within its fleet.

This progressive advance will continue until 2030, where, according to the company’s projections, zero-emission vehicles will represent the majority, 58 per cent of the total, while 14 per cent will be powered by hydrogen.

TMB is almost a pioneer in testing all technologies and all bus brands,” says García Rodríguez.

Instead, “EMT waits until the technologies are a little more established before conducting tests.”

This does not rule out the fact that Madrid is making a significant effort to reduce its emissions to zero.

In what way?

First, having completely eliminated the use of diesel in its fleet.

Currently, the municipal company has about 306 eBuses, to which it plans to soon add ten powered by green hydrogen and increase its number of zero-emission cars to 500 in the next two years.

Its goal is to have 25 per cent electric buses by 2025 and achieve a complete transition in 2033.

To achieve this, it has an investment plan of 1,000 million euros destined not only to the acquisition of automobiles, but also to the modernization and updating of its operations centers.

In this way, this rivalry between both entities is not only observed in the renewal of their fleet, but also in the adaptation of their depots.

EMT Madrid operations center.

In this area, EMT Madrid has a success story in its Carabanchel warehouses, which is going through the third phase in the electrification process.

Developed on an area of ​​approximately 221×25 meters, the infrastructure is divided into three height levels that can supply 118 eBuses.

The operations center now has a total of 260 electric charging points.

However, it is expected that when the third phase ends, it will have a total of 320 chargers: 230 by the inverted pantograph system and 90 by plug.

TMB Triangle garage.

For its part, the garage that TMB is focusing on is Triangle.

It has capacity for approximately 300 vehicles, which can be supplied by multiple 50 kilowatts (kW) pantographs and 150 kW for night charging.

The plan consists of taking advantage of the energy generated by the trains and the metro network to power the charging of buses at a lower cost.

As well as starting a Smart Charging process, which will allow the cars’ load to be distributed efficiently to avoid power peaks. 

This will make it possible to integrate chargers and infrastructure with bus services, with the aim of monitoring the charging status of each car, as well as scheduling their departure and arrival.

This management method will include software capable of managing 67 teams in Triangle, 21 in the Free Zone, 28 in Horta and nine on the street.

Both EMT and TMB have a very high technical capacity and, although it is changing now, they have always been pioneers in everything and are ahead in this transition,” highlights Yago García Rodríguez.

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