How did the temporary closure of Line 5 affect the users of Madrid’s Metro?

AI of Things    21 September, 2017

The Madrid Metro is undertaking important improvements on their transport network. This year, Line 5 which links the southeast-northeast zones to the capital, is the third to display the notice of “closed for network improvements”

So that those publically responsible for the sector can make better decisions about how and when to undertake this type of improvement work in an informed and transparent way, it is essential to understand the impact that these actions have on citizens and their economic repercussions.

Today, thanks to location data generated by technological devices, such as IoT (internet of things) sensors and smartphones, it is possible to measure how these maintenance projects affect the population. Therefore, we decided to investigate what type of response we would obtain from the system of location intelligence, combining public open data with data insights from mobile phones.

A summer closure of 62 days

As with what they achieved on line 8 at the start of the year, the Madrid Metro worked to offer a better service to citizens, by carrying out maintenance works as well as improvements in signposting and lighting. But making the decision to close an infrastructure like this in such a heavily populated area is never easy. In this instance, the decision on the best time to undertake the works was based on seasonality. Therefore, the closure of the line took place in the summer months as there is less demand in this period due to summer holidays. 

Nevertheless, how can those responsible of making decisions in the city truly know the best time for the closure? How can they make use of previous closure experiences on other lines to optimize future maintenance works? 

Making decisions based on Intelligent Location data is the first safe step to minimize the negative impact on the public transport system. 

The residents of the suburbs and outskirts are most affected

Line 5 of the metro is the 4th most popular line for the residents of Madrid, transferring passengers from the outskirts of the city (areas such as Carabanchel and Ciudad Lineal) to the city center. The closure of the line is most detrimental to the residents of these zones, as those who live in more central zones have access to a greater variety of transportation alternatives. 

In order to analyze movement patterns in a city, it is fundamental to know where the people who are moving live and where they work. This data can be found in different ways. For example, according to the “Atlas de la Movilidad”, in the district of Carabanchel the greatest number of workers live (followed by Vallecas, Latina, Fuenlabrada and Móstoles, all of which are located in the southern zone). Nevertheless, the area of Julián Camarillo (also on Line 5, station Sauces) is the most used area of offices and work places (after AZCA, Barajas, Gran Via and Valportillo in Alcobendas). 

This shows that the majority of the workers reside in the south of the city, but have their workplace in the north. Therefore, workers in the zone of julián Camarillo will be the most affected by the closure of the line. 

Nevertheless, in order to offer high quality location intelligence, our partner Carto decided to go one step further and make contact with one of their partners, us. Here are LUCA we were able to bring a greater granularity and understanding, thanks to our platform LUCA Transit which uses aggregated and anonymized data from mobile clients, allowing a better understanding of how groups of people move.  

The Smart Steps technology allows the identification of particular “points of interest”, based on recurring locations of mobile telephones (offering movement trends that cover approximately 40% of the Spanish population). In this particular case, the points of interest to study were the place of residence and the place of work. 

One of the most relevant insights that reflects the data (as you can see below) is that Line 5 journeys covering areas outside of M30 ring-road carry more than 50% of the passengers that use the line. This highlights the fact that the residents of the outskirts are the ones who suffered the greatest impact from the closure. 

Figure 2: effect on residents living in the outskirts.

Geomarketing campaigns and the promotion of vehicle sharing

Once the first challenge of using location data to generate Insights has been overcome, it is fundamental that those publically responsible receive investment for projects based on data to make better decisions for the benefit of the city. 

For example, this information can be used to choose suitable routes and time frequencies for the replacement bus service. The passengers who live in the center may have 2 or 3 bus routes that can be used as an alternative. However, passengers in the outskirts of the city, that we are analyzing in this study, do not have many other options. 

The local authorities can also decide to launch geomarketing campaigns in order to raise awareness for the available transport alternatives during the works, or to promote the use of shared vehicles in suburban areas. This has the objective of alleviating the negative impact on transport during the works. 

In summary, it is clear that the use of location data for the optimization of decisions on infrastructure and movement is of great value to the authorities who want to bring transparency to their decision making process. Citizens want to live in more intelligent and efficient cities. Location intelligence is a powerful tool for leaders who want to make data the cornerstone of their strategy and public service. 

If you want to know more about this topic, visit LUCA´s website

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