The role of data in the new Sustainable Mobility Law in Spain

14.02.2024 · Javier Burrieza
The role of data in the new Sustainable Mobility Law in Spain

One of the aspects addressed by the new Spanish Sustainable Mobility Law is the role of data in the mobility ecosystem, introducing three key points regarding the management of mobility data: the Integrated Mobility Data Space (EDIM) as a common tool, the regulation of data-sharing mechanisms in the sector, and the generation of new use cases for mobility data linked to the development of evidence-based public transport policies. In this article, we provide a brief overview of these three instruments.

Following its approval by the Council of Ministers, Spain’s Sustainable Mobility Law (SML) is now in its second attempt to complete its processing. This law brings many innovations, including new planning instruments, financing mechanisms for public transport, test environments for mobility innovations, etc. Beyond these matters, the SML also addresses the growing prominence of data in the mobility ecosystem. In this article, we briefly review three key aspects of the regulation regarding mobility data.

The tool: Integrated Mobility Data Space (EDIM)

The Spanish Sustainable Mobility Law contemplates the creation of the Integrated Mobility Data Space (EDIM), a tool designed to gather updated information on transport supply and demand. This digital instrument aims to consolidate all information related to passenger mobility and freight transport in a single space, adopting a multimodal perspective that covers both urban and interurban dimensions. Article 14 establishes that the EDIM will incorporate data related to “supply and demand” for all modes, with a particular focus on publicly-owned transport services, “information on the financial situation and costs of providing public transport,” “investment statistics”, and an “inventory of transport infrastructure and terminals.”

This new tool is different from the current National Multimodal Transport Access Point (NAP), the standardised repository of transport supply data required by the European Union. The EDIM aims to broaden its scope, potentially consolidating information that is currently scattered across various sources of transport demand data. This includes well established databases (INE’s Passenger Transport Statistics, Aena’s Air Traffic Statistics, and data spaces from Spain’s Transport and Logistics Observatory, Railway Observatory, and Metropolitan Mobility Observatory), as well as recently created sources such as the Open Data Mobility portal, fed with travel demand information obtained from anonymised mobile network data exploited through Nommon’s Mobility Insights solution.

The EDIM will be a state jurisdiction. However, the SML acknowledges that cooperation between different governance levels is crucial for the design of the EDIM. Therefore, the Sector Transport Conference (an existing cooperation body between the State and regional governments) will be responsible for approving the objectives, structure, content, and operation of the EDIM (Article 8). Additionally, the Sustainable Mobility Administrative Forum envisaged by the SML, which also includes large municipalities, must participate in its definition (Article 14.7). The effectiveness of these cooperation mechanisms in defining the requirements of the EDIM will be crucial to its success.

Feeding the EDIM: Data Sharing in Mobility and Transportation

Data providers play an essential role in the ecosystem surrounding the EDIM: without their active participation, it runs the risk of becoming an empty container. While transport authorities will have a significant role in providing data, the involvement of mobility service operators is indispensable, given their influence on data availability and quality. In addition to the collaboration of public entities that operate urban transport services (e.g., municipal transport companies), the participation of private operators with a presence in both urban and interurban transport is needed for the success of the EDIM.

The SML dedicates an entire annex to prescribe which transport supply data must be shared by mobility service providers. Regardless of what European provisions already indicate, the regulation explicitly mentions “routes, stops, and schedules” for conventional services and the “vehicle access method” for on-demand services. Article 84 requires all entities providing passenger transport services to make this data available in digital format in the months following the regulation’s entry into force. The SML adopts NeTEx (Network Timetable Exchange) and GTFS (General Transit Feed Specification) standards as preferred formats for sharing this supply data.

On the other hand, the SML does not define the details of demand data sharing. There is a complex balance between the commercial sensitivity of demand data for some operators and the benefits that data sharing brings to transport planning. While Article 88 stipulates that administrations “shall make relevant statistical data related to transport and mobility and their impact on safety and sustainability public and easily accessible,” there is not a list of the variables to share analogous to what is prescribed for supply data.

Using the EDIM: Evidence-Based Transport Planning

Similar to how the National Multimodal Transport Access Point already facilitates the development of services for citizens (e.g., Mobility-as-a-Service applications), the EDIM is born with the mission of facilitating the design of evidence-based public transport policies. It should be a tool that “facilitates mobility management, improves the design of sustainable and efficient mobility solutions, and provides transparency for the design of transport and mobility public policies” (Article 13.2). In this regard, the Spanish Sustainable Mobility Law gives significant prominence to demand data in various new transport planning instruments and procedures:

  • The Document of Guidelines for Sustainable Mobility (DOMOS, for the Spanish acronym of “Documento de Orientaciones para la Movilidad Sostenible”), intended to be a national reference for the planning efforts of all administrations, will include guidelines for the “periodic elaboration of mobility stated and revealed preference surveys” (Article 16), as well as a framework of mobility monitoring indicators (Article 17).
  • The evaluation of state investments in infrastructure will be more comprehensive, relying on demand data as a key element. In addition to the usual ex-ante analyses associated with informative studies, two new phases of the planning process are defined (Articles 50 to 52): a “preliminary analysis of socio-environmental profitability” before the informative study, and an ex-post study performed five years after commissioning. The tasks to be carried out in these analyses and their methodology will be defined by a Ministerial Order in the two years following the entry into force of the Sustainable Mobility Law.
  • The reports to establish the so-called Public Service Obligations (OSP, for the Spanish acronym of “Obligaciones de Servicio Público”) — the name given to subsidised transport services (e.g., Cercanías services, inter-island air routes, etc.) — must include demand indicators, such as the “estimated number of users per year”, the “estimate of the percentage of users who would abandon private vehicles,” and the degree of “substitution and complementarity with other modes of transport” (Article 44).

Cooperation for Mobility Data Management

Pending its final definition after passing through the Spanish General Courts, the Sustainable Mobility Law proposes a series of instruments and procedures that pursue, among other things, an ambitious goal: to organise the management of mobility data in Spain. Its success will depend on the level of cooperation between industry stakeholders when designing and feeding the EDIM, as well as on the ability to generate the incentives and climate of trust necessary for demand data sharing, which will ultimately lead to better transport planning and management. Some of the ongoing experiences to apply the “data space” concept to the mobility sector, such as the European project deployEMDS, in which Nommon participates, will allow the exploration of different solutions for these challenges.