María Teresa Safón
Transport Director
View from the Top

Technology to Boost Intermodality and Efficiency

Tue, 11/06/2018 - 09:51

Q: What role will technology play in Mexico’s future transportation systems and how has Indra participated in boosting the efficiency of Mexico City’s Metrobús?
A: Technology plays a vital role in everything related to efficiency, security, intermodality and transport. Indra focuses on technology consulting. Technology is vital to guarantee the reliability of transport systems, to have the entire MTS fleet localized at all times and to reach intermodality so that the service is easier to use. Technology also provides reliability in terms of times, routes and action plans in response to contingencies. In Mexico City, we are working on all of the operating Metrobús lines. Every line integrates our Operation Assistance Systems (OAS), which includes onboard video-surveillance units, a driver panic button and console, GPS and information systems for passengers at stations.
These technologies increase the reliability of the Metrobús service by focusing on security and efficiency. Having both the fleet and the stations monitored increases security and helps the police solve traffic and vandalism incidents quickly. As of 2018, more than 600 units have our technology integrated and more than 1.2 million passengers a day benefit from it. The Intelligent Transportation Information Center (CITI) controls the seven Metrobús lines. This center allows a more efficient management of Metrobús fleets and allows for a faster reaction to contingencies during its day-to-day operations.
Q: How have the public and private sectors embraced innovation and new technologies for transport infrastructure?
A: There is appetite for innovation, especially in the private sector. Companies are looking for strategic technological partners to innovate within the market. Indra invests 6-8 percent of its annual sales in R&D. In Europe, Indra is a leader in many innovative projects with both public and private initiatives. The Connected Vehicle for example applies artificial intelligence to a vehicle so it can interact with others and the infrastructure, collecting data on vehicle occupancy, which can lead to dynamic tariffs. These features are not yet in demand in Mexico from the public sector but the private sector is interested in starting to integrate the technology.
Indra’s experience in Mexico’s transport segment has been predominantly with the private sector but we do not limit ourselves. Our transport services are divided into four markets: traffic, urban transport, ports and airports and railroads. We are collaborating in more traffic projects in Mexico, and most of our client portfolio is in the private sector because we work closely with most toll-road concessionaries. There are very few public tenders associated with technology systems applied to roads, with the exception of those tendered by CAPUFE or Banobras. Metrobús for instance is not our final client; we work directly for the operators. CAPUFE is not our final client either, as we work for the operator of that road. Roadis is an operator that is interested in finding alternative payment options through cell phones or other methods. More efficient payment options have been integrated into MTS projects but toll roads have been more standardized and have not advanced in integrating innovative technologies.
Q: Why is the technological adoption rate in Mexico for toll systems slower than in other countries?
A: Mexico has low bank coverage rates. In Europe, credit card payments for toll systems function well. In Mexico, payment would be limited to approximately 35 percent of the population due to the low penetration of these products. The payment collection method must ensure coverage for the majority of the population. I believe that credit cards will increasingly penetrate the market because these payment methods are far more secure, prevent fraud, are much more efficient and would help homogenize the system so users do not need different cards for different segments or roads. We want to revolutionize toll systems in Mexico through alternative payment methods.