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Capital of Spain

Madrid is the capital of Spain. With a population of 3.16 million people in the city and 6.3 in the metropolitan area it is the largest Spanish city. It is the financial, political, economic and cultural centre of Spain with its Iberian Peninsula. It also ranks among the most liveable cities in Europe. The city used to have a very extensive metro system that it continuously expanded, but due to the economic crisis the city has cut important subsidies for the public transport system and since then the quality and size have deteriorated massively.

Overall Grade: F 58%

Pie Chart 58
  • Graph Reduction Success Local Emissions
  • Graph Low Emission Zones & Bans of High Emitters
  • Graph Public Procurement Clean Cars
  • Graph Non-Road Mobile Emission Sources
  • Graph Use of Economic Incentives
  • Graph Traffic & Mobility Management Incl. Modal Split
  • Graph Promotion of Public Transport
  • Graph Promotion of Walking & Cycling
  • Graph Transparency & Communication Policy


Reduction Success Local Emissions

For PM10 Madrid stays safely under the EU limit values, while it has to be remarked that there is not a healthy threshold level even below these limits.

The air pollution problem for Madrid is NO2. There has been a certain reduction trend although levels have always been above EU limit values. However, NO2 levels in 2014 showed a significant increase and the beginning of 2015 the situation actually deteriorated. Six measuring stations (out of 24) had already exceeded the hourly limit value for NO2 for the whole year 2015 by January the 12th. Therefore, Madrid is far from complying with NO2 limit values.

The situation of economic crisis has caused a significant traffic reduction in Madrid (both private and public transport).

Low Emission Zones & Bans of High Emitters

There is no real Low Emissions Zone (LEZ) in Madrid. There are however small parts of the inner city where access restrictions are applied to reduce traffic intensity, in which priority is given to residents (access for not resident vehicles is forbidden at different times of the day). There were discussions on a possible LEZ for the whole inner city of Madrid. However, on this measure nothing was decided except for the aforementioned traffic calming measures.

Public Procurement Clean Cars

Madrid’s municipal fleet already receives particular attention for quite a while. In 2013, a total of 2,127 or 50.9% of fleet was either at least EURO V, EEV or retrofitted, a change of 5.4% or 165 vehicles from 2012. The city’s strategy aims at increasing the general share of gas, hybrid, and electric as well as low emission diesel vehicles.

Non-Road Mobile Emission Sources

There are a few programmes on non-road emission sources. Madrid created information measures like information brochures that inform about air quality issues in construction, maintenance and demolition of buildings. Furthermore a best-practice guide for construction has been created. With these publications the city aims at creating awareness of the problem and promoting measures.

Use of Economic Incentives

The city recently improved its parking system and introduced 10% higher fees inside a certain zone and increasing the sustainable criteria element in the parking scheme. The so called “Servicio de Estacionamiento Regulado“ (SER) leaves more polluting vehicle paying increased parking fees. However, there was not sufficient information retrievable to evaluate the impact of this certainly interesting parking strategy.

There are incentives for low emission taxis to accompany the taxi regulation as well as tax reductions for other vehicles.

Traffic & Mobility Management Incl. Modal Split

The modal share in Madrid in 2011 was 29.9% for motorised private transport, 38.4% for public transport, 29.4% for walking and 0.3% cycling. Compared to 2009, there was no positive trend visible. Motorised private transport rather increased instead of a reduction. The cities target of 3% cycling in 2016 seems not feasible anymore.

The Air Quality Plan of Madrid 2011-2015 was not completely implemented due to the impact of the economic crisis. Some of its measures like the Pedestrian Plan were not initiated because of lack of funding. Other measures like the bike sharing system were delayed more than a year from the scheduled plan and reduced in coverage. In 2013, the city has introduced a new taxi regulation, part of which addresses air quality issues. Furthermore, the city has implemented some 30km/h zones, but the council rejected a citizen proposal to spread the 30km/h speed limit to all the residential neighbourhoods of Madrid.

Promotion of Public Transport

Madrid traditionally has a comprehensive public transport system including metro lines, trams and busses. The modal split share varies from around 49% for the city area to over 60% in the city centre. However, in recent years since 2010, the public transport system has undergone a rapid decline due to lack of public investment. Since 2012, the city council has suppressed an annual subsidy of more than €100 million. The consequence was a substantial fare increase by an average of 21% between 2010 and 2013 as well as a decline in the public transport quality. There are about 16% less vehicles in the suburban railway system and frequencies dropped significantly. As a result, the public transport system has been loosing passengers in the last years (9% decrease in metro and 6% decrease in urban buses between 2011-2013).

Promotion of Walking & Cycling

The city has a very low share of cycling and planned to achieve an increase to 3% by 2016, however the plans were also hampered by a lack of funding that endangered that objective. The city planned to create a bike lane system of 575 km. In 2013, there were 316 km, an increase of almost 100 km since 2009. However, most part of the bike lanes are in the surrounding city and are used mainly for sport or spare time, not for day-to-day use. The most significant cycling promotion measure has been the bike sharing system My bici (1560 electric bikes and 123 stations). It was implemented in June 2014, after a delay of several years from the first announcement. At the moment it covers a small part of the inner city (smaller than it was scheduled), but there are plans to expand it (30% annually) to cover the whole inner city. Currently ,it has around 30,000 registered users and 4,000 daily uses.

The Air Quality Plan included a dedicated walking strategy, including an extension of pedestrian areas and information campaigns on walking in the city, but it was turned down due to lack of fundings. In addition, the council rejected a citizen proposal to spread 30km/h speed limit in all the residential neighbourhoods of Madrid.

Transparency & Communication Policy

Madrid has general measures to inform the public about air quality problems, including extensive background information on e.g. pollutants and legislations. There are IT applications with current air quality levels and a free SMS alert service when thresholds have been exceeded.

Beyond these information, the local NGO was quite critical of the information policies, including missing public warning in air pollution peak periods and rather useless environmental stakeholder groups. These information should actually downgrade Madrid on its measures for transparency and participation.

Website of Madrid on air quality (Eng.):

Response to Questionnaire

The city did not reply to the questionnaire.