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Exploring the Relationship between Mobility and Cities' World Mobility, Vol. 3: Lisbon

For this issue of Nissan Technology Magazine's World Mobility series, we take a look at the ancient European city of Lisbon, Portugal.

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For this issue of Nissan Technology Magazine's World Mobility series, we take a look at the ancient European city of Lisbon, Portugal.

Once Europe's gateway to the New World, Portugal is once again on the verge of becoming a leading world city - this time in the area of electric vehicles and charging networks. The pioneering MOBI.E project is an intelligent charging network for electric vehicles. By the end of the first quarter of 2011, it will comprise 1,300 normal charging points and 50 fast charging points in public places throughout Portugal, making it one of the largest EV networks in the world.

The network will allow optimal exploitation of the electric grid and, in the near future, will allow grid managers to control the electric vehicle charging process, transferring consumption from peak to low demand periods. Later, it will be possible to send electricity stored in EVs back to the main grid in a simple, user-friendly way. As well as being a charging network grid, MOBI.E also functions as a payment system, allowing users (among other service) to discover and select charging locations, plan routes and access the charge level of their vehicles via their PCs or mobile phones.

Additionally, from 2011 the Portuguese government has announced it will consider financial assistance for corporations that purchase more than 20% zero emission vehicles, and low-cost parking and priority rights for EV owners, in order to help the spread of electric vehicles.

And on December 22, 2010 Nissan delivered the first LEAF vehicles in Europe to MOBI.E, and they are currently on sale in Portugal.

Nissan Technology Magazine now takes a closer look at mobility in the historic city of Lisbon to find out more about the place where this cutting-edge development is taking place.
(c) Massimo Catarinella [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

City Data

Capital city of Portugal, Capital of the District of Lisbon, and Capital of the Metropolitan Area of Lisbon
Population: 564,657 (2001 Census)
Area: 2,870 sq. km. (Metropolitan Area of Lisbon)
Location: 38º42' N - 9º00' W
Average temperature: 15 °C (59 °F) during the day and 8 °C (46 °F) at night

Mobility Data

Major Roads: CRIL/A36/IC17 (Circular Regional Interior de Lisboa - Inner Ring Road), CREL/A9 (Circular Regional Exterior de Lisboa - Outer Ring Road), A1, A8, A5, A2 & A12.
Rail Infrastructure: Urban Metro Railway - 4 Lines (Metropolitano de Lisboa), Suburban Railways - 5 lines (CP Urbanos de Lisboa & Fertagus). Alfa Pendular high-speed trains (Comboios de Portugal)
Bus Services: Companhia de Carris de Ferro de Lisboa, Vimeca, Rodoviaria de Lisboa, Transportes Sul do Tejo, Boa Viagem, Barraqueiro
Tram & Funicalur Services: Companhia de Carris de Ferro de Lisboa
Ferry Services: Transtejo - Soflusa
Bridges: Ponte 25 de Abril and Ponte Vasco da Gama, both run by Lusoponte

Lisbon Transportation Systems

The City of Lisbon is located at the mouth and north bank of the expansive estuary of the Tagus River, where it flows into the Atlantic Ocean after crossing 1038 kilometers of the Iberian Peninsula.

The Metropolitan Area of Lisbon also includes administrative areas south of the river, creating a special situation of large commuter communities where residents have to cross the river to get into the city. These commuters travel on trains, ferry services, and in private vehicles using the two large bridges crossing the Tagus.


The "Ponte 25 de Abril," or 25th April Bridge, evokes comparisons with San Francisco's Golden Gate bridge because of its similar coloring. It was actually built by the American Bridge Company that constructed the San Francisco - Oakland Bay Bridge, and this bridge is very similar in design. The 25th April Bridge has three traffic lanes in each direction and two train tracks on a lower platform . An estimated 380,000 people cross this 2.2Km long bridge every day, with an average of 150,000 cars and 157 trains. Private vehicles pay a toll for this privilege, although only on the northbound route into the city.
25th April Bridge
The Vasco da Gama Bridge, at just over 17Km, is the longest bridge in Europe. It was opened in 1998 in time for the Expo 98 World Fair in Lisbon. It carries six lanes of traffic - three in each direction - with a speed limit of 120Km/h (the same as normal motorways). It is also a toll bridge, with vehicles traveling north into the city again having to pay and southbound traffic crossing free of charge.
Vasco da Gama Bridge
The 25th April bridge in particular can become extremely congested in rush hours, and frequent accidents complicate both entry to and exit from the capital. Perhaps this is the reason why a third bridge across the river is being planned, in conjunction with a new airport, to be inaugurated within the next 10-15 years.

An alternative to crossing either of the two Lisbon bridges is to take one of the ferry services operated by Transtejo-Soflusa. Commuters leave several ferry ports on the south side of the river and disembark approximately 20 minutes later at Terreiro do Paço or Cais do Sodré, which are the two main ferry ports in the city. There commuters can than travel onwards by bus or Metro. The service is clean, cheap and frequent, although the water can get choppy in the middle of the estuary from time to time!
Ships and boats of all sizes may be seen on the Tagus. The largest are the enormous cruise-liners docking at ports such as Santa Apolonia in the centre of the city.

Bus, Tram & Metro Services

Once in the city itself, the traveler can't fail to notice the bright yellow colours of the Carris buses and electric trams. The bus service is efficient, the fleet consisting of 745 modern buses operated by almost 1700 drivers. What most visitors to Lisbon marvel at, however, are the 57 electric trams also run by Carris, and especially the older models running through the historic and traditional parts of town.
Lisbon's Famous Number 28 Tram
The most famous of Lisbon's trams is the Number 28, since it labors up the steep hills of the Alfama Old Town district, past the Cathedral and near the Castle. Lisbon, like Rome, is known as the city of 7 Hills, and although the actual number may be hotly disputed, it is certainly true that it is a hilly city, with an aged infrastructure and cobblestone streets in the historic areas meaning that pedestrians - both young and old - walking about the capital often need to catch their breath from time to time. This, and likely the desire to travel for free, is probably the reason why Lisbon's young people can often be seen precariously balanced on the back of these old trams, hitching a free ride up the steep slopes.
A Free Ride!
The hills of Lisbon also play a part in another service operated by Carris - the much photographed "elevadores" or elevators, although they are in fact three funiculars (Elevador da Glória, Elevador da Bica & Elevador do Lavra) and one elevator (Elevador de Santa Justa). These services connect the lower lying areas of the city such as Baixa (literally meaning Low) with more elevated areas such as the Bairro Alto (yes, you guessed it, High Neighborhood).
Elevador da Glória
The Lisbon Metro, or Underground, is a four-line underground rail system run by the Metropolitano de Lisboa company. The 52 Metro stations are the pride of the city in their architecture and décor, since art is a major component of the great majority. Contemporary artists have collaborated in the refurbishment of many stations, and this combines with more traditional elements such as the typical azulejos, or Portuguese blue tiles to enhance the decor and aesthetics. The updates have also improved accessibility for passengers with reduced mobility.


Lisbon has several train stations in the city, although perhaps the best known is Rossio - located in the square of the same name, right in the middle of the downtown area. This delightful building plays host to one of the main lines, serving several outlying destinations. Visitors of the city will often use the train to make day trips to Sintra or the beaches of Cascais and Estoril.
Rossio Train Station


Most visitors to Lisbon arrive at Portela Airport. The planes fly in low over the buildings and on clear days passengers enjoy wonderful views of the metropolis, since the airport lies within the city boundaries. This has the advantage of short journey times to get to final destinations downtown, but the lack of space for expansion means the airport is fast reaching full capacity. Plans for a new aerodrome on the other side of the river have already been approved. For the moment, though, Portela airport continues to function as a major European hub, with direct flights to the Old Continent, Africa, Asia and the Americas.

The Future

Portugal's current financial situation may change the city's transport plans, but at the moment there are some major projects in the pipeline. Along with the new airport and the third bridge across the river to deal with the associated increase in traffic to the area, plans for infrastructure include a new high-speed train link with Madrid, and extensions to the Metro network. And, with one of the biggest EV networks in the world, Mobi.e, being developed in close collaboration with Renault/Nissan, Mobility in Lisbon will only get better!
Author: Roger Warwick.