Passengers taking the tramway in Casablanca are now starting to benefit from the deployment of big data, Francois-Xavier Perin, the chief executive of RATP Dev, a subsidiary of France’s state public transport operator RATP, told MEED.

A real-time capture of data from the moment the passengers tap on their card to access the platform allows the operator to adjust the frequency of the train trips.

“Depending on the volume of passengers on the platform, the interval between the trains’ departure could be adjusted from six minutes to four minutes, for example,” said Perin on the sidelines of a conference in Dubai. “It is a very precise system that allows Casablanca to fully optimise the capacity of its tram system.”

Such a system can be replicated by existing and under-construcion urban metros to achieve efficiencies, especially as key municipalities transition into a more integrated public transportation system.

Perin said they are working with technology-oriented start-ups to develop future applications that can improve the passenger experience and increase public transport usage. The company is also looking into replicating a system designed for school buses in France, where both pupils and parents are notified by an app on the schedule of their buses, or whenever a bus arrives at the school, among others.

An integrated public transport sector is playing a crucial role in the smart city transformation of most cities from Casablanca to Riyadh, the executive added.

Close to $100bn-worth of mainline and urban rail projects are under construction across the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region and more than $220bn-worth of projects are currently planned.