It has had to manage the setback that led to the closure of the website for the new public transport card just 24 hours after its launch. The director of the T-Mobilitat in the Metropolitan Transport Authority (ATM), Ramon Bacardí (Puig-reig, Barcelona, 64 years old), removes the iron from the display of names and surnames of more than 2,000 users of the T-Mobilitat, in addition to allowing the deletion of your accounts as a result of a security breach. He understands the public frustration that there may be due to the delays of the new transport tickets, but is confident in the current testing phase and remarks that, due to its magnitude, the T-Mobilitat is still moving within a few tempos reasonable.
Question. How do you handle it?
Answer. The normal. Solving problems, not too serious. The error was to leave open an access that should have been closed and that’s it. It has had no further consequences. We have taken the opportunity to do an internal audit with the Catalan Cybersecurity Agency.
P. You have been the director of T-Mobilitat at the ATM since July. It already was from 2014 to 2016, when he was replaced by Oscar Playá, who has now relieved him in front of the direction of the Metro. Has directing the new transit card become a hot potato?
R. We do not live it like that. A development of a fare system from anywhere can take years. The T-Mobilitat provides many functionalities. The technological world is advancing by leaps and bounds and we cannot be left behind. The coronavirus has also slowed us down. Perhaps a short forecast of the duration of the project was made. Now we are in tests, a heavy phase, because you always find things that need to be solved and retest.
“Soc Mobilitat lacked elasticity on a very social issue”
P. Did T-Mobilitat have too much technical ambition in its beginnings compared to other plastic cards that have been operating for years in cities such as Madrid or Valencia?
R. No, because our system may evolve technologically. We can go out with the mobile or the card. And if more systems appear in the future we can integrate them. At the time, the magnetic system was very new in Spain. Now it no longer supports many functionalities. We have no choice but to throw it away and make it new. We want this not to happen again.
P. In November 2020, you said that the winning company, Soc Mobilitat, was not up to the task to manage the project. Do you continue to think about it, more after what happened this week?
R. I said this because sometimes companies are too caught up in contracts. I can put myself in their shoes, because they have to charge a series of things. But, on an issue that has a great impact on the evolution of society, it is necessary to have a certain elasticity and perhaps this has been lacking.
P. Do you think that to achieve this flexibility it would have been better to bet on public management?
R. No. A private model is one thing, which has its detractors, and sometimes it looks more at the numbers than anything else. A public-private model allows you to have more economic lung and at the same time you have the public part that ensures that the social issues linked to all this pull forward. It is a good model because it mixes both advantages, although it has its complexity.
P. Did Soc Mobilitat outsource the design of the software from the T-Mobilitat website?
P. The ATM has opened a file with the company for compromising personal data. Will they introduce new sanctions?
R. It was a very silly human error, a mistake, and the data that could be consulted was very basic: the interests of the people have not been attacked, much less. You don’t have to take things out of context. We are in tests and, within ten minutes of detecting the failure, we have already acted to solve it. The same day we closed the web. But, as a public company, when we see that something does not work we move our legal advice to see if responsibility can be requested.
“We don’t want another system like the magnetic one, which has to be thrown away”
P. T-Mobilitat has generated 20.8 million in awards to other companies. Could any have been avoided if the calendars had been met?
R. No, they are logical. Not because it has been lengthened means that more assists are required. Some may have a longer durability than if it had been finished earlier. But there are fronts that must be controlled from the legal point of view and hiring companies to carry out the pertinent tests, small operators that occasionally require more personnel to make installations, etc. It is also a new project and there are aspects that you are thinking about and executing as you progress.
P. Some T-Mobilitat users have complained about the lack of training for bus drivers.
R. We started giving training before the pandemic and it was paralyzed. Now we are refreshing things because there are drivers who say: ‘Oysters, you explained this to me five or six months ago and I don’t remember.’
P. How are the tests going?
R. The contact points are active and we have distributed 9,000 T-Mobilitat titles. We are talking about 15,000 daily validations, still very far from reality, but we will increase the complexity of the tests. You think of all the cases, but you always leave some behind.
P. Do you dare to give a final date of departure?
R. It is very difficult. We will take steps, one after another.