Cancel
Advanced Search
KEYWORDS
CATEGORY
AUTHOR
MONTH

Please click here to take a brief survey

Mexico City Metrobus Is Clearing Air, Traffic
Article Photo

By WorldChanging Guest Blogger Augusta Dwyer:

Negotiating Mexico City aboard one of its motley collection of buses, micro-buses and vans has long been a torment. Jammed into jerry-rigged seats or clinging on foot to overhead bars, passengers are either stuck in a sludge of traffic or careening down streets and avenues, heart in throat. Uncomfortable, unsafe, falling apart and prone to crawling the streets fishing for passengers, they are the bane of motorists and travelers alike.

Yet for a long time it seemed that there was no alternative - except for buying a car, which is what most people do as soon as they can afford it, adding 350,000 private vehicle a year to the overall mess.

An initial effort to deal with the problem has been the Metrobus, a twenty-kilometer dedicated bus lane lined with 36 new stations running along the center of one of the city's busiest avenues, Insurgentes. Microbus ousted 350 of the dreaded microbuses, replacing them with 98 low-pollution Volvo buses. While traffic flow has actually improved, Metrobus moves much faster than the rest of the traffic -- some 250,000 people use the Metrobus every day, and a journey that used to take over two hours is now down to 58 minutes. As a result of both faster traffic and speedier bus transit, the city's famously contaminated air is spared 35,000 metric tons of greenhouse gases annually.

However, the system has another innovative aspect to it: a combination of public and private ownership.

Metrobus director Guillermo Calderon knew he'd have a major fight on his hands if he just kicked the microbus owners off the street. "It would have gone against the politics of the city government and brought about major social problems," he said. "Insurgentes Avenue would have been totally blocked in protest."

Since a previous study of transit use on the avenue showed that about 7 out of every 10 persons used private collective transport, "we came up with an innovative scheme, integrating them into the business," he said.

While Calderon deals with management and planning, a consortium of two entities actually owns the system: the city-run Passenger Transport Network, or RTP, and a new privately-owned company called Corridor Insurgentes, S.A., or CISA.

CISA is made up of the 262 former microbus owners who had previously been offering service on Insurgentes.

"Of every 100 kilometers we run," said Calderon, "75 percent is run by the private company and 25 per cent by the public entity. I distribute these according to the buses they have and running times." CISA and the RTP also shared the costs of purchasing the articulated buses that cruise the busy avenue's dedicated bus lane.

CISA is an independent co-operative with shareholders, a few of whom actually drive the new buses themselves. "They can manage themselves the way they want," said Calderon. "They pay their dividends, their operators, as well as the maintenance and repair of vehicles."

As Calderon explained it, "The ingenious part of the system is to say to the drivers 'don't worry about passengers.' I assume that risk. If the bus is empty, it will end up costing me because I haven't planned properly."

To date, ridership is up, with 164 million users since Metrobus began operating. Mexico City mayor Marcelo Ebrard wants to see nine more such corridors installed before the end of his term. Much cheaper than subway construction, these new lines will move as many as 1.7 million passengers daily, providing a break for public transit users, motorists and the city's air quality.

In fact, Ebrard plans to spend about $2.5 billion on improving public transit, adding a new subway line and lengthening the Insurgentes dedicated bus lane. He is going to take on the rest of the city's microbus owners as well.

Along with buying new large buses and junking the aging fleet of microbuses and vans, "We want to convince them to participate in companies like the Metrobus," said Armando Quintero, the city's Secretary of Transport and Roads. "Instead of investing in infrastructure for private vehicles, we are going to invest in collective transport, so that it is no longer a poor method of transport for the poor."

Image: "The bus rapid transit system along Insurgentes Avenue in Mexico City, a project of EMBARQ - The WRI Center for Sustainable Transport." Credit: Robin Murphy, 2007/flickr.

Bookmark and Share


Comments

Mexico City as with most US cities had an excellent electric non polluting LRT system that lasted into the 1970’s with modern “PCC” cars. Even by today’s standards were modern, fast and efficent. They were abandoned and replaced with “owner operator” jitney and micro busses and a inadequate French financed rubber tire subway.

Interesting that Insurgentes Ave line was chosen for the new bus line which was one of the last lines to have its LRT line abandoned.

All be it that this was almost 50 years ago Mexico City has almost returned the quality and level of service it throw away as we did in the US.


Posted by: Alan Fishel on 5 Nov 07

Mexico City as with most US cities had an excellent electric non polluting LRT system that lasted into the 1970’s with modern “PCC” cars. Even by today’s standards were modern, fast and efficent. They were abandoned and replaced with “owner operator” jitney and micro busses and a inadequate French financed rubber tire subway.

Interesting that Insurgentes Ave line was chosen for the new bus line which was one of the last lines to have its LRT line abandoned.

All be it that this was almost 50 years ago Mexico City has almost returned the quality and level of service it throw away as we did in the US.


Posted by: Alan Fishel on 5 Nov 07



EMAIL THIS ENTRY TO:

YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS:


MESSAGE (optional):


Search Worldchanging

Worldchanging Newsletter Get good news for a change —
Click here to sign up!


Worldchanging2.0


Website Design by Eben Design | Logo Design by Egg Hosting | Hosted by Amazon AWS | Problems with the site? Send email to tech /at/ worldchanging.com
©2012
Architecture for Humanity - all rights reserved except where otherwise indicated.

Find_us_on_facebook_badge.gif twitter-logo.jpg