Mexico City transport
Posted on 18 September 2014
Metrobus and Ecobici transform the city
Metrobus and Ecobici transform the cityMexico City, the 2014 National Earth Hour Capital, has built one of the world’s largest BRT systems — Metrobus — and one of the world’s leading bike sharing systems — Ecobici — in a major overhaul of the city’s transport system. The transport sector contributed 62% of the total CO2 cut during Mexico City’s successful Climate Action Program 2008-2012. That program reduced emissions by 13% in just four years, beating the 12% target.
Keywords: bus rapid transit, bike sharing, public transport, climate action, pedestrianization
As of 2014, the Metrobus corridor system consists of five lines totaling 105 kilometers. A sixth line of 20 kilometers is under construction. As reported by the city, Metrobus transports 900,000 passengers a day, which puts it in third spot for throughput together with Guangzhou (850,000), behind Curitiba (2.3 million) and Bogotá (1.65 million), according to rankings from the Institute for Transportation & Development Policy (ITDP). Several thousand microbuses have been scrapped since the launch of the first line in 2005, and replaced with low-emission diesel buses and hybrid buses in order to create a Metrobus fleet of more than 400 modern buses. Metrobus has almost doubled the speed of public transportation, saving around 50% of time on trips while encouraging 17% of the population to shift from cars to public transport. Reduced congestion and improved air quality are two further benefits.
Metrobus is designed in cooperation with ITDP, and has a silver BRT rating by ITDP’s standards, which specify: segregated busways or bus-only corridors; signal priority at intersections; enhanced stations; pre-board automated fare collection and verification; at-level boarding; integration with bike sharing systems; and improvements to nearby public spaces. Line 5 and the projected line 6 follow best practice in BRT design by including center-aligned stations, wheelchair accessibility and integrated intermodal connections such as segregated bike lanes, bicycle parking and walkable greenways in the middle of the corridors. The system has a flat fare regardless of how far passengers travel, including bus transfers. The system’s operational costs are completely covered by fare collection.
In April 2014, ITDP Mexico presented a detailed proposal for a massive expansion of Metrobus, with 29 new lines covering nearly 500 additional kilometers by 2024, bringing the benefits of BRT to 7.5 million new passengers daily. This would easily make Metrobus the largest BRT system in the world.
Ecobici growing system
The Ecobici bike sharing system was launched in 2010 in downtown Mexico City, and has since been expanded twice. It is now recognized as one of the world’s leading bike-share systems (see also Paris). As of 2014, it had 275 stations and around 4,000 bicycles, and the third ongoing expansion will add 171 stations and 2,600 bikes. The system has attracted more than one hundred thousand members, who take nearly 30,000 trips daily, accumulating more than 18 million trips to date. Ecobici was launched as a part of the city’s Bicycle Mobility Strategy, which included planning for infrastructure, protected bike lanes, signposting, traffic lighting, installation of bike parking stations, road safety upgrades, an urban cyclists’ manual, and modifications to transit regulations. A survey in 2012 concluded that 64% of users did not ride bicycles before signing up for the system. Eighty-six percent of respondents noted improvements in their quality of life.
Revitalization of historic center
The Ecobici program is complementary to other initiatives such as reclamation of public space for pedestrian use, and the integration of cycling with the public transport infrastructure. Mexico City has worked with ITDP to develop a bicycle and non-motorized transport masterplan for the city (see also Copenhagen). The plan includes more restrictive parking rules (ecoParq), traffic regulation, and pedestrian priority streets. In recent years, Mexico City has received praise for its revitalization efforts in the 2013-2018 plan for the historic city center, which includes pedestrianized streets, numerous new bike lanes, and the arrival of Metrobus - lines 4 and 5 - to this historic center.
The initiative has started to transform the center, increasing mobility, accessibility and livability in the heart of Mexico City. When the city received the Sustainable Transport Award in 2013, the CEO of ITDP Walter Hook described the transformation: “Mexico City was like a patient sick with heart disease, its streets were some of the most congested in the world. In the last year, Mexico City extended its great Metrobus BRT system straight through the narrow congested streets of its spectacular historical core, rebuilt public parks and plazas, expanded bike sharing and bike lanes, and pedestrianized streets. With the blood flowing again, Mexico City's urban core has been transformed from a forgotten, crime ridden neighborhood into a vital part of Mexico City's future.”
Other transport projects in Mexico City include a program for busing schoolchildren; an additional metro line; an update of the trolley bus system; a green retrofit of 80,000 taxis; charging stations for electric vehicles (EVs); and a pilot project with EV-taxis in the historic center. All these efforts in transportation reduced carbon dioxide emissions in Mexico City by 4.8 million tons during the city’s 2008-2012 successful Climate Action Program, constituting 62% of the total reductions of 7.7 million tons (see also Mexico City).
carbonn Climate Registry, City Climate Report: Mexico City, http://citiesclimateregistry.org/index.php?id=312&tx_datareport_pi1%5Buid%5D=2
Institute for Transportation & Development Policy (ITDP), Mexico City, https://www.itdp.org/where-we-work/mexico/mexico-city/
ITDP, Bus Rapid Transit Information, Mexico City, http://www.worldbrt.net/en/cities/mexico.aspx
Government of Mexico City, Metrobus, http://www.metrobus.df.gob.mx/index.html#1
Government of Mexico City, Sedema, http://www.sedema.df.gob.mx/sedema/
Marcelo Ebrard, Quarterly Americas, “From ‘Make-Sicko’ back to Mexico City: The Greening of Mexico’s Distrito Federal”, http://www.americasquarterly.org/content/make-sicko-back-mexico-city-greening-mexicos-distrito-federal
Mexico City Experience, Green Living, http://www.mexicocityexperience.com/green_living/
C40 Blog, ”Mexico City meets, exceeds Climate Action Program goals”, September 11 2012, http://www.c40.org/blog_posts/mexico-city-meets-exceeds-climate-action-program-goals
Text by: Martin Jacobson