Monday, June 8, 2009

Mexico City on the Move.......

Mexico City's new motto is "Capital en Movimiento", and DF residents, like Gandhi when asked about Western civilisation, think this would be a very good idea!! It is all part of the mayor Marcelo Ebrard's 15 year Green Plan for the city which also includes introducing bicitaxis around the zocalo and more bike friendly policies. (More on this in Thursday's post.)

One of the easiest ways to get Mexico City moving again has to be to attack the "Car is King" culture and get people out of their cars and onto Public Transport which is safe, reliable and cheap. It is a rite of passage for teenagers to start driving their own cars at 15, and commuters are happy to sit in 5 hours of traffic everyday - two and a half hours each way, but of course it is the paid driver that takes the strain whilst they are getting work done on their laptops!! Chauffeurs can be hired here for unlimited availability for as little as 6,000 pesos per month (500USD)

The Metro celebrates its 40th anniversary this year (1969-2009) and, with its bright orange French trains, it is fast and functional costing only 2 pesos (15 cents) per journey whatever the length. At rush hours it can get very crowded, and reports of pickpocketing and groping have led to women and children only carriages at these times (recently infiltrated by a 46 year old engineer dressed as a woman in the worst wig and dress ever...Check out David Lida's blog for the video of the arrest). But these problems seem few and far between, plus there are Security guards standing aloft on Vigilancia boxes to help you out, and it really is the quickest and most convenient way to get around....

There is a terrible class snobbery here that public transport is only for the poor and working class, people who can't afford to own or run a car or hire a driver. Tourists and expats are warned off and told that public transport is another of DF dangers to avoid at all costs, but these myths need exploding. I have travelled extensively here, independently, by a combination of bus, pesero, metro and taxi, and have never felt the need to have a car (unlike when I am living in London!!) People are friendly and helpful, and I have never experienced any problems in 4 years whilst travelling about by myself...

We recently had a taste of Mexico City really on the Move at the height of the Swine Flu crisis, when closures resulted in an amazing reduction in cars on the road, and the traffic flowed freely, plus road deaths (currently around 50 per day) were pretty much zeroed. As a final plea for Public Transport where else in the world can you stop to view an ancient pyramid site whilst changing lines on the Metro?? (Pino Suarez Metro Station)

What can other cities from around the world teach us about this issue?? For a glimpse into other parts of the world this week click here for MyWorld Tuesday posts...

18 comments:

Gallery Juana - ギャラリー ワナ said...

I've heard that Tokyo's got women-only cars as well as hotels with women-only floors for the same reason.

Wow! 5 hours makes for a long commute.

Gallery Juana - ギャラリー ワナ said...

I wanted to add that when I lived in Mexico, I also only used public transport with no problems. No what city in the world, you have to just have to be smart when you're commuting or travelling.

Gretchen FFreshink said...

Hi - thanks for the post. My husband and I always take the subway when we visit Mexico City. And then we always moan that it is so much more reliable, cleaner and more efficient than our El here in Chicago.We use the Insurgentes station most of all and have come to know other favorite stops as much by their pictograms as by their names. It's pretty amazing to get off at the Cathedral station and walk up into the Zocalo.

Keep up the good writing.

Joy said...

Perhaps it's just been a stroke of bad luck, but I have found the Metro to be unsafe. All while riding the metro within the past year, my father-in-law had his wallet stolen, my friend had his digital camera stolen, and my Spanish tutor (a local) was mugged at knifepoint. So, I do *not* ride the Metro alone and I do *not* carry anything valuable.

I rode the subway in NYC for many years without nary a problem but I do not feel very safe on the metro here.

Guy D said...

Thanks for the tour of Mexico city, great pics.

Have a fantastic week
Guy
Regina In Pictures

Marja said...

haha I love Ghandi's quote but that aside Here it is about the same people are married to their car and look down on public transport We basically only have a bus here. There is a train but the next city is 4 hours further
Being dutch I often take the bus and love to bike Thanks for your great post

Sylvia K said...

Always enjoy your tours around Mexico City! Great photos!

Have a lovely week!

SandyCarlson said...

That is very cool.

fishing guy said...

Cathrine: What an interesting post on the transporation of Mexico City.

Wolynski said...

Outside of New York, taking public transport in the USA is also a thing of snobbery - must mean you're poor. I'm a great believer in bicycles and little electric golf carts for cities as well.

Robert Brown said...

Wonderful post and I'm enjoying your blog. I'm considering a move to DF from the states and your reporting is very helpful.

Arija said...

Always so nice to catch up with what you are doing in big Mexico City. Really nice post about the transport systems.

garydenness said...

The metro in Mexico City is fantastic. The only complaint I've had in the last couple of years is that the metro card became unavailable shortly before I lost mine in January and has only recently been on sale again. Idiots!

I liked the metro so much I did this...!

http://mexicanmetromarathon.blogspot.com/

Gaelyn said...

Glad to hear about a green plan. I remember the traffic being awful in Mexico City many years ago. Something about license plate numbers determining which days you could drive. Also found the public transportation to be excellent. Great post.

jen laceda said...

I have lived in the Philippines for 20 years, so I fully understand the transportation issues of an overpopulated metropolis.
I think part of the problem / solution is also changing the people's core beliefs. Having a driver or a car is a matter of "social status". Changing this ideology can sometimes prove to be difficult. Hopefully, the government can convince people to have a change of heart with regards to trust and usage of their public transpotation system!

kristine said...

are you serious, he dressed up with a dress and wig?? Wow thats pretty insane!

Glennis said...

I do like the little green fun machine, I would enjoy playing in that.

Catherine said...

looks like you all have pretty strong opinions on this issue...thanks for contributing to the debate this week....