Rufino León Tovar
Former Minister
Ministry of Mobility of Distrito Federal
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View from the Top

How to Address Mexico's Mobility Challenges

Tue, 09/01/2015 - 15:29

Q: How has Mexico City’s vision for mobility evolved over the past few years?

A: Mexico City is a city that was built for cars and that has evolved around cars. Previously, our mission was to make the roads more efficient, building overpasses and infrastructure. The new administration has taken a different approach, centered on a more structured mobility plan. Our ultimate goal is to invert the mobility pyramid currently in place, making pedestrians and cyclists a priority, followed by public transport, motorcycles, and then cars. The government is not opposed to car ownership, but it does seek to regulate the use of cars. We want universal access, which means having main roads with a bicycle lane, pedestrian access, and safe crossings for people with special needs. Metrobús is a perfect example of this, displacing microbuses in favor of bigger and more comfortable bi-articulated buses. This system has its own lane and we recovered the central island we had previously lost, reducing traffic considerably. We also added bicycle lanes, and we recovered spaces occupied by informal commerce to let pedestrians walk or run freely. To improve mobility with fewer vehicles, we have implemented a stricter parking network, which has brought huge benefits for the city. Certain neighborhoods are even asking for parking meters, given that the time required to find a parking space has been reduced from 20 to only three minutes in certain areas. We have also implemented a government program to promote carpooling among our workers. For bigger corporations, we encourage the use of private buses to transport people to and from the nearest public transport stations.

Q: How can Mexico’s legal framework support measures to address Mexico’s mobility challenge?

A: We presented the Mobility Law in December 2013, which included all the ideas related to our 24 different proposals in a single document. We constructed this bill over approximately 18 months, and it took seven more to be approved. In Mexico City, around 13 million trips are made daily, 70% of them made through public transport. Nonetheless, the other 30% occupy 90% of the roads. It is inappropriate for cars to occupy more space than people, so we are working on new construction regulations that will change the current parking paradigm. Right now, the law requires a certain number of floors within buildings to be designated for parking. Instead, we want contractors to apply these resources to public transport solutions, especially if the building is near a metro or a Metrobús station. Construction permits do not consider the traffic impact that new buildings could have on the city, which is why we are creating a study to determine how much property developers must contribute to the city’s mobility fund.

The latest revision to our Mobility Law was published in June 2014. Just 180 days after the enactment of the law, all the regulations were passed and we are currently in the process of creating new mobility laws, new traffic regulations, and a new vehicle control regulation. We want to deliver an integrated public transport system with enough quality for people to leave their cars at home. Furthermore, we aim to articulate door to door trips, making public transport accessible and safe. In the city, 50% of the 13 million trips taken are less than 8km, meaning there is great potential for those trips to be made by bicycle. The global parameters for these kinds of trips are between 8-10km, with travel times between 20 and 30 minutes. Our Ecobici network has 3,680 bicycles, and we have recently announced that we will double the amount of bicycles and the areas where people can have access to Ecobici.

Q: Which other innovative plans is the Ministry working on?

A: We have recently created a program to improve mobility for people with special needs called Taxi Preferente. We conducted a survey along with IPN that showed close to 500,000 people with special needs in the city, meaning that we need approximately 1,500 specially designed taxis on the streets. This service was inaugurated with 150 vehicles that have proper wheelchair access, parked at six of the most important hospitals in Mexico City. To complete the program, we plan to incorporate 120 additional units every three months, as well as incorporating a specially designed app for these vehicles. Essentially, we are trying to revolutionize the city. Another one of our projects is Noche Bus, which already has 11 structured routes throughout the city, for these buses to circulate all night.