Jesús Padilla
President
Mexican Association of Mobility and Transport (AMTM) and Director General of Insurgentes Corridor (CISA)
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View from the Top

Integral Solution Evolving to Discourage Driving

Thu, 09/01/2016 - 15:22

Q: How did CISA move from dealing with owner-operators to working with newly formed companies that oversee larger fleets?

A: In 2003, the government began outlining a plan to establish the Metrobús BRT in Mexico City. The existing bus Route One on Insurgentes Avenue was in great need of improvement so we decided to develop our project there. One of the main influences in the government’s decision to build on this stretch of the city was knowing an agreement with the transport union could be reached. We held long meetings and debates for almost two years until reaching a consensus in June 2005, integrating 262 stakeholders that previously managed 150 buses and 102 midibuses.

After 10 years, our relationship is still strong. Through centralized management, transparency and dialogue we provide a secure and regulated service. The Metrobús project now operates with nine companies and over 2,000 partners. CISA is the largest company involved, evolving from 60 Metrobús units to a total of 100 BRT vehicles.

Q: What benefits does CISA offer its partners and clients now that it has reached greater heights than expected?

A: Mechanisms like the safety standard ISO-9000 ensure that our service meets the quality standards that we strive for, as well as those expected by passengers and the government. We are a socially responsible company, committed to Mexico City’s community. CISA works on multiple projects that benefit people of all ages and backgrounds while ensuring that salaries accurately reflect workers’ responsibilities. Alongside standardized processes that safeguard our partners' assets our operators and associates are entitled to a vast range of benefits, creating greater integration and stability. Operators understand that our plan offers stability. They work an eight-hour shift instead of 16 hours, have days off, paid sick days and receive profit-sharing. Additionally, they can protect their family with social security.

Q: What does the federal government require of CISA?

A: Initially, we were asked to show the government our financial and technical capabilities, which were stalled because banks granted us a 14.5 percent interest rate which is far higher than the regular requirement. Most banks did not believe in our project but all these difficulties provided the most effective training the company could have possibly received. They allowed us to understand our business in greater detail. Cost structure, escrow composition and payment priorities are all essential elements of our operations.

After CISA developed a reliable project, the government became interested in introducing BRT systems to different states. Although they differ from Metrobús, they were developed based on our project. Metrobús lines offer a fantastic level of security and an admirable administrative system, which we hope other providers will continue to emulate. We are extremely careful to protect the environment, promoting innovation by demanding improved components for future endeavors.

Q: How feasible are exclusive bus lanes, considering the existing vehicle park and the available infrastructure in Mexico?

A: The only way to modify the situation is by discouraging people from driving. This will only work with a safe, accessible and reasonably priced alternative, including a place to park before boarding a BRT unit. Additionally, the system needs to connect users with their exact destination. This will require an integral solution comprised of differently sized and powered vehicles that cover the whole city. Town planning requires a lot of investment, and the construction of tunnels and bridges to facilitate travel around the city is no easy feat. Moreover, the lack of high-quality pedestrian infrastructure in Mexico prevents people from using public transport. The driving culture is unlikely to change unless the quality of sidewalks and street lights improve to make pedestrians feel safe. For this reason, the Metrobús system is just the first step toward an integral solution that will help the Ministry of Communications and Transport (SCT) change the mindset of Mexicans. We can be an ally to authorities but we need the government to commit to a long-term effort with us.