Rufino León Tovar
Former Minister of Mobility
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View from the Top

Integrated Mobility System Designed to Keep Mexico Moving

Tue, 09/01/2015 - 15:10

Q: What have been the most successful mobility programs implemented in Mexico City?

A: Our program foresees an integrated system that allows users to move from one type of transport to another as needed. This has led to the creation of several mobile applications to plan trips according to the available transport to reach any destination. We have recently updated the system so that it marks incidents or accidents en route, pulling information from all public transportation organisms in the city, including Metro, Metrobús, RTP, and Electric Transport. Next year, we will include transports under concession, an initiative that has not been applied anywhere else in the world. Furthermore, we want to ingrate all means of public transportation under the City Card access platform. Another pillar of the Integral Mobility Strategy involves promoting a mindset oriented toward the use of public transportion. This means that areas with a greater citizen concentration will coincide with public transport hotspots. We have modified the city’s divisions to avoid long-distance journeys on a daily basis, developing specific centers catering to individual needs, such as a specialized judicial city, and a hospital city in Tlalpan.

Q: What budget has the city allocated for mobility projects?

A: This fluctuates because of each division’s budget. The metro has been allocated an annual budget of MX$12 billion (US$780 million), electric transportation receives MX$600 million (US$39 million), RTP is given MX$2 billion (US$130 million) and the Metrobús budget reaches almost MX$200 million (US$13 million). Additionally, Mexico City’s Ministry of Public Works and Services is allocated MX$52 billion (3.4 billion) for mobility projects. A department within the Authority of Public Spaces is also assigned to help us manage public spaces and renovate forgotten urban areas.

Q: What criteria are used to decide which mode of public transport options will be used in a given area?

A: There are three criteria to consider when implementing new public transportation systems. The first factor is the volume of people that require the service. Secondly, we consider the potential complications that could arise from the construction works, and the third is environmental sustainability. Every five years we conduct a survey on public transport methods so we can map the population’s needs. The city is placing emphasis on Rapid Transit Buses (BRT), as well as the Rapid Bus Service (BRS), which uses assigned lanes but with conventional 11-meter buses. This system has a centralized collection system, predetermined stops, and card validation access. We opened two new lines in 2014, one of them in conjunction with Autobuses Troncales Lomas (ATROLSA).

Q: What is the most complicated part of implementing mobility programs?

A: One of the main complications is how to manage public service concessionaries. Every person in Mexico City has witnessed the chaos caused by dangerous incentives driven by passenger volume. In an effort to transform owner-operators into private companies, we have ceased issuing these types of concessions. Private companies offer completely different incentives, the drivers have a fixed salary, and the company benefits from offering services with well-spaced stops.

Q: What are Mexico City’s future mobility priorities?

A: We need to develop an aligned political environment, access to financing, and a shared vision. The challenge is to promote our agenda in order to generate the necessary budget for our strategy in the coming years. We have a wide range of goals, including the replacement of old minibuses, the construction of 100km of integrated roads, doubling the capacity of the Metrobús network to at least ten lines, and the expansion of the BRS system to 40 routes. Public transport in the city covers 1,240 routes and, although mapped, they are constantly changing. Therefore, we are now collaborating with telephone companies to implement a tracking system that will obtain data regarding volume at any given stop or station. We have also developed a pilot app called Deja Vu, which provides information about nearby buses and estimated time of arrival. Strict planning and extensive studies are conducted before undertaking any new project. For instance, to support the privatization of the minibus system we have carried out technical studies. This is necessary to gauge the flow of passengers and effectively communicate it to the new companies.