Laura Ballesteros
Undersecretary of Planning
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Public Transport the Backbone to Intelligent Mobility

Thu, 09/01/2016 - 17:13

Q: What are SEMOVI’s goals to transform the new mobility plan for Mexico City?

A: The new sustainability model aims to help all existing mobility models coexist. We want to make streets a more efficient element. The number of people traveling and not the number of vehicles on the streets will be the measure of our model’s efficacy. The paradigm change we are facing since Mexico City’s Mobility Law was published in 2014 placed the individual as a priority in public policy decisions. Planning, infrastructure and mobility services are defined according to citizens’ needs and safety.

We aim to generate intelligent mobility services with public transportation systems as the backbone. The metropolitan area needs a new city model wherein we live closer to our places of work, which requires a shift in mentality. The Metrobús facilitates the integration of quality public transportation with pedestrian infrastructure. The master plan for the confined-lane bus service consists of 11 different lines. We have built six, and will have built at least two more by 2018. We hope federal resources will support us to build another five to reach the final target. We already have the necessary budget for building Lines 7 and 8, but for the rest we need support from the federal government. We are lacking funding to cover a system that registers 23 million trips per day in the metropolitan area.

Q: How many buses do you project will be renovated or added to the public transport fleet?

A: SEMOVI is supporting the RTP network. These governmentoperated buses service various parts of the city that had been left out of the budget in the past. We have managed to gather MX$5 billion (US$294 million) for newer technology to improve emissions and payment methods. RTP units will integrate the Mexico City Card payment method, expanding universal payment to more public systems in the city. We also want to help 8,000 taxi operators to acquire electric units. The complete plan must include the Metropolitan Metrobús network consisting of 30 different routes between Mexico City and the State of Mexico. This network would need an investment of MX$35 billion (US$2 billion) to meet current demand for transportation.

Q: What is your forecast for the train being constructed to link Santa Fe and the State of Mexico?

A: The train is a federal project and the investment required was equal to that of the Metropolitan Metrobús network. The biggest difference between these two projects is that the train will only link Toluca and Mexico City, while the Metrobús network would have interconnected the entire metropolitan area. However, all investments in transport routes in the city are beneficial. This train will spark new activity in the western zone of Mexico City and increase the need for infrastructure. We must invest in the subway system to fulfill the demand that this train will trigger or consider creating several stops along its route. This mobility solution is positive but is missing the link with city transportation that SEMOVI is targeting.

Q: How did you expect car users to be affected by the vehicle regulations aimed at improving air quality?

A: Any pollution measure implemented must be applied across the geographical region. It is not enough to restrict car use in Mexico City and only certain municipalities of the State of Mexico. Neither Puebla, nor Morelos, nor Hidalgo complied with the emergency emissions measures to reduce pollution, demonstrating the importance of having one governing figure to enforce the public policies across multiple areas. These regulations must be accompanied by sufficient budget allocations to build the transport system. Otherwise, these regulations can only be a temporary measure to improve air quality without solving the problem long term.

As part of the contingency program, the No Drive Day policy led us to toughen up the process of verifying vehicle emissions. The next issue to face is the traffic problem, which was not solved with the contingency program. Nevertheless, Mexico City is better prepared for this change than any other town in the region. In 2014, we began to generate all the legislative, administrative, budget and planning changes that need to take place for an effective program implementation. We hope to share our experience with other cities to help them implement the best measures.