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News Article

Shared Mission: Heavy vehicles, Mobility, Sustainability

Thu, 09/22/2016 - 12:28

Mexico must generate a new paradigm where the individual and sustainability are at the center of mobility public policy and public transportation systems, according to a group of key sector leaders at Mexico Automotive Summit 2016.

Laura Ballesteros, Deputy Minister of Planning at the Ministry of Mobility; Enrique Enrich, Director General of Scania Mexico; and Ignacio García, Vice President of Mexico & Latin America at Cummins participated in the panel “A shared mission: Heavy vehicles, mobility and sustainability.”

In Mexico City, which sees 5.5 million cars on the streets every day and 23 million rides on public transportation, creating a safe, comfortable and multimodal transport system is a priority, said Ballesteros. Of the 5.5 million cars, 60 percent are from the State of Mexico. She stressed the need for the city “to recognize the failure in terms of sustainability of the previous mobility plan and the need to create and implement a new mobility model.” This is the intention of the mobility law, implemented from 2014 onward.

García added that the disordered growth of the metropolitan area has led to high levels of motorized transportation. Should the trend continue, by 2020 Mexico City would be seeing 7.5 million vehicles on its streets. “In Mexico City, 77 percent of the city’s budget for mobility is invested in car infrastructure rather than mobility,” García said. But he added that the city seems to be going in the right direction. “The promotion of non-motorized vehicles and implementation of parking meters are discouraging the use of private vehicles,” he said.

The public transportation model also is transforming. The use of bigger units and telematics is key for optimizing the system, Enrich said. For heavy vehicles OEMs such as Scania, unit production is no longer the priority. Instead they need to focus on the services that are needed afterward. The use of new fuels should also be a priority but “unfortunately, in Mexico, natural gas does not have the support it should have.”

The use of natural gas to fuel buses has several advantages. Vehicles fueled by gas generate lower emissions and less noise pollution. “Electric buses might be the future but gas engines need to be the present,” said Enrich. The Scania Director General also stressed the importance of fleet renovation. “There is no point in having 20 Euro VI gas-engine buses if the rest of the public transportation buses work with 10-year-old technology.”

Enrich pointed out the maintenance limitations that mean electric transport is not yet affordable. The middle ground should be natural gas going from 1 percent gas-powered buses to catch up with California at 65 percent.

Having clarity in legislature is crucial, said García, and for the country to be ready for technology to become part of the mobility plan. The cost of a new low-entry bus is US$5,000 more than a normal unit, according to Enrich. Tijuana is already implementing this style of vehicle to enable access to those with physical limitations and to ultimately make loading and unloading of passengers faster for all. “This technology was tried and tested in Europe and now we can implement it in Mexico,” said Enrich. “When European countries have also successfully implemented electric buses, we can do the same in Mexico but there is no need for the country to shoulder this expense yet.”

For the capital’s future, Ballesteros evoked a sustainable cities model to connect people with their destinations. This should be standard in densely populated cities. García said that Cummins hopes to help clarify the legislative standards to make it clearer what the city can offer the market and what it needs in return.

Ballesteros supports the MX$1 billion investment that would rid the capital city of its Microbuses, emergency solutions to mobility that became intrinsic to transport but which should be removed partially in 2017 and completely in 2018. This is expected to be a popular move among all Mexico City´s commuters.