Laura Ballesteros
Former Deputy Minister Of Planning
View from the Top

New Mobility Priorities for a New Administration

Thu, 01/11/2018 - 12:22

Q: What challenges need to be tackled when working toward implementing a sustainable mobility vision?
A: Any government working to offer safe and sustainable mobility faces two challenges. The first is to generate as many transportation options as possible to give people access to the city and reduce commute times. The goal should be to reach a modal split where 80 percent of the population uses public transportation, while less than 20 percent use their own vehicle. Today, 45 percent of people use public transportation, 35 percent are pedestrians, 2 percent are cyclists and the remaining are private vehicle users. The second challenge is to guarantee the population’s well-being. Road safety must remain a strategic priority in mobility planning for the next administration. The government must not fall into populist practices and remove all speed-limit regulations. These are the key to ensuring the safety of the population and we must keep working to ensure technology can save lives.
Q: What priorities would improve Mexico City’s mobility landscape?
A: The city must evolve following three fundamental guidelines. First, the government must ensure accessibility to the city through a safe, inclusive and structured transportation system. The current transportation network must grow by 30 percent or 240km of additional public transportation lines, which is the least the city needs to allow people to have access to their rights and all services the government can offer.
The best strategy for the city would be to invest in 24km of Metro lines to expand the existing network and decongest its stations. At the same time, the government should grow the Metrobús network by 80km and take the next step toward electrification of public transportation and overall mobility. Finally, the city should work on the implementation of a Metroférico, a 50km cableway system that would connect five north delegations with the city center. Right now, people traveling from the north of the city suffer commutes of approximately two hours. This system would reduce this time by 60 percent.
The second guideline the city should follow is related to street infrastructure. Streets are the base of mobility, so they must be universal and open to all users regardless of the method of transportation. The new government should invest in having complete streets, with biking infrastructure, confined lanes for public transportation and general lanes for private vehicles. The biking infrastructure alone should grow by 60 percent, adding 270km to the current network and providing better connectivity with public transportation systems.
Q: What should be the role of the private sector in the development of Mexico City’s mobility infrastructure?
A: Private investment is critical in the development of a successful mobility plan. Today, the government does not have enough resources to support these projects, which means PPPs are the best way to move forward. So far, PPPs have been an excellent vehicle for infrastructure development but the government must ensure that all projects are properly tendered to eradicate any form of corruption. Projects should be better planned to avoid most of the profits coming from infrastructure projects going directly to private companies. Today, only 30 percent of a project’s profit benefits neighborhoods while the company keeps 70 percent. This rate should be reversed to ensure the healthy development of the city. Similarly, the government must establish clear communication with companies to direct projects and technology developments toward what the city truly needs. The country needs committed investors that want to work on public infrastructure projects.