People Traffic Versus Car-TrafficWed, 11/01/2017 - 15:32
It is no secret Mexico needs to improve its mass transportation systems (MTS). Transportation is not only a problem in Mexico City, but now cities such as Monterrey, Guadalajara and Queretaro are seeing symptoms of the country’s dysfunctional, and in some cases nonexistent, public transportation systems
In 2015, CEPAL estimated that for every 1,000 habitants, there were at least 300 cars. The lack of public transportation incentivized the use of cars and for this reason, cities began to carry out their urban planning around vehicles too. According to AutoTraffic, most of public resources assigned for urban infrastructure have been historically used in increasing capacity for cars, creating bypasses, distributor roads and bridges. Approximately 77 percent of federal investment in mobility has been for cars, yet three out of four trips made in a city are made by bicycle, public transport or walking, CTS Embarq estimates.
“There needs to be more investment in MTS and urban transportation alternatives because options like second floors are extremely expensive and in the long term are not a viable solution,” says César Monroy, Director of Infrastructure at PwC. Local and federal governments are realizing that they have to start investing in MTS and during Peña Nieto’s presidential term, various projects were contemplated, including the Mexico-Toluca Interurban Train and the Guadalajara Electric Urban Train. But as usual, tight budgets and ROW issues make the projects go on for years and seem unfinishable.
“Projects that are located inside the Mexico City metropolitan area are far more complicated due to the high level of interaction a project will have with existing infrastructure in the area,” says Jorge Torruco, Director of Construction at Omega. “This is complicated by the fact there is continuous congestion in terms of vehicles and people, which also generates social problems that can impact the performance of the project.”
CONNECTING MEXICO’S MEGAPROJECT
Connecting NAICM to the rest of the city has been a pending issue in the government’s agenda given its remote location. One of the options the Mexico City government is considering is the Observatorio-NAICM Express Train. This train will travel between the Observatorio Metro station and NAICM, a distance of approximately 25km, passing through the downtown area. According to INEGI, when considering the 42,640m from Observatorio to NAICM, with approximately one block of margin, over 34,507 homes and more than 96,000 people could be impacted.
One party that is familiar with problems on the route to Observatorio is Omega, one of the developers of the third section of the Mexico-Toluca train. The train’s route has been changed due to the difficulty of liberating the rights of way (ROW), as it will run through heavily populated areas from Santa Fe to Observatorio. The train’s route was changed once because of the inconvenience it would bring to the people of Santa Fe and then changed again due to the concerns of the quantity of trees that would be uprooted in the process. Omega, one of the companies developing the project, stated that the changing of the original path has heavily impacted the estimated costs and budget, which will impact the viability of the project drastically.
The Mexico-Toluca Interurban Train is on a tight timeline and the La Marquesa-Observatorio section as of October 2017 is only 35 percent complete. When completed, the train should greatly reduce transportation times and traffic from Toluca to Observatorio. But the congestion of the Observatorio station could pose a problem. “The next challenge to be solved is the connection between the train and Metro Observatorio since the current station will have to be adapted to receive excessive amounts of people at peak hours,” says Monroy.
Observatorio will become the newest Mexico City Modal Transfer Center (CETRAM). The city currently has 42 CETRAMs scattered in various delegations. These centers have been undergoing renovations for years but given the high rates of passenger traffic, it is hard for authorities to keep up. Tasqueña is one of the largest CETRAMs with more than 29.9 million users per year. It interconnects the south of the city with incoming passengers from Morelos and Guerrero, as well as the Mexico City Light Train. Once the Mexico-Toluca Interurban Train is finished it will interconnect Line 1 and the future lines L9 and L12 of the Metro system. It will service more than 230,000 extra passengers every day in addition to the commuters that already arrive to Observatorio.