Laura Ballesteros
Undersecretary of Planning
Ministry of Mobility (SEMOVI)
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SEMOVI Calls for Greater Public Transport Integration

Tue, 11/01/2016 - 15:03

Q: What are the challenges of implementing a new mobility system in terms of resource allocation and investment?

A: For many years, 73 percent of the infrastructure budget had been allocated to grey infrastructure, which includes urban roads, highways, bridges and parking lots. In terms of public policy, automobile drivers received privileged treatment. The private car’s dominance in public spending classifies it as the most important means of transportation in the city, leading the authorities to neglect investment in public transport. Inefficient resource allocation generated the consequences we are experiencing today. Almost 83 percent of Mexico's population lives in cities so a main priority for governments is the distribution of resources allocated to mobility systems. According to the latest government poll on commutes carried out in 2007, Mexico City registered a modal split of 20 percent oriented toward the use of private vehicles and almost 70 percent to public transportation. Today 30 percent of the population uses private vehicles and 60 percent uses public transportation. This is a consequence of the public policy previous governments implemented.

Q: How can infrastructure be changed to support sustainable transportation?

A: Around 45 percent of commutes in Mexico City end in the city center, namely in the areas of Benito Juarez, Cuauhtemoc and Miguel Hidalgo. An average commute on public transportation sees users taking four different modes of transport to reach their destination. This multimodal consumption increases the importance of generating a supply chain that offers several options for people to choose from. The goal of SEMOVI’s new sustainability model is to help all the mobility models coexist. Efficiency will be measured by the number of people traveling and not the number of vehicles on the streets. Mexico’s City Mobility Law, published in 2014, forced a paradigm shift that placed the individual as a priority in terms of public policy decisions.

Q: What led the government to overhaul public transportation and mobility options?

A: Mexico City has characterized itself by its growing vehicle park. Our traffic levels are comparable to those seen in Asian or US cities and investment in public transportation is the only option we have to create balance between the city’s modes of transportation. If a street’s efficiency is measured by the number of people who use it simultaneously, public transport is the most efficient at moving the most people while monopolizing the least space. A car uses the same space as 12 bicycles but a Metrobús carriage can replace 250 cars. This not only reduces pollution but also traffic. We acknowledge that people who use public transportation are also those who walk the most so we need integrated mobility systems. Public transportation infrastructure must be linked with pedestrians and include technological transport services such as Uber and Cabify. These mobile apps help users plan their trips while other applications can coordinate carpooling or car-sharing services. Our goal is to generate intelligent mobility services with public transportation systems as the backbone.

Q: What are your projections for the number of buses that will be renovated or added to the public transport fleet?

A: The master plan for the Metrobús service consists of 11 different lines. We have built six and our goal is to build two more by the end of 2018. We hope federal resources will support us to build the remaining five to reach the target of 11 routes. We already have the necessary budget for building lines 7 and 8 but for the remainder of the lines we need the federal government’s support. SEMOVI is supporting the Passenger Transport Netowrk (RTP). These governmentoperated buses service various parts of the city that had been overlooked in the budget in past years. We have managed to raise MX$5 billion (US$263 million) for newer technology to improve emissions and payment methods. The RTP units will integrate the Mexico City card payment method, expanding universal payment to more public transportation in the city. We also want to help 8,000 taxi operators acquire electric taxis. The complete system must include a Metropolitan Metrobús network composed of 30 different routes between Mexico City and the State of Mexico. This metropolitan network would need an investment of MX$35 billion (US$1.8 billion) simply to meet the current transportation demand.