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News Article

Mexico's Planned Reopening Uncovers Holes in Cities' Mobility

By Peter Appleby | Wed, 05/27/2020 - 19:11

The June 1 reopening of three of Mexico’s major economies will bring more people back to public transport and roads as they commute to work. But as a report from the Mexican Institute for Competitiveness (IMCO) has underlined, citizens face several mobility problems in Mexico’s major cities.

Mexico is preparing to enter what is being referred to as the “new normal” following the nation’s shutdown in response to COVID-19. Earlier this month, some of the so-called “Municipalities of Hope” reopened as restrictions on movement were partially lifted. Other states including Oaxaca, Yucatan and Guerrero, among Mexico’s poorest, refused citing the fear of the potential spread, says IMCO. The lack of available medical care also meant Praxedis G. Guerrero in Chihuahua did not reopen as it was supposed to, according to El Financiero.

A recent study carried out by the Espinosa Yglesia Study Center found that just 20-23 percent of the country’s population can work from home. This means the rest of the population must face commutes through cities with transport systems and roads that already struggle under the weight of use. IMCO says that mobility issues in Mexican cities reduce their global competitiveness and play an active role in worsening the lives of inhabitants.

IMCO states that "A resilient city has competitive mobility: safe, comfortable, inclusive, quality, accessible, affordable and sustainable transport options, from which citizens can choose according to their needs.” Mexico City can lay little claim to these. The city’s Metro stations, for example, are areas of high insecurity for women. The metro trains have separate carriages for women and the station’s themselves have recently been hot spots for kidnappings. At the beginning of 2019, the city’s government enforced security at busy stations after a rash of kidnappings and kidnapping attempts. Women continue to feel insecure, reports Expansión.     

There are other problems. As IMCO points out, in the nation’s cities there are few alternatives to the private car in times of extraordinary events, like the COVID-19 pandemic. In Mexico City, the construction of car-centered throughways, like the second floor to Periférico, one of the capital’s ring roads, have done little to move away from a culture of private car ownership that overruns the city. Other issues, like the delayed and over budget interurban train between Mexico and Toluca have not helped ease the pressure on the rest of the capital’s transport network.

Peter Appleby Peter Appleby Journalist and Industry Analyst