María Fernanda Rivera Flores
General Director of Road Safety and Sustainable Urban Mobility Systems
Ministry of Mobility
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Planning, Decentralization, Tech Key to Improve Mobility in CDMX

By Alessa Flores | Thu, 10/29/2020 - 09:13

Q: What are Mexico City’s problems and opportunities in terms of urban mobility?

A: We know that people's mobility is not free of inequality and that people who live farther away spend up to 30 percent of their income on transportation every day. Gender inequality is also an issue, since women mobilize differently and with different risks than men. Based on this, SEMOVI developed a Strategic Mobility Plan based on three guiding principles: integrate, improve and protect. In the first pillar, SEMOVI is the head of the sector and coordinator of all transport systems, such as RTP, Metro and Metrobus. Second, all mobility issues are already within the purview of SEMOVI in two key areas: planning and transport. The transportation area oversees all permits, licenses, taxis and cargo. In the planning area, we see all the issues related to coordination of transportation, mobility projects, mobility planning, sustainable transportation and road safety. We also presented a Gender and Mobility Plan through which we aim to eradicate the violence that women experience when using public transport and within their mobility, as well as to have more women making decisions in the transport sector. Today, we have a different transportation system, where we have more women discussing and planning for the improvement of women's mobility.

In terms of improvement, the third pillar is linked to the development of public mobility policies to ensure improved mobility for all people, particularly those who use public transport. Since 70 percent of journeys in Mexico City are carried out on foot, by public transport or by bicycle, we have implemented many safe crossings and cycling infrastructure policies that have grown significantly in the last two years. We also are working to decentralize mobility and grow the connections to peripheral areas that traditionally have not had the full attention of the mobility authorities.

Q: What are some of emblematic measures or projects in the area of mobility?

A: Within the pillar of “Integration,” the most important factor has been the large investments that have been generated in public transport. In the almost two years of the current administration under Claudia Sheinbaum, there has been strong support for mass mobility. Today, we have two new cable bus lines that will serve the high and low areas around Mexico City. On the one hand Line 1 will go from Cuautepec to Indios Verdes, a station that will also be remodeled to provide better service for modal transfer. In addition, in Iztapalapa, Line 2 of the cable bus from Santa Marta to Constitución de 1917 is being built, joining two key subway stations. In Constitución 1917, an elevated trolley bus is also being built, which will be an express transport from Constitución 1917 to Santa Marta to speed up the mobility of people from the peripheral areas to the city center.

We also made a strong investment this year and launched 200 trolley buses in Eje Central, Eje 7, and other distressed areas, replacing older units with new units and putting in a universal payment system. We have also bought 300 new RTPs to improve the transport service of peripheral areas or areas with less demand. The final goal is to have 500 trolley buses and 800 RTPs. In the case of Metrobús, the lines have been expanded, such as Line 5, which was inaugurated from Las Bombas to San Lázaro, that is, from the north to the south, with an extension that will reach Xochimilco. Another expansion is being carried out on Line 3, which runs from MB Etiopía to Zapata, connecting with Line 12. On this same line, the first electric Metrobus of the 10 that will be implemented this year was integrated. Finally, we will carry out an extension of Line 4 that will connect with Pantitlán up to the Airport. 

In addition to the improvement of units, SEMOVI has worked on the improvement and digitalization of procedures. Now, the licenses and permits for cabs are completely digital. This process will be accelerated by December to digitize all the procedures that were planned for the six-year period. 

In terms of cycling mobility, it has been a historic investment to double the number of trips by this means of transport, which today represents 1.5 percent of mobility and by 2024 we expect it to be 3.0 percent. This will be done through three strategies: building infrastructure, since many people are discouraged from using bicycles for fear of not having a safe bike path, building bike parking lots and promoting the ECOBICI system. The ECOBICI system will soon be submitted to an international tender for the renewal of all 10-year-old bicycles, which will help the system grow to 10,000 bicycles and 750 stations. We have built 170km of cycling infrastructure in Mexico City over the past two years, or over half of the city space.

Q: What improvements are you making to urban planning and bicycle mobility?

A: One of the deficiencies we see in terms of cycling mobility is that there are many bike paths that are not connected, so part of our strategy is to build “sutures” to connect the central area with connections that go from 300 to 800m to generate bicycle network connectivity. Other initiatives include creating a bicycle path called the "trolley-bike" that goes between the trolleys in the Eje Central lanes, where the drivers of the units also received road education to interact with the cyclists on this road, which connects from the South Central to the North Central. 

The project was to start creating peripheral networks for cyclists with connectivity networks to Mexico City's central zones. The Tlahuac Mayoralty, where there are many people who traditionally use bicycles, was one of the zones that benefited from a 30km bike path, in addition to 11km in Xochimilco and 24km in Azcapotzalco. This is in addition to the 54km of temporary bicycle lanes that were created to provide alternative mobility in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. The result of these temporary lanes was a growth of 250 percent in the use of bicycles on  Avenue Insurgentes since April.  In the case of bicycle parking lots, Mexico City currently has seven, of which four were built by the past administration. On the other hand, this administration has invested heavily in the field and in just two years we have built six bicycle parking lots that will continue to increase until 2024. The bicycle parking lots that exist now are Pantitlan, La Raza, Periferico Oriente and El Rosario. Among them, are the new massive parking lots of up to 400 bicycles in Tlahuac and El Rosario, as well as parking lots in Buenavista and Martin Carrera with capacity for 128 bikes. This year, lots in Escuadron 201 in Iztapalapa for 200 bikes and 100 for Olivo in Tlahuac are under construction. 

Q:  What are the main goals and objectives to be achieved by 2021-2022? 

A: This administration has a very ambitious plan for mobility to continue to integrate, improve and protect its transportation systems and users. In the medium and long term, we have plans to improve the quality of air by 2030 in Mexico CIty, as well as a project to improve the minibus network since it is estimated that seven out of 10 trips are made by this means. This transportation system and its vision are being modified for the first time to enhance not only the units but also how the system operates. In addition, the drivers were granted social security to recognize their work and it is also subject to regularization, in addition to the installation of cameras and GPS in more than 8,000 units. We are initiating a program of regularization of the units through fuel bonus incentives to have a better record of the transport units. Ultimately, a replacement program will be carried out so that all the units operating in Mexico City are improved.

Alessa Flores Alessa Flores Senior Journalist and Industry Analyst

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