June 01, 2005

Mexico City’s Metrobus Set to Open in June

As the project moves forward, there is hope among many of the city’s residents (80% of whom use public transport for their daily commuting) that a new, higher quality system will make their commuting time shorter, safer and more reliable than the current alternatives.  In the next few weeks, the regular buses and microbuses will be replaced by 18-meter, articulated Euro-III standard buses with a minimum capacity of 160 passengers, and four 1.2-meter wide doors that open at-level with the station platform. In addition to replacing the older vehicles, the Metrobus corridor will also replace the atmosphere of fierce competition for passengers and dangerous driving conditions by bringing former vehicle owners and operators under a payment-by-kilometer system.

Achieving this has meant negotiating directly with Ruta-2, the former concessionaire of Insurgentes. When the Metrobus corridor opens, the route will have 80 buses, 75% operated by CISA (a new consortium owned primarily by Ruta-2) and 25% operated by RTP (the government-operated bus service). The question remains of how the other corridors, operated by various concessionaires, are going to be awarded.

Not only is the project expected to improve mobility substantially for the 250,000 daily passengers that are expected to use the route, but the Department of the Environment for the Federal District also expects that emissions will be reduced by more than 73,000 equivalent tons of CO2 once the corridor is fully operational. However, actual reduction in emissions may be affected by the fact that Mexico’s national government does not produce diesel as clean as the Euro-III grade, implying that particulates are going to be higher than what is required by law.

Although 32 stations and two terminals are nearing completion along the 19.4-kilometer corridor, there is still much work to be done in terms of lane confinement, pedestrian access, and setting up the electronic payment system, which will use a pre-paid, contactless smart card. So far, ITDP has assisted the project on pedestrian access and training in operations for senior staff. In 2005 ITDP will continue its collaboration with the government on the pedestrian access and ticketing aspects of the system. While the improvements to the Insurgentes corridor is one step towards a more competitive transit system, a total of 33 BRT candidate corridors are identified in the “Integrated Program for Transportation and Roadways”, the Mexico City’s four-year transportation planning document.

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