How will carpooling work in Mexico City?

The Government of Mexico City intends to end the problems of road congestion and the air pollution that derives from them. To do this, the authorities have presented an emissions reduction plan that includes various measures, among them, the restriction to cars that have license plates from other states, cargo vehicles and the creation of a more robust network of public transport.

One of the topics that has most caught the attention of users on social networks is the self-sharing scheme. According to the document presented by the mayor, Claudia Sheinbaum, as part of the management of private car trips, it will seek to have shared trips on controlled access roads. These will be compulsory from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m., one of the times with the most congestion.

The Traffic Regulations of the capital state that a controlled access road are primary avenues whose intersections are generally uneven, have central lanes and are separated by ridges. Andrés Lajous, Mexico City’s mobility secretary, tells Verne that it is sought that there be a fast speed lane in these roads and only cars with two or more occupants may join. “It is about giving people a push, rather than making a restriction and only in rush hours,” he says, by phone.

The official comments that the avenues where this type of lanes will be created have not yet been defined. “They will have no physical barriers,” he says. “The challenge of mobility is that many people move in the same direction at the same time,” he says.

The mobility manager in the capital indicates that technological elements such as surveillance cameras or traffic agents will be needed to verify that only cars with more than one passenger use these lanes. “If there are people who occupy these lanes, there will be penalties to be defined,” he says.

This measure has sparked much criticism among users. Bernardo Baranda, director for Latin America of the Institute for Transport and Development Policies (ITDP), tells Verne that the emissions reduction plan is positive in terms of improving public transport, but there are considerations regarding the shared travel scheme. “The international evidence is a little skeptical about its effectiveness over time for issues such as its implementation, monitoring and law enforcement, since many begin to apply tricks and eventually cease to be effective,” he says, via telephone.

High Occupancy Vehicle Lanes (HOVs) have been implemented in cities across the United States. The city of Texas, for example, indicates that this lane can only be used by vehicles occupied by at least two people. In the case of Mexico City, the possibility of three people is evaluated. “We are still in the process of defining various things about this plan,” says Lajous.

The traffic problem in the capital

Road congestion is the daily bread of the capital. According to the TomTom app traffic index, Mexico City is the busiest city in the continent in 2018 and two years ago it was the most congested in the world. According to the document, a person can spend twice as much time in the morning or in the afternoon, and the trips are one hour, on average.

For Baranda, it is necessary to implement policies to end congestion, but above all aimed at improving the public transport network. “We are at a critical moment since priority has been given to the use of private cars that, in addition to polluting, give few possibilities of mobility for the most vulnerable and generate congestion problems,” he says.

The plan presented by the Government focuses on reducing the use of private cars, which are the main source of air pollution, as well as the creation of other public transport systems, among other considerations.

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