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Rapid transit in Mexico City: Metro and BRT systems [free access]

September 1, 2016

Mexico City boasts of one of the most effective sustainable public transport systems in the world. The Mexico City Metro (Metro de la Ciudad de México) and the Metrobús bus rapid transit (BRT) have transformed the public transport infrastructure of the city.

 

Background

 

Mexico City is the capital of Mexico, and one of the most important financial centres in Latin America. It has a population of 8.9 million. The city contributes 15.8 per cent of the national gross domestic product (GDP). The Greater Mexico City region is the largest metropolitan area in Latin America and has a population of over 21.2 million.

 

In 2013, the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP), together with an international committee of transportation and development experts, awarded Mexico City the 2013 Sustainable Transport Award for its BRT system, cycling and walking infrastructure, parking programme, and revitalisation of public space.

 

Even though public transport accounts for most of the trips within the federal district, car ownership has been rising since 2010. The city’s unregulated and inefficient microbuses as well as increasing private vehicles have lead to high congestion and pollution levels. Therefore, in 2015, the government announced an investment of USD150 million to expand and modernise sustainable public transport systems in the city. The Mexico City Metro was given priority in the city’s 2015 capital budget.

 

Mexico City Metro

 

Mexico City Metro is the second largest metro system in the Americas (second only to the New York subway). It serves the metropolitan area of Mexico City, including some municipalities in Mexico State. Sistema de Transporte Colectivo (STC), a public agency fully owned by the government of Mexico, is the developer and operator.

 

Current network

 

The Mexico City Metro system currently comprises 12 lines, which together span 225.9 km and cover 195 stations. Table 1 provides details of the current network.

 

Table 1: Current network

Line

Route

Length (km)

Stations

Line 1

Pantitlán to Observatory

18.82

20

Line 2

Four Roads to Tasqueña

23.43

24

Line 3

Green Indians to University

23.61

21

Line 4

Santa Anita to Martin Carrera

10.75

10

Line 5

Polytechnic to Pantitlán

15.68

13

Line 6

The Rosary to Martin Carrera

13.95

11

Line 7

The Rosary to Barranca del Muerto

18.78

14

Line 8

Garibaldi to Constitución de 1917

20.08

19

Line 9

Pantitlán to Tacubaya

15.38

12

Line A

Pantitlán to La Paz

17.19

10

Line B

Aztec City to Buenavista

23.72

21

Line 12

Tláhuac to Mixcoac

24.50

20

Grand Total

- 

225.89

195

Source: STC

 

Line 12 is the latest addition to the metro network. It was developed by a consortium including Mexico’s construction major ICA, France-based Alstom and Mexico-based Cicsa. The line opened in October 2012 but service was suspended in March 2014 due to safety issues. It was rehabilitated and reopened for passenger service in November 2015.

 

Ridership

 

The average daily ridership is estimated to be 5 million passengers. The metro carried over 623 million passengers in 2015. Figure 1 gives the ridership trend.

 

Figure 1: Ridership trend (million passengers)

 feature1-gmt-2016_516_01

Source: STC

 

Rolling stock and technology 

 

The fleet comprises 390 trains, of which 292 have a nine-car configuration and the remaining have a six-car configuration. Of the total fleet, 282 trains are in regular passenger service and the remaining 108 trains are used for systematic maintenance, major maintenance, rehabilitation, special projects and reserve trains.

 

Rolling stock has been supplied by Alstom, Bombardier Transportation, Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles (CAF), and Constructora Nacional De Carros De Ferrocarril (CONCARRIL). Table 2 gives the distribution of rolling stock by line.

 

Table 2: Mexico City Metro rolling stock by line

Line

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

A

B

12

Total

Trains (no.)

49

40

50

12

25

17

33

30

29

30

39

36

390

Source: STC

 

For Line 2, advanced technology trains with asynchronous traction systems (AC motors) and automatic train control (ATC) signalling systems are used. Tracks are standard gauge (1,435 mm) and power is sourced from an overhead catenary pantograph (750V DC).

 

Fare system 

 

Single-trip magnetic-stripe paper tickets and prepaid contactless smartcards are used for fare collection. About 60 per cent of the passengers use the single-trip tickets. The Federal District Card (Tarjeta del Distrito Federal) is a contactless smartcard introduced in October 2012. It can be used on the metro, city buses and light-rail transit.

 

In December 2013, the fare increased from MXN3 to MXN5 per trip, after many years of no increase. The additional revenue has been earmarked for improving the system. As of February 2016, STC has set up a Master Metro Trust Fund, which is funded by the additional fare revenue and currently has a capital of MXN2.5 billion.

 

Extensions/ Capital projects 

 

STC has announced plans for network expansion, system improvement and rolling stock acquisition. Table 3 gives details of STC’s network expansion plans.

 

Table 3: STC’s network expansion plans

Project

Route

Length (km)

Stations (no)

Status

Line 12 extension

Mixcoac to the Observatory station

4.0

1

In September 2015, SCT awarded the contract for supervising Phase I of the extension to the consortium of Mexico-based Grupo Promotor Aries (GPA) and Desarrollo, Tecnologico y Planeacion (DTP Consultores). In July 2015, SCT selected a consortium comprising Promotora y Desarrolladora Mexicana (PDM), its subsidiary Desarrollo de Terracerias and Spain-based Proacon, to construct the extension. The Secretariat of Public Works and Services in Mexico City (SOBSE) will invest MXN8 billion for the extension. Construction is scheduled to begin in April 2016 and be completed by September 2017.

Line 4 extension

Martin Carrera to Ecatepec municipality

NA

20

Proposed in 2014. Under planning

Line 9 extension

Tacubaya to Observatory

NA

1

Under planning

Line A extension

La Paz to the municipality of Chalco

13.2

6

In March 2016, Mexico’s Ministry of Finance allocated MXN200 million to conduct financial and technical studies for the extension.

Note: NA – not available

Source: STC, Global Mass Transit Research

 

Table 4 provides details of rolling stock acquisition and network refurbishment plans.

 

Table 4: STC’s upcoming rolling stock and refurbishment projects

Project

Details

Rolling stock acquisition

-   In December 2015, STC announced plans to acquire 60 new trains by 2020. Of these, 15 will be deployed on the Line A extension; 15 on Line 1; 14 on Line B; 12 on the Line 12 extension; and 4 on the Line 9 extension.

-   Four trains will be procured for Line B at a cost of MXN7.2 billion.

Refurbishment

-   STC announced plans to invest MXN2 billion to conduct refurbishment works during 2016-19. France-based Alstom will increase the number of cars per train from six to nine on all lines, except on Line 12, where the trains will be extended to seven cars. It will overhaul 45 train sets operating on Line 2 as well as improve traction and braking systems on 85 train sets.

-   STC will repair 85 per cent of the current fleet during 2016-18. It has set a budget of MXN17 billion for 2016 for this work.

-   STC earmarked an investment of MXN5 billion for the repair of 41 escalators.

Source: STC, Global Mass Transit Research

 

Recent developments

 

In August 2016, STC awarded CAF México a EUR164-million contract to supply 10 pneumatic-tyre trains for Line 1 of the Mexico City Metro. This contract is part of the vehicle and infrastructure refurbishment programme implemented for the metro system. The first units are scheduled to be delivered in the first half of 2018.

 

In July 2016, Mexico City invited bids from consultants to supervise and co-ordinate metro Line 12’s underground extension from August 2016 onwards. The scope of works includes monitoring and controlling costs, allocation of resources and quality control.

 

In June 2016, STC invested MXN140 million for refurbishing four trains, which are currently operating on Line 1. It also launched a tender to procure 10 rubber-tyred trains for Line 1 at an investment of MXN4 billion; and plans to seek a MXN20-billion loan to fund the refurbishment of 323 railcars. The Mexico City capital budget for FY2015 had prioritised purchase of 45 new trains for Line 1; however, due to lack of funds, only 10 trains are to be acquired in 2016. The new trains will increase capacity on Line 1 by 25 per cent.

 

In March 2016, the following developments were recorded:

 

In February 2016, STC announced plans to seek a loan of MXN22 billion for train maintenance and infrastructure improvements.

 

In January 2016, STC launched a three-year programme to upgrade 85 per cent of the metro fleet with the assistance from Alstom.

 

Metrobús

 

Mexico’s first BRT system, Metrobús, which was launched in 2005, has been a trendsetter for public transport projects in the country. The system was the first of its kind in Mexico and led to the development of several other BRT projects in the country.

 

Current network

 

The system currently consists of six lines, which together span around 125 km and covers 190 stations (including 17 terminals). Table 5 gives details of the current BRT network.

 

Table 5: Current BRT network

Line

Route

Length (km)

Stations

Line 1

El Caminero to Indios Verdes

30

46

Line 2

Tepalcates to Tacubaya

20

36

Line 3

Tenayuca to Etiopia

17

33

Line 4

Buenavista to San Lazaro (and further to Terminals 1 and 2 of Mexico City International Airport)

28

20

Line 5

Rio de los Remedios to San Lazaro

10

18

Line 6

El Rosario to Villa de Aragon

20

37

Grand Total

- 

125

190

Source: Metrobús

 

Key players

 

The system operates under an innovative arrangement that decentralises responsibilities for operations and regulation. Table 6 lists the key players involved in project implementation.

 

Table 6: Key players involved in the Metrobús BRT project

Player

Responsibilities

SETRAVI, Federal District government transport and highway department

Planning, regulation and control

Corredor Insurgentes SA de CV (CISA) [private] and Red de Transporte de Pasajeros del Distrito Federal (RTP) [public]

Management of Metrobús vehicle fleet

Trust Fund

Management, investment and distribution of collected money, fare collection

ASK based in Sophia Antipolis

Supply of contactless smart cards, readers and couplers

Source: Global Mass Transit Research

 

Rolling stock

 

The system has deployed 568 buses on the six lines. Of these, 449 are articulated, 53 are bi-articulated, 57 are diesel buses, and the remaining nine are hybrid buses. Figures 2 and 3 indicate the distribution of buses by line and type respectively.

 

Figure 2: Bus fleet by line

feature-img2_560

Source: Metrobús

 

Figure 3: Distribution of buses by type

feature-img3_540

Source: Metrobús

 

Extensions/ Capital projects 

 

New Line 7: The Metrobús project involves the development of a new 15-km long BRT corridor along Paseo de la Reforma connecting Indios Verdes and Periférico. It will cover 29 passenger stations and two terminals. Line 7 will also have a complementary route served by shuttle buses up to Santa Fe. A fleet of 80 Enviro500 double-decker buses is planned to be deployed to replace the existing 180 older buses currently servicing the route. The tenders are expected to be floated by September 2016 and service is expected to begin in October 2017. On June 21, 2016, the Government of Mexico City unveiled the Study of Public Passenger Transportation Corridor Reform, under which aspects of Line 7 are detailed.

 

Line 5 extension: The existing line will be extended to Glorieta de Vaqueritos. The project cost of MXN0.8 million is to be borne by the federal district government. Additional 70 buses will be deployed on the route to double the existing capacity. Service is expected to start in October 2017.

 

Conclusion

 

Recurrent environmental problems continue to plague the city. This has compelled the government to introduce strict measures to prohibit the use of private vehicles. Despite the fact that public transportation was offered for free, public satisfaction has been low. The performance of the metro system has suffered due to lack of investment. The recent initiatives by the government are favourable and expected to improve infrastructure and operations. The BRT system has been well received and has led to the development of other BRT systems such as the Mexibús in the state of Mexico.

 

(1 MXN [Mexican Peso] = 0.05 USD; 1 EUR [Euro] = 1.13 USD)