Friday, October 23, 2009

Mexico City's New Metrobus System

Mexico City is an endlessly fascinating place to explore, but getting around one of the world’s largest metropolises can be exhausting and frustrating to say the least. I usually take the speedy Metro (subway) whenever I can. If it gets overcrowded, as it often does, I can always surface for air and hail a taxi. However, on a recent trip to La Capital, I also rode the Metrobus, a new rapid transit system running north-south along the entire length of Avenida Insurgentes, which is said to be the longest urban avenue in the world.

The bright red, serpent-like, articulated Metrobuses have their own dedicated lanes, and they stop at 45 modern stations on Avenida Insurgentes. I found the buses to be quite comfortable. Most of the time, I was able to find a seat right away or after standing for a stop two, not bad in a city with millions of potential passengers. The fare is paid electronically with a rechargeable “smartcard,” and at five pesos (less than 50 cents) per ride, it’s a real bargain.

The Metrobus system also qualifies as sustainable, relatively green public transportation. It has replaced hundreds of conventional buses and reportedly has reduced annual carbon dioxide emissions by more than 35,000 tons. Another environmentally friendly feature is that cyclists are allowed to bring their bikes on board during non-peak hours.

In early 2009, a newly completed second Metrobus line with 36 stations started operating east-west along Eje 4 Sur. I haven’t traveled this route yet, but I’m looking forward to using it to explore more of "El Monstro" (The Monster), as the locals sometimes call their hometown.

For more information and route maps, visit the Metrobus (in Spanish) website.

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Mexico City Landmarks - Images by John Mitchell


spencerg2001 said...

Thanks for posting this. Very interesting. It sounds like a great compromise between light rain and regular buses. We could use something like this in my home town Hamilton Canada. We are currently discussing light rail but I don't think it will ever happen because of the cost of the infrastructure involved. This sounds better.

John Mitchell said...

Thanks for your comment. This type of rapid transit system is also used in other parts of Latin America. I was in Quito, Ecuador, a few years ago, and they had a similar setup. It worked well there as well. However, a city needs to have wide boulevards -- as many Latin American cities do -- for the dedicated lanes in order to build this type of system.