New initiative in Mexico City engages private companies to deliver sustainable mobility options
In recent decades, Mexican cities have experienced troubling increases in air pollution, congestion, and traffic crashes. For metropolitan areas like Santa Fe and Polanco in Mexico City, where residents face long distances between their homes and places of employment, work-related travel accounts for a large share of these traffic challenges.
EMBARQ Mexico recently launched the OPTIMO initiative to address Mexico City’s unsustainable and unsafe dependency on private vehicles. Launched on Mexico’s national Environmental Education Day—which this year had the slogan “share your car, reduce pollution”—the initiative explores ways to engage private enterprises to support sustainable mobility options, reducing their own operational costs and enhancing their employees’ well-being. Specifically, OPTIMO encourages alternatives to single-occupancy car use by adopting new transport demand management (TDM) strategies.
Extreme congestion in Mexico City’s crowded business district
Forthcoming research by EMBARQ Mexico indicates that residents of the Santa Fe area of Mexico City make about 1.2 million trips per day because of low housing supply in the city's business core. Although private vehicles account for only 26 percent of trips, these 410,000 vehicles have to travel approximately 75 minutes per work-related trip. The OPTIMO initiative estimates that implementing a shared-mobility system like carpooling could remove 77,700 cars from the road.
At just 3.59 square miles, Santa Fe is only one small district of Mexico City, and yet it suffers from low average driving speeds of 17 km per hour (11 miles per hour) due to intense traffic congestion. The result is that cars are generating 233 percent more air pollution than they would be at normal 50 km per hour (31 miles per hour) speeds.
All of this is very costly to drivers. Consuming about 1,470 liters of gasoline, the average single car user spends up to MXP$ 22,500 (US$ 1,521) on gasoline and maintenance per year, according to forthcoming EMBARQ Mexico research. In total, commuters lose approximately 26 days a year driving long distances through traffic.
Pilot program works with companies to introduce commuting alternatives
So far, EMBARQ Mexico has collaborated with three companies through the OPTIMO initiative to develop, implement, and monitor programs like ride-sharing to enhance sustainable mobility. As OPTIMO continues to engage more companies and private organizations, employees will benefit from reduced travel time and expenses, giving them time back in their lives and benefitting their companies’ bottom lines. In turn, the city will benefit from reduced congestion, air pollution, and traffic crashes.