New mobility law in Mexico City to catalyze safe, sustainable transport
In the last decade, Mexico City has made considerable strides in improving sustainable mobility options for its residents, inaugurating the Metrobús bus rapid transit (BRT) system, building a culture of sustainable active transport, and working to reverse its history of urban sprawl. Still, there is progress to be made, and city leaders have ambitious plans to turn Mexico City into an example of innovation in people-oriented, sustainable mobility.
As part of this effort, the Legislative Assembly of the Federal District – the state of Mexico City – announced the creation of a new law aimed at improving quality of life and expanding urban mobility through sustainable transport. The law was passed by the Legislative Assembly in April 2014, and entered into official documents this month. The law establishes a Mobility Management Center that oversees all public transport operations and includes operational integration between transport departments, integrated management of resources, and more effective road planning. These changes tap the potential for well planned and managed transport systems to create a shift towards more people-oriented cities.
How to ensure the “right to mobility”
First and foremost, the Mobility Law recognizes mobility as a fundamental right. The language of the law states:
“Mobility is the right of each individual and of the society to move freely and access goods through the different modes recognized in this law.”
To meet this ambitious promise, Mexico City’s leaders are taking a holistic approach to changing the city’s mobility systems, incorporating principles of urban resilience, inclusive governance, and active transport.
Protecting pedestrians and bicyclists
As part of guaranteeing all citizens the right to mobility, the law highlights the need to protect the most vulnerable road users. This approach means a significant but worthwhile change in transport planning, as previous policies focused primarily on car users. Mexico City has already made investments in active transport, bicycling, and walking, evidenced by the growth of it’s ECOBICI public bike-share system, which will grow to 20 million users by the end of 2014. The new law specifically places pedestrians at the top of the mobility “hierarchy,” followed by cyclists, to create a system focused on moving people instead of vehicles.
Consolidating operations for social inclusion
Another important change is the consolidation of multiple transport operators within the city, eliminating the “one-man, one-bus” operating scheme. In past years, operators of different bus, metro, or BRT systems were fragmented and did not communicate with one another, preventing users from efficiently transferring from one system to another to reach their destinations.
The new law establishes the groundwork for the creation of a regulatory body for mass transit corridors and transportation operators, bringing more cohesion to overall transport systems in the city. This regulatory body, to be up and running by January 2015, will also be charged with protecting citizens’ rights to high-quality public transport and helping public transport service to become more efficient, safe, and inclusive. It will also establish and enforces standards for the quality, safety, and timeliness of transport services.
Creating a more resilient transport system
Finally, the law also places an emphasis on resilience to extreme weather events, holding that mobility systems must be able to respond quickly, efficiently, and at little or no cost to the citizen in the event of a disruption. In recent years, climate change has increased the risk for floods and mudslides in Mexico City, threatening damage to infrastructure, disrupting residents’ lives, and causing economic losses. A more resilient mobility system will help Mexico City respond to these challenges, while emphasizing public and non-motorized transport will also reduce its contribution to climate change by lowering greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
Mobility advocates welcome new law
According to Mexico City Transportation and Roads Secretary Rufino H. Leon, the mobility law is a direct response to citizen demand for a new mobility paradigm in the city. Specifically, many have called for legal protection and guarantee of the right to move freely about the city. The final law is a product of dialogue, debate and consensus among the different government agencies, transport operators, and citizen voices involved.
"With the approval of this law, there will soon be profound changes in Mexico City’s transport system and steps will be taken to create mobility that meets the city’s needs." – Mexico City Transportation and Roads Secretary Rufino H. León
EMBARQ Mexico contributed to the development of the law by bringing together the different actors within the Ministry of Transport and Roadways and other stakeholders. Through a series of four workshops coupled with an in-depth legal study, the teams focused on drafting a law that would be responsive to the needs of citizens, and also defined priorities among different sectors to come to a consensus. Specifically, EMBARQ Mexico’s team of transport experts was influential in developing plans for the new regulatory body, promoting the integration of different transport systems, and emphasizing traffic safety.
In the end, the new law emphasizes that cities must be oriented around people – not cars – and that safe, sustainable public transport can be a powerful tool for improving quality of life for urban residents.