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Mexico City is making progress on cleaning up dirty transportation – now the whole country needs to follow suit

Mexico City’s reputation for traffic congestion and air pollution is, unfortunately, less than positive: sounds of angry car horns, images of gridlock and the smell of exhaust all come to mind. Yet when I visited the city last week, efforts to clean up the city’s transportation sector were evident everywhere I looked, from buses and bicycles to parking meters and pedestrians. As I talked to Mexican colleagues, I learned that other cities are also making similar progress. Now it’s time for the federal government to follow their lead by adopting regulations to make all of Mexico’s fuels and vehicles cleaner and more efficient.

I shouldn’t have been surprised by the urban mobility improvements in Mexico City, as in January the city won the Sustainable Transport Award from the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP) and the World Resources Institute Center for Sustainable Transport (CTS EMBARQ). The city’s new bus rapid transit (BRT) system called Metrobús complements the underground Metro to carry thousands of people around the city every day. The public bike sharing program “Ecobici” has been a major success so far, and it plans to expand significantly over the coming year. New parking meters in the Polanco neighborhood are reducing local traffic back-ups, increasing the flow of customers to nearby businesses and raising capital for the neighborhood to reinvest in its streets and sidewalks. And crosswalks are becoming the official domain of pedestrians (see photo below).


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