Are scooters in Mexico City the solution to mobility? Or a problem


Mobility in Mexico is undoubtedly one of the biggest problems that affect the daily life of consumers. According to the Urban Mobility Index (IMU) prepared by the Mexican Institute for Competitiveness (IMCO), only three cities in Mexico have adequate transportation to meet the needs of its population: Valley of Mexico, Saltillo, and Guadalajara.

 The big problem lies in the public transport offer to which, up to now, citizens have access. Photo: Pexels by  Denniz Futalan
The big problem lies in the public transport offer to which, up to now, citizens have access. Photo: Pexels by Denniz Futalan

In the country more than 50 million people (about 37.26 percent of the population) moves on public transport; nevertheless, this item has lagged behind in the distribution of the government budget allocated to mobility matters.

In this regard, it is worth mentioning that 80% of the budget for mobility in paving and road infrastructure was allocated during 2015; while only 6 percent was for public transport, 5 percent for pedestrian equipment, 7 percent for public spaces and 1 percent for cyclists.

Sharing economy solves the problem or not

The vacuum that these figures show, tries to be covered by alternative forms of transport that open the door an increasing number of private firms that make available to citizens mobility options that work thanks to models of sharing economy (collaborative economy).

The aforementioned source states that, for example, in Mexico City, although there is a perception of road congestion, the reality is that mobility problems are associated with 22 percent of trips made in private vehicles. The rest of the trips are made by public transport, walking or using private alternative services of shared transport.

Beyond Uber

With the passing of time and before consumers who either for particular lifestyles or comfort demand better ways to transport themselves (measures both in time and savings for their pockets), this last option has experienced a phenomenon of diversification that is easy to recognize when walking through some of the busiest areas of the country.

In principle, Uber was the brand that by definition was associated with these alternative travel options. Now, space is shared not only by various companies dedicated to renting bicycles or motorcycles; the last turn of this market is in electric scooters.

In Mexico City, companies such as Bird, Grin or Lime have invaded the streets with their electric "devil skates" that for an unlocking fee and a payment per minute of travel allow their users to reach their destination in a short time - compared to a trip by car or public transport- and with minimal effort.

With unlocking fees ranging from 20 to 10 pesos and travel fees ranging between 2 and 3 pesos per minute, a route of 30 minutes implies payment for the consumer between 69 and 100 pesos depending on the service contracted.

Although for some people the cost may seem high, the truth is that the growth of these companies in the country show that the consumer is willing to pay for forms of transport that besides being friendly to the environment, promise savings in terms of time and effort.

Private benefit vs. public benefit

Beyond this tendency dictated by the users of the aforementioned services, what remains in question is the real benefit that these forms of a collaborative economy will ultimately have in terms of mobility and benefit for the bulk of the population.

As well as they have shown that they could be a way to solve mobility problems, it is also true that the logistics of operation of these companies work in a similar way to that of a traveling post.

That is, scooters are left at undefined points in different perimeters throughout large cities. They do not pay any type of tax or charge for parking; they are simply left by users who block their use from an app.

A scooter can spend days in a place without being lifted, which does not generate any type of fine or penalty and, on the other hand, affects the mobility of the pedestrian as well as the urban landscape.

The rules of the game are not clear

The regulation around this means of transport is one of the big cracks that must be covered, both to guarantee the safety of citizens and to mold a new system of income generation that - in the same way, that happened with Uber - promises a lot, but it is unclear in the true benefit it gives to society in general.

To exemplify, it is enough to mention the "trade" of "scooter collector" that arose around this business. A collector of this nature is engaged, as the name says, to collect and recharge electric scooters in your home, so companies like Grin, Lime or Bird pay on average 30 to 45 pesos per loaded vehicle.

The benefit can be realized in 9 thousand 500 pesos when working with 9 loader Bird company, for example. This means that a person who charges 40 scooters for five days a week, can obtain income close to 36 thousand pesos per month, which is 1,153 percent more than the minimum monthly salary in 2019.

The original text of this article was published by the Merca 2.0 at the following address:

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