Only 6% of federal funds are invested in public transport, although half of the trips are made in this way

Throughout the country about 50 million Mexicans move on public transport. But of the federal funds dedicated to mobility in 2015, only 6% went to this, another 5% to infrastructure for the pedestrian, 7% for public space and 1% for cycling infrastructure. The remaining 80% was for paving and infrastructure for the car (33% and 47% respectively).

The private car infrastructure is dedicated up to 47% of the funds, although it only represents 21% of the trips and only 22.3% of the population uses it.
The private car infrastructure is dedicated up to 47% of the funds, although it only represents 21% of the trips and only 22.3% of the population uses it.

This is despite the fact that the last Source-Destination Survey (EOD) of the Metropolitan Zone of the Valley of Mexico, published in 2017, documents that only 21% of daily trips are made by private car and 46% by public transport.

This disparity in spending dedicated to mobility is replicated in many other Mexican cities. This is indicated by the Urban Mobility Index (IMU), presented on Tuesday by the Mexican Institute for Competitiveness (IMCO). On average, in the 20 metropolises analyzed in the study (the most populated in the country), only 2.1% of federal funds were invested in public transport.

The investment, says Oscar Ruiz, IMCO data scientist, should be on par with how the population moves. Following the mobility scheme that most cities in the country have, focused on facilitating car transfers to the detriment of other more efficient modes of transport, means condemning the vast majority of the population to inefficient mobility that not only generates decrease in the quality of life of people, but also has serious economic repercussions for the loss of productivity and for the flight of talent.

The IMCO has determined that each year 33 billion pesos are lost in productivity only in the CDMX due to the lack of more efficient transfers. Mexican cities have not prioritized the mobility of people, they have prioritized the flow of automobiles and that generates inefficiency, says Ruiz. "At 9 in the morning, on a weekday, to travel by car 9 kilometers in Mexico City, 1 hour 5 minutes is invested when it should be 26 minutes".

The Valley of Mexico occupies the position number 1, among the 20 cities analyzed in the IMU in terms of efficiency of public spending on mobility. The region has an adequate level of competitiveness by allocating 36% of its budget to public transport, while the average allocates 2%, and Acapulco, which is at the bottom of the table, 0%.

The Valley of Mexico also stands out as the city with the highest score in the air quality management index. However, its greatest weakness lies in the issue of transparency, as it has the lowest score in the Municipal Budget Information Index of the 20 cities in the sample.

That is why in the IMU barely reaches to be classified among those of adequate level of competitiveness, along with Morelia and Mérida. No city in the country reaches a high level of performance. Of the 20 cities, 15 cities did not invest federal budget in 2015 in public transport, although on average, 38% of its inhabitants used this means of transport, says Fátima Masse, Project Coordinator of IMCO.

Those that have a high average competitiveness in government efficiency and transparency in mobile spending are: Queretaro, Saltillo, Veracruz, Cancun, Tijuana, Guadalajara, Toluca, Aguascalientes and Cuernavaca.

While in low average competitiveness are Puebla-Tlaxcala, León, Chihuahua and Tampico-Pánuco. Those classified at the end, among the 20, with low level are: Villahermosa, Monterrey, San Luis Potosí-Soledad and Acapulco.

On the existence of a regulatory framework that promotes adequate planning in terms of mobility, and its implementation, Masse points out that it is necessary to allow innovation and the emergence of new transport options managed by information technologies.

"In this sense it is important to first deregulate before prohibiting them, allowing them to operate, analyzing how they work, generating information based on evidence and then regulate," he suggests. This in reference to options such as electric skates.

Regarding private taxis that use mobile applications, as in the case of Uber, the IMCO study states that of the 20 cities evaluated in the IMU, only seven explicitly consider in their transport or mobility laws the system operated through mobile applications and only three list the requirements for these platforms to work and register with the state government.

The local legislatures - the IMCO study says - are failing in their obligation to generate a normative framework that specifies the rights and obligations of the platforms that provide this type of transport and to make explicit the conditions that must be met by the members of the platform .

In November 2017, Uber added to the list of cities where it operates in La Paz, Guasave, Nogales, Guaymas, San Luis Río Colorado and Navojoa; while in Mexico City and other states the offer of this type of service was also deployed in applications such as Avant, EasyTaxi, Yaxy and Cabify.

This shows that transport services operated through mobile applications, at least in the short or medium term, will not disappear, but will expand their reach, and therefore, it is necessary to guarantee their proper functioning in any state and at any time through a legal framework that gives certainty to all the agents involved.

In this regulation sub-index, the Valley of Mexico also occupies the number 1 position, since most of its municipalities have a mobility law. The CDMX, the State of Mexico, Jalisco and Coahuila also stand out for having a regulation in this sense. Acapulco is at the bottom of the list for lacking it.

The original text of this article was published by the Animal Politico at the following address: