Getting about

January 28th, 2005

Life in the High Lane

A dearth of road signs on Mexico City’s ring road directing drivers to the new second deck has itself resulted in traffic build-ups.

The confusion appears to confirm the view of critics that the segundo piso project (link in Spanish) had been completed with undue haste to help the presidential ambitions of the city’s mayor, Andrés Manuel López Obrador.

Welders worked through Friday night to finish the guardrails on the new section of the periferico in time for last Saturday’s inauguration.

El Universal reported that a motorist ignoring road closures hit construction workers, killing one man.

Whether the double-decker highway will alleviate congestion or pollution is questionable.

One sceptic columnist in the FT was keen to stress that the view for stationary motorists is much better from the second level.

Bus Rapid Transit

Thankfully, the city has now moved on to a more promising pilot project for a “metro-bus”, which will operate in its own bus lanes in the main avenues.

Furthermore, while the car flyovers will only serve the 20 per cent of Mexico City residents who use private cars, the BRT system will reduce over-crowding on three metro lines and improve public transport in areas underserved by the existing metro system.

Filed in Getting about, Mexico City

September 24th, 2004

Behind the wheel

Guadalajara - Colima cuota / toll

Open road
Originally uploaded by Greenery

“For once”, Melanie Bateman tells me, “I was taking it easy being the passenger…”. This photo was taken on Monday, descending the Guadalajara to Colima toll road beyond Ciudad Guzman, Jalisco.

The main roads in Mexico are being upgraded all the time – the fact that I drove 24,716km through 17 Mexican states without ever suffering the indignity of a puncture is testament to this fact.

However, they do vary a bit: very good in Querétaro and Yucatán for example, poor in Guanajuato and Veracruz.

Toll roads are generally in excellent condition but are considered by many to be the among the most expensive in the world.

These “cuota” highways were planned alongside or near existing free roads (which often make an interesting detour), as Mexican law requires that there be a free, parallel alternative to each toll highway.

Most traffic (especially ‘muffler-less’ trucks) uses the congested, limited “libre” or free federal roads, dissuaded by the high tolls, placing less emphasis on timesaving than the toll roads’ engineers and developers had anticipated.

Filed in Getting about, Michoacán & Western Mexico

September 10th, 2004

Mexico City Metro

Mexico City Metro

Metro de mi ciudad
Originally uploaded by juanrene

It’s still only $2.00 pesos for a metro ticket.

Filed in Getting about, Mexico City

May 7th, 2003

Tope-landia

Chevy registrationWe’ve ridden one last tope (speed bump) and swerved to avoid a final bache (pothole)… our marathon journey through seventeen Mexican states has come to an end after logging 24,716km (15,448 miles) driving on the ‘wrong’ side of the road.

All told, we pumped £731-worth of petrol into the tank of our economical Chevy, which, averaging out the exchange rate over the entire 8-month trip, works out at just under £3 per each 100km travelled (£4.73 per 100 miles in ‘old money’).

For comparison, this is roughly half what it would cost to travel a similar distance around the coastline of the British Isles (more than once…); roughly the equivalent of London to Sydney and half way back again.

No punctures.

No accidents.

Not that the journey was without incident mind you – I’ll be writing something about our experiences very soon: the good, the bad and the very ugly (aka Mexico City traffic cops).

Filed in Getting about