Transportation in Mexico City reveals the best and worst of urbanism. On the one hand, the region’s vast population creates enough demand to sustain an incredible range of modal choices—a subway, a light rail, a bus rapid transit system, trolley-buses, a suburban rail, more than 30,000 microbuses, private vehicles—on which one can traverse most any part of the city for a pittance (subway tickets go for the equivalent of 21 cents!).
This modal redundancy also hints at the burden of urbanism; each of these systems is overburdened, making travel a constant struggle against fellow residents. In fact, according to the IBM Commuter Pain survey, residents of the city on average face the most emotionally and economically exacting commutes globally. In Mexico City, traffic has measurable repercussions; one account estimates that air pollution in the city, to which transport contributes significantly, is responsible for 4,000 premature deaths and 2.5 million lost work days annually. The need for transit-oriented development—comprehensive urban planning and policymaking framed around a community’s transportation needs—is especially visible in Mexico City, not to mention other burgeoning cities across Mexico that would otherwise take form around vehicle ownership.