This week, Mexico Infrastructure & Sustainability Review interviewed Maximiliano Zurita, Director General of CAF Mexico, who spoke about Mexico’s mobility problems and the company’s experience working on MTS.
Q: What is the root cause of Mexico’s mobility problems?
A: Mobility is a right and it must be understood as a way to facilitate movement while supplying the social, cultural and economic needs of the people. Currently, the country lacks an integral public policy for passenger transport. With such a policy in place, the country could plan and execute a strategy that outline and provide efficient mobility solutions. At the same time, these projects must be part of the whole. The projects created to this day have been developed in isolation and they sometimes do not interconnect, creating general solutions only for certain zones.
The selection of projects should be based on the quantity and type of passengers that will be transported and from there the most efficient and appropriate Metropolitan Transport System (MTS) should be chosen. Projects are planned according to the latest trends that may not necessarily add value to an area. This is why many routes become saturated quickly. MTS should be designed to complement each other and not compete among themselves.
The urban development codes do not contemplate urban transportation systems. When a city grows and is in need of an MTS, there is no space for it. This obligates cities to look for subterranean and elevated solutions, which make the project much more expensive than it needed to be.
Q: Who should design and plan public transportation systems in Mexican cities?
A: In metropolitan areas there should be one single transport authority, large cities across the world have implemented a unique metropolitan transport authority. In Mexico, no such government body exists. For instance, the Metropolitan Area of Guadalajara (MAG) consists of five municipalities with perhaps five different political parties that differ in the types of policies and projects that should be developed. There is no consistency or coordination. Mexico City alone has five different entities that participate in mass transportation: SEMOVI, STC, the Light Train, Metrobus and the Suburban Train. For example, the STC Metro System makes decisions almost autonomously even though SEMOVI is part of the board. The only private entity is the Suburban Train, which is concessioned by CAF. The others are public organisms but they are not coordinated. Mexico City has a population of 9 million but the Metropolitan Area of the Valley of Mexico (ZMVM) has 22 million. Most people come into Mexico City on a daily basis from the surrounding areas.
Q: How has CAF participated in Monterrey’s MTS, MetroRey?
A: CAF has participated for many years on MetroRey. We provided the first trains for Line 2 and were the first to provide air conditioning in the trains. We also won the project for Line 3, in an international tender. The financial scheme was structured so that the State of Nuevo Leon would not have to absorb the debt. Under that financial plan, Banobras had to grant the financial leasing of the trains. Hopefully by the end of 2018, we will be able to begin the trains for Line 2.
Q: Could the Mexico-Toluca Interurban Train also be operated and maintained by a private company?
A: We won the project for the Mexico-Toluca Interurban Train to do the track systems, the signaling system, trains and workshop equipment. We are also interested in the operation and maintenance of the system itself. SCT has decided to assign the concession of the project to FONADIN and at the same time contract the services of an operator. The Suburban Train was concessioned with private investment but the federal government decided that the Interurban Train should be a state-funded project since it could not guarantee the right of way.
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