LSR MEXICO REPORT

CDMX Metro abandonment: in 20 years, only one line and many failures

In 2000, the governments' tendency to build or inaugurate a Metro line was broken

  • MARCO ANTONIO JIMENEZ
  • 12/01/2021
  • 19:12 hrs
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CDMX Metro abandonment: in 20 years, only one line and many failures
Before the covid-19 pandemic, it transported around 5.5 million people a day. (Cuartoscuro)

It is the most important public transportation system in Mexico City. Before the covid-19 pandemic, it transported around 5.5 million people a day. During the last 23 years, leftist governments have led the Mexican capital and only two administrations have built or inaugurated Metro lines.

In 1999, Rosario Robles replaced Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas as head of government after the PRD founder requested a license to seek his third presidential candidacy. Together with then-president Ernesto Zedillo, they inaugurated line B of the Metro, from Ciudad Azteca to Buenavista.

THE SECOND FLOOR

With Andrés Manuel López Obrador's arrival as head of government of the then Federal District - now Mexico City - in 2000, the governments' tendency to build or inaugurate a Metro line was broken. On the other hand, under the then PRD government, they opted for a second floor that endorsed the reign of the car in Mexico City.

Instead of one more Metro line, it opted to replicate Bogotá's Transmilenio System, the Bus Rapid Transit, and the first Metrobús line was inaugurated in 2005. Each unit had a capacity for less than 200 passengers; a few years later, the system was saturated. From time to time, the hydraulic floor through which the buses pass had to be replaced and some have already concluded their useful life. In the long run, it is more expensive.

THE GOLDEN LINE

Under Marcelo Ebrard administration, building a new Metro line, the 12, was taken up. However, there are neither 10 nor 11. It was done on a route from Mixcoac to Tláhuac, which was unprecedented since it reached delegations, now mayors, still rural of the capital.

Baptized as the Golden Line, inaugurated at the end of Ebrard's administration, it was costly. It was plagued with irregularities, with complaints from "ejidatarios" (a holder of a share in common lands) who assured they were not paid a fair price for their land through which the transport passes.

A few weeks after it was inaugurated, 11 stations had to be closed, and work began to correct the tracks, as it turns out that a curve was too steep and the tracks did not correspond to the trains' size, among other faults.

Because more than half of the Line was not working, trucks from the Passenger Transport Network (RTP) entered the room. Still, with fewer seats than a train, the units were overcrowded, especially during the mornings. Despite the scandal of irregularities, which had millionaire costs, there were few sanctions against the officials responsible for constructing the Line.

HOPING FOR EXPANSION

The next administration, headed by Miguel Ángel Mancera, was dedicated to repairing line 12 and starting the expansion works from Mixcoac to Observatorio, which have yet to be completed, as well as the development of line 9, from Tacubaya to Observatorio.

The Mancerista administration, remembered for its rate increase from 3 to 5 pesos at the end of 2013, also did not create a new Metro line. Its administration will be remembered for the proliferation of wagon drivers, cell phone thieves, and sexual harassers. To counteract the latter's attacks, the then president of the capital offered the alternative of giving women a whistle to defend themselves, and on which it is not clear how much was spent or its usefulness. There are no known cases where a sex offender was caught thanks to the gadget.

During the administration, videos of waterfalls inside the Metro stations will also be remembered after the summer rains that year after year fall on the capital.

THERE WILL BE NO NEW LINE WITH SHEINBAUM

The arrival of the government of Claudia Sheinbaum did not bring under its arm a project for a new Metro line either. The former head of the Tlalpan delegation - under whose management as Secretary of the Environment, during the López Obrador government. The decision made to build the Metrobús - now as the capital's president has the cable bus as a transport bet, will connect people from the highlands of Cuautepec Iztapalapa, and the massive impact will be limited.

Another bet is the elevated tram from Santa Marta to Constitución, which will benefit more people, although without the dimension that a new Metro line would have.

However, updating metro lines such as 1, the oldest, with the largest number of users and the most rickety, has been set.

On January 9, there was a fire in the Delicias 67 facilities. The control center was damaged, and lines 1 to 6 were left out of operation, which had never happened. It is not known when they will operate again.

COMPLAIN ABOUT PREVIOUS ADMINISTRATIONS

Florencia Serranía, current director of the Metro Collective Transport System, accused in 2019 of corruption and robbery of the previous administrations and the neglect of the STC, which causes slowness and overcrowding.

However, during the second administration of Serranía - who had already headed the subway during the administration of Andrés Manuel López Obrador at the head of Mexico City - a train crash was recorded at the Tacubaya station, last year. On January 9, the Buen Tono electrical substation in Delicias 67 caught fire, suspending service on six lines indefinitely, something unprecedented in the STC's 51-year history.

But in other administrations, they have also turned back to justify the Metro's carelessness. At the beginning of his government, Mancera appointed Joel Ortega, the Ministry of Public Security's former head, remembered for his sinister role in the News Divine tragedy. During his mandate, the ticket price increased, under the promise that it would improve the service.

Then he removed it and put in his place legislator, Jorge Gaviño, who recognized the Metro's carelessness, in a speech on August 16, 2017, at the Delicias 67 headquarters, in the Historic Downtown.

Being the cornerstone Metro in the metropolis, for many years, it has lacked the necessary budget for its adequate maintenance and operation

In that speech, Gaviño affirmed that the STC would need 30 billion pesos to meet the lag of many years and a sustained budget of 20 billion pesos a year.

He referred to line 12, built by the Ebrard government. Currently, the Secretary of Foreign Relations and the then director of the Metro said that the errors would be permanent.

Line 12 represents a special problem that we are addressing, with a high maintenance cost. Every year we are going to have to invest, just for the maintenance of fixed installations and roads, approximately 200 million pesos

WITH WHAT YOU HAVE

Víctor Alvarado, Mobility Manager of the organization El Poder del Consumidor, recalled that major work was planned on Metro Line 1 this year, which runs from Pantitlán to Observatorio.

"The Metro has two brains. One is the PSC1, in charge of operating lines 1 to 7; if this brain has a fault, it screws up the lines linked to this old brain, which is like from El Santo's movies, with transistors. The major surgery was for a renewal issue. During this year, Line 1 would be closed for 3 to 6 months to do all the maintenance of the technological part, of the infrastructure so that it could provide a better service".

Asked whether the current administration of the Metro Collective Transport System, headed by Florencia Serranía, who had already held the López Obrador administration position, can blame other administrations for the failures it has had, Alvarado said no. It doesn't mean that the previous ones have done better.

"It is the negligence accumulated of different administrations. At least this one, with this project under reserve, is taking the corresponding actions. What would not be valid is for this administration to say that it is due to other administrations, which is already known; however, how do you solve it, and now two years have passed, and they have been in charge of systematizing it. The question is to see if it is prepared for a problem of this magnitude, " he said.

When asked if he sees the Metro abandoned, the answer was no.

"It sustains itself with what it has, rather than being abandoned," he concluded.

Traducción: Valentina K. Yanes