The largest Spanish-speaking capital in the world has returned to the ring. Mobility in Mexico City has already reached almost 80% of its usual traffic, according to data from the local government and Google Community Mobility Project, in the middle of a pandemic that has claimed the lives of more than 64,000 people in the country, of which about 20,000 correspond to the Valley of Mexico. In the city where almost nine million people live but more than 20 live together, maintaining a distance of one and a half meters between person and person – as the health authorities have recommended – is almost a chimera.
In some places, scenes like that of thousands of people crowded at the Pantitlán station, a must for those seeking to get to the capital by metro from the east of the State of Mexico. Only in this station are transported daily, on average, about 400,000 people, according to the latest data from the Ministry of Mobility. The same happens in the Historic Center, one of the most visited places in the world, where more than two million live together daily, according to Unesco.
Mobility in Mexico City already reaches 78% of normal traffic compared to the reference period prior to the declaration of the pandemic – the five weeks that go from January 3 to February 6 – for shops and leisure (restaurants , coffee shops, shopping centers and cinemas); 96% in supermarkets and pharmacies; 83% in parks, public beaches, squares and gardens; 61% in transport stations and 69% in workplaces; movement in residential areas has also increased by 14%. In the State of Mexico, mobility is even higher than within the limits of the capital: the movement in shops and leisure has reached 86%, and in supermarkets and pharmacies it reaches 103%.
While this is happening, stricter measures will continue in the historic center: they have closed nearby metro stations, added pedestrian streets and organized visits according to the initial letter of the citizens’ first surname. The surnames from A to L may go to the historic center on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays; While the surnames that go from the letter M to Z may do so on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. On Sundays, shops will be closed.
The city government also contemplates sanctions such as disabling businesses for up to 15 days if the rules are violated. As of September 7, the city had registered more than 105,610 positive cases and more than 10,900 deaths. The local government has reported that 158 colonies —Of the 207 that exist— such as San Gregorio Atlapulco, Santa María Nativitas or Santiago Tulyehualco (in Xochimilco); or Doctors, Obrera and Guerrero (in the Cuauhtémoc Mayor’s Office), will receive priority attention, since these neighborhoods represent 41% of all positive cases. The capital has promised the installation of 70 health kiosks and tests in markets. In addition, they will supervise that sanitary measures are complied with in public transport.
Vicente Acosta, 27, usually passes through Pantitlán to go to the Center on a regular basis. He lives near the Acatitla station, in Iztapalapa, where some two million people live together. “It is impossible for me to stay at home, I am responsible for a family of four. Since I lost my job as a laborer, I started helping in a family furniture business, for that I have to go downtown to find materials and the fastest and cheapest way is in the center ”, he says. Until a few months ago, Acosta worked setting up stages for events.
Despite increased traffic, Mexico City is moving underground. 80% of trips are still made by public transport. In fact, the meter moves more than 1 per year.647 million users. Transport in the State of Mexico also returns to normal saturation: the Mexicable already operates with 60% of its usual load and the suburban train with 40%. While the Mexico City metro has reached 60% of its normal occupation. Even so, the reduction in transport use during these months has implied economic losses. According to the head of government, the transportation systems would lose around 2,000 million pesos this year.
The Mayor’s Office where there has been the most traffic has been Tláhuac, with 90% of its usual load, while Miguel Hidalgo has presented a reduction of 55%, the area with the least traffic. “Although the traffic flow has recovered, in reality what still does not appear are the peaks of the morning and the afternoon. What we have is an increase between 12:00 and 15:00 hours, since trips are being made for family visits, care services, supply or home orders, ”explains Andrés Lajous, Secretary of Mobility of the City of Mexico.
From the end of March and the beginning of April, the inhabitants of the metropolis began a voluntary confinement that kept Mexico City unrecognizable: empty streets, free seats in public transport, deserted offices, deserted shopping centers and even silence. But this exceptional situation has gradually been reversed in the last four months. The great city, the excessive monster, has returned to movement. And with it, infections have continued to increase. Mexico is already the third country with the most deaths from coronavirus in the world, after the United States and Brazil, according to the Johns Hopkins University count.
“The lowest point of mobility occurred in the first weeks of May: we reached 20% of normal traffic. Now that we are at an orange light, we see a reduction of between 30% and 25%. We have never intended to reduce mobility, as in other cities in the world. Our concern is about the crowds that can be generated when people move, ”Lajous explains in a telephone interview.
In June, the Government of Claudia Sheinbaum inaugurated the system of epidemiological traffic light For which they have partially reopened shops, restaurants, markets, aesthetics, shopping centers, libraries, bars, cinemas and museums with security measures. The goal was to stop the drain on jobs. At least 12 million jobs were lost in April, according to a survey by the National Institute of Statistics.
In Mexico, according to data from the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI) of 2016, the rate of labor informality reaches about 60% of the employed populationTherefore, in terms of mobility, measures have only been taken to avoid crowds.