If climate change was not enough of a reason to rethink transportation in cities, the pandemic seems to have revealed new opportunities. Now, a new transport plan has been proposed.
The Covid-19 pandemic has made us re-think how we go about safe journeys. With the aim of avoiding further infections, the Mexico City government has designed a transport plan for the new normal. It includes four key concepts, which it calls the 4 Ss of the new mobility plan. Here they are:
The first priority is health. This is a worldwide challenge due to the spread of Covid-19. But it is not the only issue, as transport generates pollution that can aggravate respiratory diseases.
The activities that the Mexico City government are carrying out to minimize the risks of contagion are:
- Constant cleaning of public transportation
- Using technology to manage services
- Signaling “safe distance” requirements
- Distributing face masks
- Increasing pedestrian areas
- Putting in place new cycle paths, among other things
- However, these are not the only actions required to keep the public safe and healthy. Promoting health and safety is not in conflict with economic sustainability and freight transportation.
“We should encourage healthy neighborhoods and lifestyles that require less movement. We should move about on foot or by bicycle, and make much more moderate use of private vehicles,” recommends María Elena de la Torre, coordinator of the Eastern C+LAB in the School of Architecture, Art and Design at Tec de Monterrey.
For De la Torre, the focus on transport and movement in cities must be holistic. This is the approach that the Mexico City government is hoping to take.
Connectivity plays an important role in supporting traffic management, so that transportation can be both safe and efficient. Speed limits and reduced traffic contribute to safer, cleaner streets.
They are some of the solutions that partners from companies such as AT&T are implementing. Regardless of the type of client, whether government or private companies, operators will be able to undertake real-time monitoring of transportation.
“Through our networks, we can see how a bus moves from point A to point B. If it’s delayed, another can overtake it in order to arrive on time. There are different elements that must be put in place in order for a city to become a smart city,” says Borja de Checa, director of Partner Solutions at AT&T in Mexico.
Some solutions, such as order tracking and remotely monitored vehicles, give users peace of mind about the arrival of their products. Companies can increase savings by planning efficient routes and thus increase savings of both fuel and time.
Here are the actions on transport safety taken by the government:
- Setting up super city blocks
- Implementing speed limits
- The safe use of motorcycles
- Connecting transport and health services
- Reducing road infrastructure risks, among others
Mexico wants to take steps towards improving air quality in order to equal the achievements of other countries in the reduction of pollution during quarantine. In the short-term, reducing individual journeys will help achieve this.
“One of the changes during the new normal has been that people who did not buy online have had to do so. The mobility of people is going to be greatly reduced. However, the mobility of products won’t stop,” believes Miguel Jiménez, Country Manager of Liftit in Mexico, a technological platform that automates and executes last-mile deliveries.
However, De la Torre says that less vehicle-dependent processes need to be put in place for goods to reach homes. “We have to think of methods that support local business. This means that products do not have to arrive by plane or using transport which pollutes even more. Talking about transportation leads us to talk about the city: new agreements, new cultures. It’s about how we want to live and develop sustainable and equitable cities,” says the academic.
The local government proposes the following for sustainability:
- Coordinating reduced occupancy on public transport
- Monitoring transport levels
- Providing information about transportation occupancy, among others
- You might be interested in: Japan is preparing to welcome autonomous public transport
According to the Transport Plan for the new normal, the epidemic will bring an unprecedented economic crisis that is characterized by an estimated 8.8% reduction in GDP and a loss of 1.4 million formal jobs in 2020. We need an economic recovery, but in an inclusive one: 60% of the Mexican population lives in some form of poverty.
Here are the actions the local government is considering for social support:
- Exclusive lanes for public transport
- Traffic light priority for public transport
- Incentives for bicycle use
- Reassigning parking spaces for micromobility, and many more
- Although some solutions to make public transport more efficient are inspired by other countries, Mexicans have also generated proposals that meet the requirements set out by the local government in its study.