If there is one overwhelming, unescapable facet to Mexico City, its the traffic. There are approximately 9 million people that live in the city, however an astonishing amount of people travel in from the outskirts for work. This brings the number up to 22-23 million people. That’s a like having the entire Australian population live in one city.
Driving on a weekend is lovely. The roads are clear and moving from one place to another is a breeze. Monday to Friday are sadly a different story. Moving around will be painful, you will get angry and shout at other drivers, you will see car crashes on the way. You may possibly even seeing the two involved physically fighting, and you will have near misses.
There is clearly not one root cause but several. Firstly, many people drive because public transport is crowded and does not connect many areas. If you live in the centre then you will find easy access to buses and the metro but the rest of the city isn’t so easy to navigate as stations are sparse and buses have limited routes.
Secondly, there are a LOT of people and therefore a LOT of cars. In case you missed it early, we are talking about 22-23 million people.
Finally, people don’t obey traffic rules on a grand scale. Cars queue up to reverse down slip roads to get onto highways, a red light only means stop if you feel like it, and what most annoys me, crossroads are not kept clear, meaning when the lights turn green cars cannot move because of a line of cars coming from the right blocking their path across the junction.
According to Google Maps, I could drive to work in 7 minutes, take the public transport for 1 hour 9 minutes, or walk for 35 minutes. I should walk. But it would mean walking down a highway, which I’m not overly comfortable with. So my other half drops me off at work before moving on to his office, which does not take 7 minutes. It usually takes 25, but it has taken 45 on particularly bad days. I have colleagues who travel up to 2.5 hours each way to get to work.
Personally, I think public transport needs to cover more routes and offer more frequent services. I also think carpooling lanes should be instated on the main highways and ring roads. But, reform takes time and budgets are limited.
There is so much to see and do in Mexico City, you’re just unlikely to get there due to traffic conditions.
Read about my first few days in Mexico City here.