Mexico City’s Historic Center and the Díaz family, reinvigorated

Mexico City’s Historic Center and the Díaz family, reinvigorated

Metrobús reduces travel time and improves road safety in Mexico City

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Centro Histórico de la Ciudad de México—the Historic Center of Mexico City—is a vibrant whirlwind of shops, restaurants, and crowds set in a landscape of European-influenced architecture and cobblestone streets dominated by pedestrians. As a UNESCO World Heritage Site and beloved destination for locals and tourists alike, the Historic Center is the heart of Mexico City.

Salomón Díaz moved to the Historic Center when he was 15 years old. Now 86, Salomón continues to run a sports store he opened there in the 1950s, Deportes Díaz (Díaz Sports), with the help of his grandson Isaac Díaz Hernández, and other family members. Isaac is a 19-year-old law student at Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (National Autonomous University of Mexico; UNAM), and one of Salomón’s 33 grandchildren.

High rent costs forced the Díaz family to move out of the Historic Center about thirty years ago. Today, they live in a suburban area east of Mexico City called Ciudad Nezahualcóyotl. While the family owns a truck for transporting materials to and from their store, Isaac has had to independently coordinate his travels between home, work, and his university since starting law school. He’s one of 50,000 Mexico City residents who have become daily users of Line 4 of the city’s Metrobús bus rapid transit (BRT) system since its launch in 2012.

"I ride Metrobús Line 4 every day—at least two times a day—to get from work to the university and to visit friends and co-workers.

"Metrobús lets me off right in front of the entrances to the law school and legal research institute at UNAM." Isaac says Line 4 has made travel to the Historic Center much easier by seamlessly connecting buses to the city’s metro system, and that its impact within the Historic Center has been very beneficial.

"This line of Metrobús [Line 4] has improved the landscape of the Historic Center. It allows pedestrians to be safer because sidewalks are wider and well lit. It is safer to walk at night around here. It’s also helped improve sales because people are able to walk calmly, enter the shops and make purchases. We’ve benefited because there are more people visiting and buying here, people who previously were not encouraged to come to this part of the city."

Salomón agrees with Isaac. “I always thought it was very good they were going to run Metrobús here,” he says. He explains that many years ago buses used to run through the Historic Center, which correlated with prosperity among local businesses like his. When the buses were discontinued, not as many people seemed to come shop there.  It wasn’t until Line 4 started running that customers returned to the shops in full force.

"People walk around with more security now. Sidewalks are wider, cleaner, and the streets are more orderly. Metrobús stops at several stations throughout the area, which helps customers transport their purchases, and that has benefitted local commerce. So when I heard that Metrobús was coming here, I was very pleased."

The positive impact of Line 4 also extends to improving quality of life for passengers by reducing travel times and improving safety and security on a vital public transportation option in Mexico City.

EMBARQ Mexico has worked diligently to improve the infrastructure, design, and bus operations of Metrobús through “Safety First,” a comprehensive road safety management campaign for BRT systems made possible through the FedEx-EMBARQ Mobility and Accessibility Program (MAP). After conducting road safety audits on Line 2, 3, and 4 of Metrobús, Safety First is an initiative to improve traffic safety across Mexico. The effort is generating tangible improvements for urban residents like Isaac.

Compared to “old, polluting, uncomfortable and insecure” buses of years past, Isaac reports that the Metrobús buses are reliable and comfortable.

“With Metrobús we travel more quietly and calmly because we know that we will reach our destination safely and on time. The buses are new and clean, and the stations have surveillance—it seems safer. Line 4 has improved public transportation in the Historic Center by connecting buses with other transport systems. You can get to this area and from here to other destinations in less time."

"For example, I save 35 to 40 minutes on my ride to school. That helps to improve my quality of life because I have more time to study and support the family business.”

With more time to live life and a stronger family business, the Díaz family’s story underscores how much stands to be gained through the implementation of sustainable urban transport systems.