On Wednesday the 20th of January Mexico City signed a memorandum of understanding with Volvo. The partners will cooperate to share information with the objective to realize environmentally sane public transports.
Mexico City has 9 million inhabitants and the region/urban area has 21 million inhabitants.
Like all megacities Mexico City has several urgent transport challenges:
-The car ridership is gradually increasing and the traffic is becoming increasingly congested.
-A large number of old micro and midi buses have negative impact on the air quality.
-Heavy transports contribute to road wear, noise and vibrations.
-Growth of the population increase the demand for transport capacity and insufficient number of efficient alternatives give long transport times and high costs for citizens. This cost is both reflected in higher prices for the transports and in less time with friends and family.
-High interest rates and long lead times delay the required infra-structure investments.
-The synthesis of all the challenges give raise to a negative helix where energy use and emissions of greenhouse gases are increasing and not decreasing, as the urbanization should have potential for.
I have been involved in analyzing the potential of implementing clean and energy efficient bus systems. As in most of the cities where Volvo is involved in implementing the new technology (e.g. Hamburg) the new energy efficient bus systems can address all challenges for the person transports simultaneously. In congested traffic cars are mostly the main contributors to the congestion and buses can mostly provide efficient alternatives for many of the car users. The beauty of the new hybrid and electric bus systems is that they can meet all the environmental challenges by utilizing the existing road infrastructure. When given exclusivity the buses are getting faster and the car users are attracted to the public transports. The modern design and silent drive ads further to the attractiveness. With marginal additional investments in road infrastructure for fly-over congested crossing or dive-under waterways the new bus systems can raise the capacity with further advantage in environmental performance.