A MITASC story contributed by Julia Field
I wrote two papers for my summer research with Mexico’s Institute of Ecology and Climate Change (INECC). The first paper was a policy overview on electric vehicles (EV) in Mexico with examples of EV policy in other countries including Colombia, Chile, and the state of California. My second project was research on urban gondola systems and the environmental and social impacts of the urban gondola system, Mexicable, in the State of Mexico.
My research will inform an investigation INECC is doing on the carbon emissions saved by gondola systems like Mexicable. I compiled the general advantages/disadvantages of the gondola systems and analyzed public survey data to better understand how people are using Mexicable.
The advantages of urban gondola systems are that they generally serve high-altitude, low income populations, they offer a faster route than travelling at street level, they offer greater security than the micro-buses and public vans that are the alternative, and it is a clean technology because it is electric. On the other hand, the systems have a low passenger capacity (about 3,000 passengers per hour), they have speed limitations, and if ground-level routes are not reduced, the gondola system does not reduce emissions.
Mexicable runs in Ecatapec, in the State of Mexico. It is an impoverished municipality with high rates of feminicide. It is a hilly location where Mexicable has reduced a ground-level commute from 85 minutes to 17. There are an estimated 18,000 passengers a day on Mexicable and most use Mexicable along with another form of public transportation (see chart below):
The age of the commuters tends towards younger commuters:
And the travel times peak in the morning and remain constant through the afternoon:
Anecdotally, people prefer to use Mexicable because it is safer than the minibuses, where people are prone to petty theft and armed robberies, and because the trip is faster than ground travel. Mexico City plans to install four lines and the State of Mexico intends to expand their current line and build new lines. As they do so, it is important to consider the real emissions saved from this public transportation infrastructure. Similarly, there are best practices to keep in mind as new infrastructure is developed, which include:
This public reflection was produced as part of the work of the MIT Action Sustainability Corps. Learn more about MITASC here.