Mexico City’s smog-busting metrobus splutters to a halt

6/26/2017 Financial Times

AerialViewPhotochemicalSmogMexicoCity_2It’s almost election season in Mexico and the capital’s mayor, Miguel Ángel Mancera, is harbouring presidential ambitions. No surprise, then, to see orange crash barriers erected along Mexico City’s most emblematic avenue and digging machines tearing up the road to lay the foundations for a promised new mass-transit bus line.

A quick glance at Avenida Reforma — or a stuttering journey through six traffic-clogged lanes — is enough to convince most people that the status quo is intolerable. Nearly 5m cars, 36,000 buses and 82,000 lorries were registered in Mexico City in 2015 and on any given day it can feel like they are all crammed on to the capital’s most picturesque boulevard.

A 15km bus route, plied by 90 British-made buses in a dedicated lane transporting more than 100,000 people a day, sounds like a godsend to many. Metrobús, the city’s rapid-transit operator, says the new line will replace 22,000 car journeys a day. The new red double-deckers will edge out 180 old buses that are helping to choke the city’s key artery.

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