Mérida, Yucatán, (August 04, 2021) .- “A comprehensive reform is urgently needed to improve the public transport service in Mérida and guarantee the right to a sustainable and safe mobility, covering from the legislative field, laws, financing, infrastructure, design, but above all the political will of state and municipal authorities”, experts in mobility pointed out.
Despite the fact that public transport is the backbone of mobility in the city, as almost half of the population uses buses or “combis” to go to school or work, according to the Observatory of Sustainable Mobility of Mérida (OMSM), there are still unresolved critical situations.
Public transportation is not a new problem, but it became more apparent during the Covid-19 pandemic.
In a tour carried out in recent days, between 6 and 7 in the morning, through various points in the heart of Mérida, the problem could be verified: long lines of people waiting for the arrival of their transport at the stops, these people have to use transport to get to their workplace on a daily basis.
The OMSM documents that 46.9 percent of trips are made by public transport and 31.5 percent by private vehicle.
Mérida, in the 2021 Cyclocities Ranking, carried out by the Institute for Transportation and Development Policies (ITDP), was rejected both in road safety and pedestrian security, with 0 percent, and in intermodality with just 9 percent.
For the urban development analyst, one of the first barriers to achieving this is financing, the certainty regarding the investments of transport companies; in addition to the lack of resources on the part of the state authorities to improve the service.
Also, he said, legislative reforms regarding mobility are important; that there be a law that establishes instruments and financing for public transport. On the other hand, he said that the municipality can help to solve the issue, not in concessions, but in building the necessary infrastructure, as well as preferential lanes for public transport.
“Those who make decisions do not use public transport on a daily basis, they do not have the experience necessary to visualize all the deficiencies of the Merida public transport system; as it is something that is alien to them, they do not consider it a priority ”, Monsreal Toraya acknowledged.
“Added to this, there is a certain stigma towards people who use transport, are labeled as poor, or who cannot buy a car”, accepted Rodrigo Casanova Castro, a member of Bitácora de Movilidad.
It is not enough to take photos when there are campaigns. “If the authorities were transport users, they could realize these shortcomings,” he said.
The designer of the habitat indicated that the current system is obsolete: 99 percent of the routes are radial and converge in the Historic Center, affecting mainly lower-middle-class people.
This, according to him, is combined with the urban expansion that occurs in the city in a disorderly way; Developments are built where transport does not enter or does so infrequently, leaving work centers far from their homes, which complicates their daily commute, he indicated.
“Some are forced to buy a car, contributing to pollution, traffic jams, and others are resigned to using a transport that leaves much to be desired, risking their health by being able to get Covid-19 in the face of crowds”, he pointed out.
On the other hand, he indicated that some actions such as the announced new Periferico route “Va y ven”, which should come into operation this summer, are positive, but work must be done to improve the entire system, connect all routes, that there be more circuits, integrating other forms of transport such as bicycle lanes, among other actions.
More spaces for pedestrians
Silvana Forti, director of the Urban Laboratory of the Model University, agreed that transport is inefficient and expensive, especially because of its radial routes, those that go from the center to the periphery, and then return to the starting point. The design is not focused on having connectivity.
“You have to reformulate the routes, you have to change the routes, which connect with the bicycle lanes to have intermodality,” she said.
On the other hand, in her opinion, transport should not circulate through the city center, nor should it reach the Plaza Grande; on the contrary, some streets should be pedestrianized, reformulate this area into macroblocks of 400 square meters, and thus gain spaces for pedestrians.
In addition to political will, she said that citizens themselves must also demand good transportation. “Public transport is a right and the State must guarantee it and society must demand a good system,” she said.
It is known in Merida, that the biggest part of the problem is the fact that there three of four Unions that control public transportation, and they have colluded with political parties, so it is very difficult to deal with them in terms of trying to change the routes because they do not want to lose control of the public transportation system. But at some point in time, either the state or municipal governments will have to deal with this situation.
Source: La Jornada Maya