Ambitious new bus rapid-transit system hits the road in Mexico City

Mexico City mayor and popular presidential hopeful Andrés Manuel López Obrador hopes to clear some of his city’s legendary smog and gridlock with an ambitious pilot transport project — a bus system with a hint o’ subway. Eighty new low-emission Volvo jumbo buses have replaced about 350 older, smaller buses along a portion of Insurgentes, Mexico City’s main north-south drag, running in dedicated lanes free of other vehicles. Passengers prepay for tickets and board from one of 36 modern new stations along the route. While critics contend that everything from poor planning to driver and pedestrian resistance doom the ambitious system, and local greens are incensed that thousands of trees were cut down to build the stations, planners hope that the new Metrobus system will cut some 50 minutes off the nearly two-hour rush-hour commute from one end of Insurgentes to the other. Although the system is two weeks from completion, López Obrador, other politicos, and the public took inaugural rides on Sunday.