26 de enero de 2016

Urban Mobility in Mexico (2015 Intercensal Survey Results)

A new urban mobility survey for México

A few months ago INEGI´s 2015 Intercensal Survey was published. This survey is done every 5 years in México and it shows an estimate of several demographic characteristics for Mexican population. This time, INEGI added two new variables which shed light on the means of transportation of “students” and “commuters” (questions 21 and 40). I should mention that the inclusion of both questions means more than just recognizing the modal choice of its inhabitants. With this information we can now update our knowledge and data related on urban mobility. Since 2007 only México City and its metropolitan area had information on this subject thanks to the Origin-Destination survey. Now with the release of the 2015 Intercensal Survey we can also find information on other states and municipalities in the country. It is also meaningful to note that between modes of transportation we can find information of people who travel by bicycle and also those making their trips by foot.  Before the 2015 Intercensal Survey the 2007 Origin-Destination Survey only showed non-motorized trips by bicycle and didn´t consider walking in the modal split, so the last versions are not comparable with this new one. Rather than just acknowledge this new database, this post shows main results and urban mobility patterns at country, state and municipality level

Current means of transportation

The graph above shows the modal choice of people in México whom traveled to school (34.4 millon) and to work (45.1 million). Among the population that goes to school, 52 percent of the population travel by foot, 24.1 percent of the people uses any paratransit or feeder services as Cervero puts out in his book “The Transit Metropolis”, 19.5 percent of the students goes by car and 1.5 percent of the population travels by bicycle. It is interesting that going to school by foot is a common practice among students knowing that only 3 on every 10 street blocks in the country have full cover of sidewalks according to INEGI´s National House Inventory. The states in the south concentrate the highest percentages of people going to school by foot and also are the states with more low income people like Chiapas and Guerrero shown in Figure 1. The percentage of students riding bicycle to school is 1.5 percent of the population in Mexico and the highest rates are located Yucatan (6.80%), Campeche (3.61%) and Guanajuato (3.56%) and some percentages are comparable with other European or North American cities where bicycle has a high modal share.

Figure 1: Percentage of population who travels to school by means of transportation in México

Mexican states, commuters and students

It is not surprise that 30.8 percent of the commuters (work purpose) in México traveled by paratransit or feedering services, this includes going by busses, cabs, and low capacity transit systems. A notable number on this analysis is the 29.2 percent of the population in the country that traveled to their job by car which is more common on states located in the north part of the México. Walking is always part of the mobility chain but until now we didn´t knew that walking only accounts 20.7 percent of the commuters which is less than the student population due to greater distances between home and work location in several states. Besides from walking and cycling to the job, the 2015 Intercensal Survey shows commuters who use school buses which represent 7.9 percent of the population in the country. It is noteworthy that, the percentage of the population using bicycles as means of transportation it´s higher among commuters (5.8 %) compared with students (1.5 %), since the use of bicycles as a utilitarian means of transportation against a recreational grew over the last years, thanks to bicycle infrastructure in many states. This has helped to many workers to get to their jobs by bicycle and arise a question related to the gap between bicycle users among students and commuters.

To know more about the modal choice between students and commuters at state level we have a close look to the transit systems that exists and also identify patterns on urban mobility. With this new database we can also characterize any state by transport choice (included cycle and walking) and by travel purpose (school or work). From the commuters in México that used school bus (7.9 %), the states with the highest percentages are in the north side of the country like Chihuahua (19.11 %), Coahuila (19.06 %), Sonora (15.81 %), Sinaloa (12.19 %) and Aguascalientes (12.18 %). This may announce the interest or common practices of labor sectors in this region that have been implementing a more environmental-friendly commuting for its employees. In this regard, CTS Embarq México has developed an ongoing study on business mobility in the Santa Fe business district, south of México City. The use of school buses for transportation in Mexico City is not widely known and has not been considered as a potential urban policy, that’s why México City ranks fifth nationally with students transferred via school bus and the last one from 32 states with 1.25% of the commuters using this transport, thus becoming a new topic with its own challenges for business and labor mobility..

Keeping up with the characterization of urban mobility, the Estado de México and Mexico City have the highest percentages of commuters traveling in paratransit services in the country with 50.93 and 46.59 percent respectively, followed by Morelos (42.44%), Tabasco (39.89%) and Quintana Roo (39.57%). The states which commutes the most by car are Baja California Sur (47.09 %), Baja California (46.76 %), Chihuahua (44.43 %) and Sonora (44.0 1%); this states also applies for students going to school by car, giving the high percentages in the same states. The use of transport systems like BRT, Light Rail and Metro does not register high rates of use in other states, except in the México City which accounts 7.89 the highest percent of the commuters, followed by Nuevo Leon (1.59 %) which has recent troubles related to its new potential fares to improve conditions for its Metro system, also Estado de México (1.34 %) which has integrated and gradually expanded its of Mexibus (BRT) network and finally Jalisco (0.56%) who also has its Metro system. See Figure 2.

Figure 2: Percentage of commuters by mode of transportation in Mexico.

Mapping the modal choice at municipality level

The exploration of this survey shows a mapping exercise at municipality level to know spatially the percentage of population that used a particular mode of transportation only for commuters. The municipality level maps are a graphic example of how people move on daily basis to work. With these products we can increase our knowledge on urban mobility and wonder about the future of this topic. There are some incredibly high percentages in towns like Santiago Nejapilla in Oaxaca where 100 percent of students walk to school, also 97.21 percent of commuters in San Miguel Yotao, but I couldn´t find the walkability of those places or any news about it. Thanks to these survey and databases, researchers have a reliable source at different scales to identify the urban mobility of the population going to their activities on motorized or non motorized means of transportation.

In the following maps we can identify municipalities in the northern parts of the country that have greater use of private vehicles to move, while those located south of the country are currently moving in non-motorized means of transportation; the next maps only shows data for commuters. The map 7 shows a GIF with the same analysis at municipal level but for students and its means of transportation in Mexico. Next to map number 7, there’s Table 1 which contains the top 5 municipalities with the highest percentage of students (left column) and commuters (right column) rated for each mode of transportation.

Map 1: Percentage of commuters that travel by Paratransit

Map 2: Percentage of commuters that travel by Car

Map 3:  Percentage of commuters that travel by School Bus 


Map 4: Percentage of commuters that travel by Bicycle

Map 5: Percentage of commuters that travel by foot (walking)

Map 6: Percentage of commuters that travel by Subway, BRT or Tram

Map 7: Percentage of students by means of transportation


Between the time that took the trip (another variable contained in the Intercensal Survey 2015) and the means of transportation used by commuters in México City, the next graph shows that non-motorized means of transportation are more efficient on trips that takes up to 15 minutes, then the Metro system takes advantage of walking on trips that takes less than 30 minutes and finally paratransit systems get the longer commutes but carries more people than cars. There´s an ongoing program to replace old buses and increase the capacity of many paratransit routes along México City and its metropolitan area with the idea of improving the quality of the trip, making it more comfort and attractive for commuters. Finally the use of the vehicle has less modal share and its benefits at least in México City are not related to short time journeys; as shown in Figure 3 below.

Finally it is important to acknowledge the results of the 2015 Intercensal Survey by the INEGI. The inclusion of walking and bicycle as means of transportation are a watershed in urban mobility sources due to its potential to learn more about the practices of its commuters in México. Information crossings are even more important and can show results that have not been achieved before. This work shows only the first choice of transportation used to get to work and school so there are pending analysis.

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