Imagine spending two years of your life stuck in your car, with no one but the radio for company. That is the reality for everyone who spends two hours commuting to and from work, five days a week, for 35 years. And that is reality for millions of inhabitants of Mexico City. Indeed, many spend more than two hours each way in traffic. Add to that time spent commuting to and from school, shuttling kids to soccer practice and ballet class, to the store, and to all the fun, social outings city-living is meant to facilitate—it can actually add up to about 5 years spent in traffic during an average lifetime. Now, imagine how you would rather spend all that time. I would rather spend it at the beach!
EMBARQ Mexico teamed up with the World Bank to find and implement solutions to traffic congestion in Santa Fe, a business district in the western portion of Mexico City. This area is very problematic due to its location far from the city center, nestled amongst cliffs, with very few and insufficient access roads. Despite these problems, but due to cheap land prices, many companies and universities are located here, creating a mobility challenge for hundreds of thousands of people every day.
In May and June this year, EMBARQ Mexico and the World Bank hosted several events for the pilot project Movilidad Empresarial (“Entrepreneurial Mobility.”) Among those companies attending were Santander, Microsoft, FedEx and GE, as well as the two largest universities in the area, Universidad Iberoamericana and ITESM-Sante Fe. The topics covered include mobility challenges, an introduction to transport demand management, benefits of creating a mobility plan, and cost-benefit analysis. Fortuitously, almost everyone in attendance was already involved in alternative transportation solutions for their employees or students, but there is still much to be done, especially in the effort to coordinate collective efforts for mobility to achieve economies of scale.
The next steps found during this project call for identifying a mobility coordinator within interested organizations and polling employees about their mobility needs and what solutions they want. These solutions, many typical of transportation demand management programs (TDM), can involve shuttle buses, car-pooling, teleworking, compressed work weeks, flexible work schedules, and the inclusion of cycling and pedestrian facilities on office sites. Once survey results are in, they can be analyzed and included in each company’s mobility plan. Companies would then have three months to implement the solutions before a follow-up survey is deployed to measure progress and improve the mobility plans based on each company’s learning process.
Movilidad Empresarial helps companies by increasing productivity and work-life balance for employees, as well as reducing costs incurred by parking, and recruiting and retaining personnel. TDM also has environmental benefits. By reducing the number of single-occupancy vehicles (those in which the driver travels alone) and increasing the number of high-occupancy vehicles, it reduces greenhouse gas emissions and the effects of local air pollution. In the long-term, our vision is of an easily accessible area, where people arrive in collective modes of transportation, and once there, move about using adequate pedestrian and cycling infrastructure.