Metrobús bidding to start this month

Thursday, August 5, 2004

Mexico's Federal District (DF) government aims to start bidding by the third week of August for a 250mn-peso (US$22mn) contract to build infrastructure for its Metrobús urban transport program, DF environment minister Claudia Sheinbaum told BNamericas.

Works entail building 34 stations and one exclusive bus lane along a 20km stretch of Insurgentes avenue in the city between Indios Verdes and San Ángel. Construction will start in October and be carried out at night to reduce impact on traffic flow.

Concessionaires that currently run bus systems along Insurgentes will operate 80% of Metrobús when it starts operating in January 2005, with the government operating the 20% balance.

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The US$22mn-price tag covers the cost of the roadworks only. Operators will have to buy roughly 80 new articulated buses at 2.5 million pesos each, Sheinbaum said. The articulated buses hold up to 160 passengers apiece and will replace roughly 300 microbuses now operating along Insurgentes.

City planners are designing Metrobús expansions for other major avenues such as extensions toward arterial roads 8 Sur (south) and 3 Oriente (east). Officials aim to negotiate agreements with concessionaires operating along these roads before they commit to a new phase of work, the minister said.

Metrobús is designed to alleviate traffic along Insurgentes and could help restructure Mexico City's public transport.

Eighty percent of the DF's 12 million-plus residents use public transport, with half of them riding microbuses. By using larger buses along designated lanes, "the idea is to establish a much more efficient form of public transport," Sheinbaum said.

Other Mexican cities have had success with programs similar to Metrobús, such as León in Guanajuato state, the minister said.

The World Bank helped fund Metrobús project studies.