Mexico City's suburban land use and transit connection: The effects of the Line B Metro expansion


Erick Guerra

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - north america, mode - subway/metro, economics - capital costs, economics - subsidy


Transit investments; Mexico City; Land use and transportation; Suburbs; Metro; Developing-world transit


Over the past half century, government agencies in Mexico City have invested heavily in high-capacity public transit, particularly the 225-km Metro system. Nearly all of this investment has been in central locations of the metropolis. Only recently has service coverage been extended into the periphery, which has accounted for the majority of postwar metropolitan population growth. The Metro's Line B, which opened in phases in 1999 and 2000, significantly expanded Metro coverage into the densely populated and fast-growing suburban municipality of Ecatepec. Comparing travel behavior and land use measures at six geographic scales, including the investment's immediate catchment area, across two time periods—six years before and seven years after the investment opened—this paper investigates the effects of one of the first and only suburban high-capacity transit investments in Mexico City. While the investment sparked a significant increase in local Metro use, most of this increase came from people relying on informal transit, rather than cars. This shift reduced average transit expenditures and travel times for local residents. However, it also increased government subsidies for the Metro and had no apparent effect on road speeds. In terms of land use, the investment increased density around the stations but appears to have had little to no effect on downtown commercial development, where it might have been expected to have a significant influence. In short, the effects of Line B demonstrate much of the promise and problem with expanding high capacity transit service into the suburbs. Ridership is likely to be high, but so too will be the costs and subsidies, while the effects on car ownership and urban form are likely to be modest.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Elsevier, copyright remains with them.


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