I checked out Mexico City's metro and was blown away by how much cleaner, faster, and quieter it is than New York's subway. Here's what it was like.
Jeffrey Greenberg/UIG via Getty Images
- Mexico City is one of the largest metropolitan areas in the world, and its metro carries 1.6 billion people every year.
- New York City is the only subway that carries more passengers, but Mexico City's system puts it to shame.
- My experience in the Mexican capital showed that trains can be fast, clean, and quiet, without the need for expensive station upgrades or even express trains.
New York City could learn a lot from Mexico City's metro system.The Mexican capital is the largest city in North America, and even the US' largest city pales in comparison to its sweeping neighborhoods and suburbs that stretch for miles across the valley.Advertisement
Despite carrying 1.6 billion passengers per year - second only to New York in North America - in and around Mexico's capital and the largest Spanish speaking city in the world the system is relatively simple to navigate and eerily quiet compared to New York's screeching trains (and often time, loud musicians).
And while the streets above are clogged with traffic and pollution, below ground, trains were quiet, quick and efficient. Here's what my experience was like:
Like most cities, the entrances are clearly marked from above ground. In most of the stations I visited there were multiple entrances for a stop.
Every station has its own icon, usually related to its history or location in the city. That makes the city a lot easier to navigate for people who may not be able to read.Advertisement
There's a total of 12 lines criss-crossing the city, and connecting to regional rail services.
Most stations had expansive mezzanines with food vendors, shoe shine stands, internet cafe's and more.Advertisement
And yes, even Domino's Pizza.
First things first, I needed a ticket. Fares run five pesos per person per trip, or roughly $0.26, and can only be bought in person at a booth.Advertisement
The ticket lines can get long, but move quickly.
Once on the platform, things were sparkling clean and very orderly.Advertisement
Two cars are always reserved for women and children. At busy stations, a police officer was present to make sure no one accidentally boards in the wrong section.
Yellow lines mark where the doors will open when a train pulls in. "Let people off before boarding," a sign reads above each door.Advertisement
Trains can get crowded — very crowded — during rush hour. This photo is from mid-morning, well after the morning rush, when things had calmed down a bit.
Here you can see the rubber wheels that not only keep noise down, but also help in the event of an earthquake, which are common in the city.Advertisement
There's also an emergency ladder in each car in case of a seismic event.
On board, the trains are like most any other subway car in the world. There appeared to be air conditioning, but the windows were open.Advertisement
There aren't any loudspeaker announcements for stops — so paying attention to the strip map was super important, especially when it was too crowded to see out the window.
Only 24 of the system's 195 stations connect multiple lines — but the transfers are often beautiful walks.Advertisement
At La Raza, a light tunnel is filled with educational posters about the history of the earth.
Unlike New York, outside stations are covered from the elements and just as clean as their subterranean counterparts. The skylights are also a nice touch.Advertisement
So while I was eager to return home after my brief trip, I'll miss the simplistic beauty of Mexico City's metro — and especially the delicious snacks.
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