Mexico City, or DF (Distrito Federal) as it known locally, is a car culture metropolis and has the traffic to prove it. But the best ride in town is the metro. It is one the cleanest and cheapest in the world. A single ride will set you back about 20 cents. It is also the easiest and quickest way to navigate this crowded spread out city.
What stood out is how people on the metro give up their seats for the elderly, disabled, pregnant and others who need a seat. This is not the norm on New York’s subway or London’s tube where passengers typically hide behind newspapers and remain conveniently engrossed in their ipods and other gadgets rather than give up a seat for someone who needs it more.
Also unlike the subway, Mexico City’s metro is not an equalizer of the people. In New York you’ll find bankers and beggars riding side by side. In DF mass transportation is populated by the working class. White color professionals and the elite typically do not ride it and warn against doing so. They, like many guidebooks, paint a picture of rampant pickpockets and other assorted crime and hassles. I didn’t witness this in the many miles covered during trips to the big DF and didn’t feel more vulnerable than riding the subway in New York. Like any mass transit in a big city, crime is a risk. The usual common sense, such as keeping an eye on your belongings and remaining reasonably alert, applies.
I’ll take the metro over getting waylaid by traffic snarls that turn a 15 minute journey into a two hour odyssey or being at the mercy of cab drivers who always have the upper hand over passengers in an unfamiliar city.