Jul 17, 2010

Mexico City Metro-Best Ride In Town

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.

Ride it long enough and you will see just about anything on sale from the practical to the obscure. It’s a subterranean market on wheels. One 20 minute ride produced men with small but effective speakers on their backs selling pirated music CDs and movie DVDs. Shoe shiners, people selling a variety of electronic kitsch, lighters, food and one man selling cookbooks for diabetics all paraded by. Somebody bought the latter.

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.


jen laceda said...

Ugh, even here in Toronto, esp. on rush hours, people don't give up their seats. When I was pregnant and gi-normous and swollen, I had to endure a crowded, 40-minute train ride without anyone offering their seat! They are either conveniently asleep or reading their paper...

Fly Girl said...

People rarely give up their seat in Chicago either. Out public transit isn't so equalizing as NY, there are a variety of working professionals and working class but not much else and usually not in very close vicinity of each other.

Nomadic Matt said...

I love in asia how everyone gives up their seat. If you are old, a kid, or preggo, people will fight to give you their seat.

Midwesterner in Mexico said...

Here, here! To the Mexico City subway! I just rode it on Thursday with a friend on our way back from a market--each carrying 2-3 bags & a couple heavy pieces of cookware. We got onto a packed train, and almost immediately two 20-something guys stood up in order to give us their seats. Impressive & a pleasant change from the US!! :)

Photo Cache said...

that's very nice to hear that people give their seats to the pregnant and the elderly. i was disgusted in barcelona and madrid that they don't do this.

Wendy said...

Jen and Fly Girl, It's really unfortunate that people don't have basic manners. There is no excuse!

Matt, I love that as well. In Asia you would be a social leper if you didn't give up your seat for those who need it.

Midwesterner, Love to hear that and also love Mexico City.

Photo Cache, It seems like in North America and Europe people don't have common decency on public transport.

A Thousand Clapping Hands said...

Hi Wendy!
Hope you're having a good summer. Mexico City is one place I would absolutely love to visit. Looking forward to reading your interview.
Best wishes,

Wendy said...

Hi Catherine,
Hope you are having a great summer as well. I bet you would love Mexico City.