The "Hoy No Circula" program said that motorists in the city were prohibited from driving their cars one day each week. The day was determined by the final digits of one's license plate. Exempt from the rule were new autos (up to six years old) that passed an emissions test twice a year. However, that changed this month. From April 5th until June 30th even the owners of newer cars have one day of the week when they are not allowed to drive. The only exceptions are hybrid and electric cars. By June, the rainy season begins, and pollution levels drop. Everyone is speculating as to whether the new regulations will be temporary or will be made permanent.
My friend Alejandro is suddenly not allowed to drive on Wednesdays from 5 AM until 10 PM. On that day he has to make an even more time-consuming commute via public transport to his office. I arrived here in Mexico on Wednesday, April 6th, at the beginning of the new "Hoy No Circula" rules. Alejandro had to take public transport to come to the airport to meet me, and we took a taxi to get to the apartment that I have rented.
The new rules have generated a lot of anger and controversy. Motorcycle riders staged a huge protest rally, and the government backed down and gave them an exemption. Motorists have been complaining bitterly but have not had any organized protests. The ironic thing is that experts from the National University say that these new rules are not going to have any impact on the air quality in the city. One might expect that streets and highways in the city would be less congested, but Alejandro has not found that to be true. However, the subway and the buses... which were already packed like sardines at certain hours of the day... are now even worse and are not able to handle the increased number of riders.
The Mexico City Metrobus - Come ride in the sardine can!