News, features, and commentary from the biggest city in the Americas, Mexico City.
Strange days have found us. Strange days have tracked us down …
Walk down the stairs into Mexico City’s Metro system these days, and it really would be appropriate to hear The Doors’ Strange Days playing.
You board the train at Patriotismo, change lines at Tacubaya, and head to Polanco station.
And what do you see? Or better said, what do you NOT see?
That’s right. No ambulantes. And not a blaring backpack speaker to be found, belching out the some annoying banda song at full ear-piercing volume, in an attempt to sell some collection of 100 songs for 10 pesos.
For anyone accustomed to travel by Metro, this new situation may feel like the Twilight Zone. It’s not normal.
But it certainly is a welcome change.
Will it last?
Not likely. Local authorities in this city routinely make a show of shutting down street vendors in various zones. But inevitably, the vendors return, and the police pay no attention to them at all as they go about their business of selling pirated Chinese merchandise. Business as usual.
New Scandal Emerges
And today, we have the breaking news that tue Metro’s new Line 12 is being shut down due to mechanical issues.
Seriously? How incompetent were the contractors? How much money did they bribe Metro and DF city officials to get the contracts?
This has “new scandal” written all over it.
Twelve of the 20 stations on the line – from Atlalilco to Tlaltenco – are offline, and will have no service for at least six months, so officials say.
Given their reliability for doing things on time, you can bet it will be much longer.
Engineers have said they’ve dound serious faults along the line, which could result in derailments.
Good lord. The word for this kind of construction work is “half-assed'”, and it seems rather common from contractors in Mexico. (Just look at how quickly road pavement falls apart.)
Anyway, putting this big story aside, what we really wanted to do was to suggest some more ways to clean up the Metro:
1. Improve the ventilation system. The line from Barranca del Muerto to El Rosario is particularly suffocating. And that’s even when it’s not packed at rush hour. It’s simply stifling. Can’t breathe.
2. Garbage cans. Why are there no garbage cans at any Metro station? Do Metro officials prefer that the public just throws their garbage anywhere?
3. Disinfectant/Cleaning. How about using some cleaning solutions with a pleasant smell in order to kill the stench of urine in the stairways? The escalators in at least a few Metro stations make one want to gag. Gross. (And this is to say nothing of the many other equally unpleasant smells to be discovered at various points throughout the Metro system.)
4. Metro Pantitlan. Please blow this station up and start again. It’s awful. No human being could design such a terrible station if they tried. There are endless stairs, and worse, bottlenecks in the passageways. Dumb, dumb design. A big “F” for failure to whoever is responsible for this entire station. (And the outside is equally a chaotic mess that should be cleaned up.)
5. Non-working escalators. Make them work.
6. Keep the system running 24 hours. We understand the need to do maintenance, but that should not stop the subway system in the biggest city in the western hemisphere from running around the clock. We don’t need trains every three minutes; every 15 minutes after midnight would be a welcome change. New York City does it, so why not here?
We won’t hold our breath waiting for these changes, but we will cross our fingers and hope for the best.
And if any of these suggestions do come to pass – and the will to keep the vendors out does continue – then we suggest that Strange Days certainly are here.