Will I need to drive my own vehicle to conduct my everyday life (work/school/shopping) at my destination?
In Mexico City, there are many ways to get around, but most people drive their own car. If you don't have a car, you have the option to travel by taxi, bus, trolley buses, Metrobús or the subway.
There are different types of taxis available: the "Sitio" (Radio Taxis) and the "Libre." The Radio Taxi is usually recommended, especially at night. Their fare is a little higher, but they will pick you up at the door and will be waiting at a pre-arranged time. You can find this taxi service in the telephone directory under "Sitios de Automóviles" or simply "Taxis." It is recommended that you never take a street (Libre) taxi at night. If you go to a restaurant at night, for example, and you need a taxi, just ask the restaurant employees to call a “Taxi de Sitio” for you. For the nearest Sitios de Taxi to your home, check with your Crown Relocations consultant.
In-town Bus Service
Bus stops are marked with a big sign and a drawing of a bus. To be sure you have the right bus, state your destination in a quizzical tone and wait for a “Sí” or “No” from the driver. Buses cover most of the city and the sign on the front of the bus indicates the final destination. Buses are entered from the front and exited through the rear door. You should have coins and small bills available for the bus fare.
Collectives or Peseros
These are microbuses or VW vans that are white with red stripes or gray and green. They have fixed routes and rates depending on the distance travelled and will take as many passengers as the car will hold, and also drop them anywhere along the route for a fixed price. The driver will hold out his hand, indicating the number of seats available. Peseros can be found on most main avenues.
Trolleys run on electricity and are attached to overhead cables. The rate is currently the same as buses and the Metro.
The Metro (subway)
Mexico City has a very efficient subway system that is clean and modern. The fare is inexpensive and transferring from one line to another can be done at no extra cost. There are currently 12 lines, although additional expansion through 2014 is planned. At this time, there are two Airport Metro stations.
The México City Metrobús is a bus rapid transit system that has been serving the city since 2005. The project is part of Mexico City’s efforts to reduce air pollution. The Metrobús system replaced 372 standard buses and microbuses with 212 articulated buses. As of March 2013, there are 4 lines that traverse the city and connect with other forms of transit. The stops are fixed; travelers board through turnstiles at separated bus platforms and ticketing is by pre-paid smartcard.
How can I legally drive a vehicle in this city?
In order to drive legally in Mexico City, you need a valid driver's license. To obtain a Mexican driver's license, you do not have to take any exams or tests; you just need to go to any of the Transit
Departments located throughout the city. The hours are very friendly; some are open Monday to
Sunday (including holidays) from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. You must bring the originals and three copies of the following:
- An FM2 or FM3
- Proof of address (i.e., telephone, water or land tax bills; proof of address does not need to be under your name if you will be renting )
- A valid foreign driver's license.
Tourists may drive with an international license or a driver’s license from their own country.
If you would like to bring your car into Mexico from the U.S., you will need to acquire a permit at the border by leaving a deposit in the amount that corresponds to the model and type of vehicle you're driving. You will also have to buy car insurance. Make sure you have an international credit card otherwise you'll find this process to be a nuisance. You may then gain entry into the country for a period of up to six months, after which you will have to renew your permit and FM-T tourist visa.
What side of the road do people drive on?
In Mexico City, people drive on the right side of the road, but keep in mind that most roads are one-way - this can be confusing if you are not used to it. You should always drive defensively and watch out for other drivers, and be extra cautious at night for drunk drivers. Although driving in Mexico City can be hectic and sometimes stressful, due to the amount of groundwork that has taken place and the inclusion of new urban highways, traffic in the city generally flows well. Of course, rush hour can still have very heavy traffic.
Describe typical public transportation an expat might use to get around the city.
As stated above, there are many options available in the city for an easy commute and they are all affordable. One option, the metro system, is extensive and covers almost the entire city. At every metro entrance, you can find a map of the routes and stations and you can buy your tickets there. You can also change as many trains and routes as you like without using another ticket, as long as you do not exit the Metro.
The bus system is also very good. The "peseros" or midi-buses are another option, although they are not quite as comfortable as the bus or the metro, but will take you pretty much anywhere. For the most part, public transportation is quite safe, but you should be cautious when traveling late at night by yourself.
A benefit for women and children traveling via metro is that every train reserves the first two cars for them so they may travel more comfortably.
Could an expat also use public transportation to get out of the city—to surrounding towns, recreation areas or suburbs? If so, list options.
For expats who want to get out of the city and visit surrounding towns, the bus network is a very good choice. If you choose this option, you can purchase a one-way ticket. In order to get a return ticket to the city, you can purchase it at your destination or you can buy a round-trip ticket when you leave. Air travel is also an option, but more expensive.
Traveling out of town is a rewarding experience for Mexico City residents, considering the wealth of colonial towns, archaeological sites and beaches. If you decide to travel by car, toll roads can be paid in cash or by using an IAVE card, which can be prepaid, or with an automatic charge to a prearranged credit card.
In regards to transportation, are there any safety issues I should be aware of?
Some transportation safety issues to be aware of are:
- Avoid traveling with flashy jewelry
- Do not carry a lot of cash
- Know your routes in detail
- Ladies should carry their purses like an American football under their arm, with the straps attached
- At the airport, only use authorized airport taxi companies; you will see signs pointing to the desks where you can pre-pay your fare by zone. (For a small group, be sure to specify a sedan to avoid the cost of a more-expensive van.)
Where do I buy tickets/tokens/etc. for the major public transportation?
When you take the subway, you can buy your ticket at any station, usually at the front entrance. If you take a bus, you pay the driver every time you get on. If you are taking an out-of-town bus, you can buy your ticket at the bus station or at any ticket office located throughout the city. With the Metrobús, you buy a pre-paid smartcard at any stop and also recharge it in the same machines.
Crown Relocations has made every effort to present accurate information. However, regulations, rates and other variables are subject to change and Crown Relocations cannot accept responsibility for the errors that might result. Should you have any questions or need additional information, please contact your local Crown representative.