Public transportation. In my hometown of Arlington, Texas, I heavily relied on my parents’ or family’s vehicles to get around. Otherwise, walking would do. Eventually, after getting DACA and my license, I saved up to purchase a car and since then have relied on it to get where I need to be. I take for granted sometimes how privileged I am to have a car. I can jump back and forth between Austin, my current city, and Arlington, my hometown, without depending on a bus, plane, or person. When in Austin, I have the ability to go to the grocery store whenever I please (given I have money of course), or if I’m hungry at 1 AM, I don’t have to depend on the metro buses nor someone else to take me around. Well, I didn’t drive to Mexico, and I sure am not driving while here. Many people don’t either.
Metro. One of the biggest public transportation systems I’ve been exposed to. Intimidating during its busiest hours. Personal space isn’t really an option, but for five pesos, what more can you ask for? (That was a joke, there are many things we can ask for). Personally this is my favorite option. Despite the uncomfortable proximity to the people around you, it’s a very efficient way to navigate the city. You have to learn the lines in order to get where you need, but after getting the hang of it, it’s not that difficult.
The blue line during light hours.
One of the interesting things about the metro is that it is not foreign to this country’s informal economy. Gum, spinners, headphones, chargers, candy, ointment. If you’re on the metro for 20 minutes or more, you’re guaranteed to come across at least one vendor. They usually begin with, “en esta ocasión se vende…”, proceeded by a product and its description in a very catchy fast line. That translates to, “in this occasion what’s selling is…”, in case you’re wondering. You may also find yourself tapping your foot, caught in the moment of a small performance, whether it’s people singing or playing instruments. It’s important to note that people rarely do these things because they want to, but because there are simply are no other options to economically survive at their moment in time. Although I enjoy what I’ve seen, I also take in the different lives I come across to check my own economic privilege, despite it not being the best.
The metro has also been used as a spot for protests.
Here are some UNAM students protesting back in January.
The train. The one I take is called the “tren lijero”, or the light train. But most people call it the “tren lento”, or the slow train. Not as fast as the metro, but also gets you where you need to be, and only charges you 3 pesos. Like the metro, you will also find the informal economies presence on these.
The picture below belongs to the CDMX travel website.
Taxis. Hot pink ones. Brown ones. Yellow ones. Though the majority you find will be the pink ones which are pretty easy to spot when you’re navigating the city. Though warned not to use them often because of the potential threat of not being a real taxi, utilizing them can drive you to some genuine, human conversations with locals. In one of my experiences, the driver shared with me their perspective on the Mexican Government for example. In another, their perspective on Mexico’s economy. In another, a life vent about relationships and families.
Here’s a taxi of a local driver near where I’m staying.
Peceros o micro peceros. These vans/small buses are fun to navigate as well. The tricky part is knowing the routes because they are only posted on the front windshield of the vehicle, and you pretty much have to jump on one to figure out its route. Also very affordable, and you may also find yourself sharing very little space with others trying to get around.
Also found near where I’m staying.
Metrobus. The bus system in the city is also another impressive public transportation network. However, this is the one I least have used and cannot report much on my experiences.
Ciclotaxi. Similar in style to the pink taxis, these bikes also get people around but mostly near the Zócalo, or the center of the city.
In addition to these options, you can hop on an uber, public bikes, rental cars, your own cars, and of course your feet. I would like to note that I probably walk about ten times more than I do per day back in Austin and Arlington.
I can’t say I’m a pro yet at navigating the city, but I have definitely learned a lot during my time here.