Mexico City: Planning for Transportation Equity

By Liliana Morales, MURP ’20

When deciding where I would intern this summer, I knew that working in my native Mexico would significantly shape my internship experience as a Chicana student. Even though I grew up in the U.S., I maintained a close connection to family in Mexico, continued our cultural traditions, and primarily spoke Spanish at home. To be back in Mexico and have the opportunity to live and work there was an exciting, challenging, and transformative experience. Undoubtedly, immersing myself in the daily life of the city and the field of transportation in one of the largest cities in the world impacted me both professionally and personally.

This summer, I had the pleasure of interning with the Planning Department at the Secretaría de Movilidad (Semovi) located in the neighborhood of Roma Norte, Mexico City. Semovi oversees public, commercial, and private transportation and mobility in the city. With 8.9 million inhabitants and an evolving mobility landscape, Semovi plans for inclusive and equitable transportation options through an increased collaborative approach that includes city officials, private and community members, organizations, and civilians.

The Semovi Team


As an intern within the planning department I participated on numerous projects and was able to professionally broaden my scope of work within the transportation field. I collaborated on the following projects:

Assessing Woman and Children Exclusive Spaces

I learned that light rail Metro and Metrobus cars in Mexico City each contain cars that are exclusively for women and children under 12 years of age. These exclusive spaces first became available in 2000 as a measure to prevent sexual abuse and harassment against women in public transportation. Today, in collaboration with additional government, private, and public organizations, Semovi continues to work towards ensuring that women have the right to access safe and equitable transportation options.

While at Semovi, I was able to attend several meetings regarding the evaluation and effectiveness of the measure. Semovi met with both Metro and Metrobus to discuss an internal field work project that analyzed how the exclusive spaces were used and understood by men and women. Both agencies found that male senior citizens, men with disabilities, and men accompanying women were all infiltrating the exclusive spaces. They discussed methods to enforce the exclusivity of women and children only spaces to reinforce their protection. Among those solutions were creating pubic audio messages, the use of screens, and making modifications to either the stations or units themselves. Even though this measure was taken as an immediate solution for women safety, the city hopes to foster sustainable gender equity at a larger scale beyond transportation to sensitize the public about equality in all aspects of life.

Ford City:One Challenge

The Ford City:One Challenge objective is to have cities propose a pilot project to improve the mobility of groups in vulnerable situations, such as people with disabilities, older adults, women, and children who live on the periphery of the city. In the first phase of exploration, City:One Challenge staff worked with Semovi to listen to community members of the municipalities in Azcapotzalco, Tlahuac, Xochimilco, and Gustavo A. Madero. In attending one of these community workshops, I listened to firsthand accounts of resident experiences while using public and private modes of transportation. These municipalities could propose pilot projects on themes related Neighborhood Mobility, Sexual Violence Prevention, Accessibility & Certainty While Commuting, and Care Mobility.

Comprehensive Mobility Program Process [Programa Integral de Movilidad (PIM)]

In addition, I worked on creating a report that detailed the PIM process of elaboration through a collection, alignment, and strengthening of multi-actor meeting and workshop data. The meetings and workshops were part of a participatory process that aimed to integrate, improve, and protect safe and equitable mobility in Mexico City.


During my stay, the colorful culture, resisting history, and passionate people allowed me to comprehend a new profound appreciation and connection to Mexico. Returning to Mexico as a U.S. raised Mexican woman allowed me to examine the relationship I had with my home country. Even though I had left Mexico at a very young age, I had the opportunity to access the culture and language. Hence, as a fluent Spanish speaker, I made a huge assumption that working in Mexico would be easier because it was my native language but that was not always the case. I was surrounded by professional experts in the field, I was challenged to not only to learn new terminology but to also produce descriptive reports and conduct surveys with local residents. Needless to say that I improved my Spanish tremendously since I used Spanish most of the day.

Exploring the historical site of Teotihuacan

I feel incredibly fortunate to have worked with professionals that are passionate and dedicated to mobility justice. Under the New Mobility Strategic Plan, Mexico City will be working towards improving quality of life, reducing social inequalities, diminishing gas emissions, and increasing productivity through a comprehensive system that guarantees decent and safe trips for all residents. Utilizing public transportation was easy, efficient, and cost effective. I am looking forward to seeing the enactment of emerging projects aimed at making transportation more accessible to groups in vulnerable life circumstances, such as people with disabilities, older adults, women, and children. In addition, I would like to explore how Los Angeles (LA) is working towards serving these groups, as well. This internship shaped my professional and personal life in a way that allowed me to appreciate the cultural richness of what both Mexico City and LA offer and acknowledge the social benefits it has on the local residents that can access effective and equitable transportation options.

With fellow MURPs

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