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No Vehicles Today : Limiting Traffic in Mexico

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Pollution is affecting large cities exponentially, seriously damaging peoples’ health and the environment. For this reason, the program “Hoy No Circula” (No Vehicles Today), aims to limit traffic allowed to certain vehicles every day of the year.

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In recent years, large cities have seen how their skies have become toxic clouds due to the large amount of contaminating particles in the atmosphere. In the struggle for better air quality, many cities have begun to implement measures that restrict and limit the number of vehicles.

In this regard, Mexico City and the State of Mexico, areas which register high pollution levels, have a government program to lower levels of pollution called ‘No Vehicles Today.’ Over the years it has undergone changes and currently restricts traffic to certain vehicles all year round, with the exception of Sundays and public holidays.

” No vehicles Today: Mexico City enforces a government program to control pollution by limiting the circulation of vehicles.

To determine the restrictions that are imposed, a color sticker and a hologramare displayed in vehicles. How does this work? Depending on the last number of the license plate, the vehicle must display a sticker with a certain color to indicate which day of the week (Monday – Friday) the vehicle cannot be used.

Tabla 1 ING

In addition to this, currently all owners must have their vehicles checked twice a year for the emission level to be determined. Following this test, the vehicle is categorized and assigned a hologram.

Tabla 2 ING

With these two features, each user knows which days the car can be used and when a ban has been enforced. Broadly speaking, the operation works as follows:

-       Vehicles with a 00.0 hologram and the ‘Exempt’ sticker, as well as those holding special permits can be driven on any day of the week and at any time.

-       Those with hologram types 1and 2 should not be driven on the day of the week indicated by the color of the sticker, from 5am to 10pm.

As for Saturdays and also between 5am – 10pm, the restriction applies to vehicles with hologram 2.  Moreover, cars with hologram 1 are banned depending on the last number of the license plate. If it ends in an odd number, vehicles are banned on the first and third Saturdays of each month, and for even numbers; the vehicle cannot be used on the second and fourth Saturday of each month.

Sometimes, given the high levels of air pollution, even stricter measures are taken which limit the circulation of vehicles of two out of the five existing categories or extend some additional restriction to holograms 1 and 2. Generally though, this environmental contingency comes into effect during the ozone season which starts at the end of February and ends in June, with the start of the rainy season.

” 14 environmental contingencies were declared in Mexico, in 2016 which doubles estimates for 2017.

This contingency plan, called “Doble Hoy No Circula” (No Vehicles Today x2) come into effect when Mexico’s Air Quality Index exceeded 150 IMECA (Metropolitan Index of Aire Quality) ozone points (154 ppb).   This measure peaked  peaked in 2016 (data had not been submitted since 2002) with 14 restrictions of this type coming into effect. For 2017, estimates are only half as high.

Despite this forecast, six consecutive days of environmental contingency plan phase 1 were counted during the third week of May 2017 (Sunday inclusive), being the longest recorded since 2000.Therefore, it seems that the estimation was short and the City of Mexico will have, once again, high levels of pollution.

Could this be an effective measure to reduce pollution? Or is it simply a political ploy that merely pretends to fight to reduce emissions? Be that as it may, all actors must join forces to fight against climate change in a much more extensive and detailed way, in addition to searching for a sustainable future.

Roberto Rodríguez Puertas. Strategy, Marketing and Communication Director, Abengoa Mexico.

Roberto Rodríguez Puertas. Strategy, Marketing and Communication Director, Abengoa Mexico.

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