Mexico City’s Guide to ride the subway Metro Part 1


ride-el-metro!

By Lucía Santiago Dantés.

Canada Calls it “Skytrain”, US “subway”; Mexico calls it “metro”. For all us insatiable travelers around the world, using el Metro could be a great option if you happen to visit Mexico City, why? Because it’s fast, safe and cheap! You could save a lot of time and money if you dare to jump into the crowded and surrealistic metro.

Before I start explaining you about el metro, let me tell you I decided to write this article because although I’ve been commuting a lot in México city’s metro, I haven’t seen yet any tourists using this efficient way of transportation and that’s a shame!

 

First let me give you some advice just to make your trip safer:

  1. Don’t travel with a lot of money.
  2. Forget about all your fancy jewellery and trendy watches.
  3. Do not snap your cell phone, Ipad or any kind of trendy devices in a crowded wagon. Pickpockets are everywhere not only in Mexico, don’t make yourself a target for thievery or robbery (specially if it is at night time and you’re traveling alone). It’s ok for locals as they are very familiar with their environment but remember you are and totally look like an out-of-towner. Even if you look alike, your accent will betray you! Don’t get me wrong, You can use your cellphone at the metro but just be careful, don’t walk around like a zombie texting and walking as if you were at home… because you’re not!

Now let’s begin!

El metro in Mexico city or DF is, as you may noticed, old! How old? It was built in the late 60s. If you are a collector you may feel the urge to buy it and pack it home as it is the epitome of vintage and I mean it! the orangy color of the wagons (so seventies), design (industrial and graphic design), tiles… yes el metro still has its original not so beaten up tiles (ok it’s also too dirty when it rains). Even the graphic design for the stations is still the same. In addition you can see that some natural fauna among commuters still look like it’s the 60s or 70s. A total time traveling experience!

Fellow Canadians might as well feel at home while traveling linea 9. I myself had a weird feeling while riding… I felt like I was at home. Suddenly I noticed the wagon I was travelling was made in Quebec, Canada.

Canadian made Wagon! Wish I had a better view :OS

Canadian made Wagon!
Wish I had a better view :OS

 

Pros and cons of using el metro:

Pros:

IT’S FAST!.-  Mexico city is one of the most crowded cities in the world. As a consequence it’s also overpopulated not only with people but cars, busses, trucks too. Traffic jams are a serious problem especially at peak hours. Your traveling distance of only 20 minutes or so, could turn into a 1 or 2 hours nightmare.

 

IT’S CHEAP.- El metro is still, one of the fastest and least expensive means of transportation. The price of traveling and commuting is only 5 pesos. (until a few months ago it was only 3 PESOS!!! Take that Canada! as the skytrain ride it’s 2.75 for one zone. 5 pesos would be like .50 cents Canadian and all zones and lines is the same cost. In other words: with 5 pesos you can go anywhere in the city as long as you stay inside the station and just want to switch lines.

metro-ticket1

Metro ticket. 5 pesos.

 

ITS SAFE. There’s plenty of security around and transit police can explain you how to commute. There’s also plenty of cameras and even free internet in some stations. But remember you’re in Mexico and not everybody speaks English. So if you happen to need help just ask

“Disculpe, como llego a ____” (Excuse me, how do I get to…) the officers or people in charge will try to explain the best they can.

Tip: always carry an App or a map of the lines with you. This will help you, and help them to explain better. If you need to switch lines it’s easy! Just follow the signs inside the station but be careful! Some of them leads you right to the EXIT (SALIDA) and you will have to pay again if you happen to leave the station.

 

It’s efficient: El metro has stations in almost all the popular and touristic places around the city. So it’s the best way to save if not money, time which in some cases is more valuable! Some of the best and useful Metro stations are: Zocalo, Bellas Artes, Insurgentes, Chapultepec, Coyoacan, Xochimilco etc. This will be covered in the next issue.

 

Cons:

At peak hours el metro becomes an extreme sport. You literally have to fight for a place in the wagon needles to say you need to be very brave and dive into the crowd. You’ll get pushed to enter and believe me, you will need someone to push you out! (true story). Tip: if you are female, you can look for the “women only” section and travel without the infamous push of the crowds: You will recognize the area (which may vary on every station) by the sign saying “Solo Damas y niños” (only women and children).

Tip: sometimes families can travel in this section, especially if they do have small children. Just ask permission at the officer in charge making sure everybody follows the rules.

metro_women1

metro-women-2

The funky smell in some stations. Let’s be honest, it’s a closed area, with crowds, underground, no windows and vents are not enough.

It’s a labyrinth inside! Some stations are way too big as there are 3 lines to switch, also too populated during peak hours. That could work in you advantage as you may just follow the crowd taking special notice at the signs. If you feel insecure about the way you’re going, step out! if you see a transit officer  ask and double check your destination.

estacion_metro

 

Some stations have way too many convenience stores or stands. (inside or outside). I remember I recently got lost and couldn’t find the Chapultepec entrance because of all the convenience stands outside the metro!’t a brighter side, If you’re hungry it’s a convenient place to grab a snack or a bite. There’s even a Domino’s pizza inside some metro station.

As any crowded city in the world, el metro has sometimes pickpockets. Some of their tricks include the peak hours. They act sometimes in groups and stand too close to comfort. If you carry a bag they might steal your belongings and leave the next station. They also steal wallets and phones from your jackets. Tip: pick a good spot near by a window or wall. Choose carefully who are you near by. Old folks, families and a nice girl might be your safest choice.

But this is not a reason to discourage into using El metro. Once you get use to the natural fauna it will all go smoothly. Just avoid as much as possible the peak hours and follow my advice for a safer trip and you’ll be ok.

 

 

Enjoy the ride!

 

The next article will be about how to commute and getting around stations.

 

 

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