Riding el metro in Mexico city Part 2
By Lucía Santiago Dantes.
Every traveler, backpacker or simple tourist in the world face the same problem when arriving to another city in the world: How to move around. It’s not easy, everything is new and if you’ve just arrived to Mexico city and don’t know the city plus don’t speak spanish, this could be a whole new challenge. Lucky for you this is a survival guide to travel the subway in Mexico, which by the way it is called “El Metro”.
Most of the biggest cities in the world have a subway station nearby the airport, this is a logical statement and Mexico city it’s not the exception. So with some luck and planning you are set up to save a few bucks or pesos in this case. My best tip is plan ahead your budget. No matter how much money you think you have! Everybody thinks Mexico is cheap, or at least that’s the way it used to be, but although is still cheap, it’s not as cheap as it used to be. So take in mind this:
Mexico city’s taxi service at the airport and central buses is the most expensive service in the city. It can cost from 15 US dlls and up depending the area and distance you are going. During your stay you may need to use the service again during your stay and it will be around 5 up to 30 bucks per trip, if your stay is short it might not be that big of a deal or if you are staying longer and have several trips to do every day forget it! Maybe sharing a taxi with your friends will save you some money but you will save more time and money riding el metro. Also remember you will be expending a lot of time inside the taxi as Mexico city’s traffic is too heavy and traffic jams at peak hours is just a nightmare. Especially if compared to 5 pesos per ride at the subway or Metro and avoiding traffic jams. Now I have your attention? keep reading.
Well there are a few tricks you have to know before taking a ride at the Mexican subway:
1. Find out where you are. Whether at the airport, the bus stations (probably your starting point) and where’s your destination? Hostel/hotel in Downtown, Roma, Condesa, Del Valle, Coyoacan, Santa Fe, Polanco, (these are the most common areas) Locate yourself and the nearest metro station. Follow by finding out what line is in it? there must be a number and a color guide. Read the Line Map here.
Google Maps is great at this. It even shows the metro stations nearby. But You need to know the basics. As in ex:
The Airport metro station is called “Terminal Aerea”
it’s on Line 5,
color coded Yellow.
This is the Icon:
Now Mexico’s signs are chaotic as there’s a lot of advertisement around the city, in all forms and sizes so be aware that you have to really look into the space. Some entrances are very hidden but the signs are around if you know how to look and locate them. There are usually 2 signs as you can see in the following picture. One icon belongs to the Metro/Subway sign, the other one to the actual station, the last one is very obvious just a universal arrow sign to show you the way:
Mexico’s city International Airport map and location
2. Recognize the lines. Once inside you will face the first obstacle to overcome: how to swtich lines. All the lines are color coded plus each station has not only its own icon and name written so it’s very easy if you don’t speak spanish Each Icon shows an ideogram indicating what represents the most of the area the station is located. Again, look at the map here.
There are 12 lines, being the 12 the latest and most modern. I’ve ride almost all of them and lived in Vancouver for so many years and believe me, it was a slap in the face riding for 5 pesos in line 12 compared to $2.75 CA for just one zone.
3. Recognize the direction you are going. Once you know the lines, you need to know the direction you are travelling. For example, if you are at the airport and you are going to downtown, then it’s the Zocalo station you want to go. So now you know you are in the Yellow line 5 and you need to go to the blue line. That means switching several colors and lines. To switch lines you have to take in mind the direction the subway is going. That is set up by the ending station of each line.
Here are some useful examples of those stations. They are not all but are the most useful if you want to visit touristic places or just have a good look of what Mexico city has to offer:
COYOACAN.- This station will lead you to the Frida Kahlo museum. Also to the famous Coyoacan Park. (if you are coming from downtown remember you have to switch lines. From the blue line (linea 2) to the green line (linea 3).
I’ll add more information in the few days but if you need more information or want to ask something please just leave a comment.