Mexico City has opened the Gold Line, a new 15.5 mile, 20 station subway line that will add an estimated 380,000 daily passengers to the system. About 4 million people already ride the subway system everyday and each year, about 1.49 billion people use the system. It has a larger annual ridership than the London Underground and Hong Kong's subway, but less than the New York subway's 1.64 billion riders.
The $1.8 billion subway line is the longest in the system and is expected to reduce commute times from 150 minutes to 78 minutes. Traffic congestion will also be reduced as 860 buses are taken off the streets and more people ride the subway.
"It was worth it," Mexico President Felipe Calderon told the Los Angeles Times. "This ... is a sustainable solution to the problems of mobility and transport in Mexico City. Moreover, it minimizes the impact of pollution on the city, and that's fundamental."
The new line will serve the city's largely poor southeastern quadrant with hopes of increasing development. But the government doesn't think that the subway will cost riders more money. It say residents will save because they won't need to take multiple buses to get downtown. The new line connects with four other lines.
It was an expensive and a rare project during difficult economic times but that wasn't the only challenge, according to McClatchy Newspapers:
The project proved to be complex. A consortium led by Mexican engineers drilled through nine different types of soil and used special steel pillars on an elevated section to deal with the earthquake risk.
As Calderon says, it's “an engineering feat that competes with the best in the world.” The project took six years to complete.
Photo: Mexico City Government
Related on SmartPlanet:
This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com