Mexico City Implements Simple, 'No Circulation' Rule To Contain Pollution

By R. Siva Kumar - 03 Apr '16 07:36AM

There are 20 million Mexicans who face smog every day. There have been for years struggling to maintain healthy air quality levels, but now they have a unique idea--keep more cars off the streets, says vox. 

Every Tuesday, Mexico City's metropolitan authorities will come up with a "no circulation" policy that can maintain privately owned cars away from the road for a day per week, at least, along with an additional Saturday every month.

This plan will be put in place until late June, just before the rains start. This would help to improve the quality of the air. Moreover, the municipal authorities will reduce the threshold for declaring smog alerts.

However, even though Mexico City has had "no-circulation" laws in place since the late 1980s, ordering some cars off the city, depending on their license plate numbers, the schemes don't always work.

According to Lucas Davis, an energy researcher at UC Berkeley, such programs can lead to more air pollution. Such policies can be a big problem, so the authorities hope that the people can take public transport. However, those can be too slow and dangerous.

Hence, people just manage by buying two cars with different number plates. "I just think that once people become drivers in Mexico City they don't go back," Davis said.

Instead, these rules are mostly a costly inconvenience. "A rough calculation suggest these costs amount to over $300 million per year, or $130 per vehicle owner," according to Davis's research.

Still, the authorities continue with their scheme. "The Mexico City politicians want action," Davis said. "They see a problem and politicians want to do something. These driving restrictions make them feel like they are doing something."

It is important to put in more effort to see that it can be accomplished. "It could be done--we are there technologically we are just not there politically," Davis said.

As air pollution was high since the 1980s and 1990s, some pockets of the city are viewed as "unhealthy" by the World Air Quality Index.

This move follows a "Phase One Emergency" that was implemented a fortnight ago. It was the first quality check after 11 years, and will be implemented in the coming Tuesday and will remain in place till June 30th.

Free bus and subway rides will be offered to get people out of their car driving habits.

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