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«The New Suburbs: Evolving travel behavior, the built environment, and subway investments in Mexico City Erick Strom Guerra University of California, ...»

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University of California Transportation Center

UCTC Dissertation UCTC-DISS-2013-01

The New Suburbs:

Evolving travel behavior, the built environment,

and subway investments in Mexico City

Erick Strom Guerra

University of California, Berkeley

The New Suburbs:

Evolving travel behavior, the built environment, and subway investments in Mexico City

By

Erick Strom Guerra

A dissertation submitted in partial satisfaction of the

requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in City and Regional Planning in the Graduate Division of the University of California, Berkeley

Committee in charge:

Professor Robert Cervero, Chair Professor Dan Chatman Professor Elizabeth Deakin Professor Joan Walker Spring 2013

The New Suburbs:

Evolving travel behavior, the built environment, and subway investments in Mexico City © 2013 By Erick Strom Guerra

ABSTRACT

The New Suburbs:

Evolving travel behavior, the built environment, and subway investments in Mexico City By Erick Strom Guerra Doctor of Philosophy in City and Regional Planning University of California, Berkeley Professor Robert Cervero, Chair Mexico City is a suburban metropolis, yet most of its suburbs would be unfamiliar to urbanists accustomed to thinking about US metropolitan regions. Mexico City’s suburbs are densely populated—not thinly settled—and its residents rely primarily on informal transit rather than privately-owned automobiles for their daily transportation. These types of dense and transitdependent suburbs have emerged as the fastest-growing form of human settlement in cities throughout Latin America, Asia, and Africa. Wealthier and at a later stage in its economic development than other developing-world metropolises, Mexico City is a compelling place to investigate the effects of rising incomes, increased car ownership, and transit investments in the dense, peripheral areas that have grown rapidly around informal transit in the past decades, and is a bellwether for cities like Dakar, Cairo, Lima, and Jakarta.

I begin this dissertation with a historical overview of the demographic, economic, and political trends that have helped shape existing urban form, transportation infrastructure, and travel behavior in Mexico City. Despite an uptick in car ownership and use, most households— both urban and suburban—continue to rely on public transportation. Furthermore, suburban Mexico City has lower rates of car ownership and use than its central areas. In subsequent chapters, I frame, pose, and investigate three interrelated questions about Mexico City’s evolving suburban landscape, the nature of households’ travel decisions, and the relationship between the built environment and travel behavior. Together, these inquiries tell a story that differs significantly from narratives about US suburbs, and provide insight into the future transportation needs and likely effects of land and transportation policy in these communities and others like them in Mexico and throughout the developing world.

First, how has the influence of the built environment on travel behavior changed as more households have moved into the suburbs and aggregate car use has increased? Using two large metropolitan household travel surveys from 1994 and 2007, I model two related-but-distinct household travel decisions: whether to drive on an average weekday, and if so, how far to drive.

After controlling for income and other household attributes, I find that the influence of population and job density on whether a household undertakes any daily car trips is strong and has increased marginally over time. By contrast, high job and population densities have a much smaller influence on the total distance of weekday car travel that a household generates. For the subset of households whose members drive on a given weekday, job and population densities have no statistical effect at all. Contrary to expectations, a household’s distance from the urban center is strongly correlated with a lower probability of driving, even after controlling for income. This effect, however, appears to be diminishing over time, and when members of a household drive, they drive significantly more if they live farther from the urban center. The combination of informal transit, public buses, and the Metro has provided sufficient transit service to constrain car use in the densely populated suburban environments of Mexico City.

Once suburban residents drive, however, they tend to drive a lot regardless of transit or the features of the built environment.

Second, how much are the recent trends of increased suburbanization, rising carownership, and the proliferation of massive commercially-built peripheral housing developments interrelated? To investigate this question, I first disentangle urban growth and car ownership trends by geographic area. The fastest-growing areas tend to be poorer and have had a much smaller impact on the size of the metropolitan car fleet than wealthier, more established neighborhoods in the center and western half of the metropolis. I then zoom in to examine several recent commercial housing developments. These developments, supported by publiclysubsidized mortgages, contain thousands of densely-packed, small, and modestly-priced housing units. Their residents remain highly reliant on public transportation, particularly informal transit, and the neighborhoods become less homogenous over time as homeowners convert units and parking spaces to shops and offices. Finally, I use the 2007 household travel survey to model households’ intertwined decisions of where to live and whether to own a car. As expected, wealthier and smaller households are more likely to purchase vehicles. However, they prefer to live in more central areas where households with cars tend to drive shorter distances. If housing policy and production cannot adapt to provide more centrally-located housing, growing incomes will tend to increase car ownership but concentrate more of it in areas where car-owning households drive much farther.





Third, how has the Metro’s Line B, one of the first and only suburban high-capacity transit investments, influenced local and regional travel behavior and land use? To explore this question, I compare travel behavior and land use measures at six geographic scales, including the investment’s immediate catchment area, across two time periods: six years before and seven years after the investment opened. Line B, which opened in stages in 1999 and 2000, significantly expanded Metro coverage into the densely populated and fast-growing suburban municipality of Ecatepec. While the investment sparked a significant increase in local Metro use, most of this increase came from people relying on informal transit, rather than cars. While this shift reduced transit fares and increased transit speeds for local residents, it also increased government subsidies for the Metro and had no apparent effect on road speeds. Furthermore, the Metro remains highly dependent on informal transit to provide feeder service even within Ecatepec. In terms of land use, the investment increased density around the stations but appears to have had little to no effect on downtown commercial development, where it might have been expected to have a significant influence. In short, the effects of Line B demonstrate much of the promise and problem with expanding high capacity transit service into the suburbs. Ridership is likely to be high, but so too will be the costs and subsidies, while the effects on car ownership and urban form are likely to be modest.

Individually, each chapter contributes to a specific body of transportation and planning literature drawn from the US as well as developing countries. Collectively, they point to connection between land use and transportation in Mexico City that is different from the connection in US and other rich-world cities. In particular, there is a physical disconnect between the generally suburban homes of transit users and the generally central location of high-capacity public transit. Addressing this disconnect by shifting housing production from the periphery to the center or by expanding high-capacity transit to the periphery would require significant amounts of time and public subsidy. Thus, contemporary policies to reduce car use or increase accessibility for the poor in the short and medium term would do well to focus on improving the flexible, medium-capacity informal transit around which the city’s dense and transit-dependent suburbs have grown and continue to grow.

For Luis Matanzo (1978 – 2009), un abrazo muy fuerte.

–  –  –

List of Figures

List of Tables

Acknowledgements

Chapter One. Introduction

1.1 Introduction

1.2 Motivation

1.3 Overview and outline

1.4 Research contributions

Chapter Two. Land Use and Transportation in the Mexico City Metropolitan Area

2.1 Introduction

2.2 Mexico City Metropolitan Area

2.3 Land use in Mexico City

2.3.1 Population growth

2.3.2 Housing

2.3.3 Urban expansion and contemporary urban form

2.3.4 Social and spatial inequality

2.3.5 Economic activity and jobs

2.4 Transportation in Mexico City

2.4.1 Public transportation

2.4.2 Non-motorized transportation

2.4.3 Personal Cars

2.5 Geography of travel

Chapter Three. The Built Environment and Car Use in Mexico City: Does the Relationship Change over Time?

3.1 Introduction

3.2 The built environment and travel behavior

3.2.1 How the built environment influences travel

3.2.2 Toward a generally accepted model specification

3.2.3 Toward generally accepted empirical findings

3.2.4 The influence of the built environment across places and over time

3.3 Land use and transportation in Mexico City

3.4 Data and model specification

3.4.1 Descriptive statistics

3.4.2 Model forms and specifications

3.5 Model results

3.5.1 Discrete choice of whether households generate any VKT

3.5.2 Household VKT generation

3.5.3 Model limitations

3.6 Influence of the built environment on travel behavior across places and over time................. 57

3.7 Conclusion

Chapter Four. Two Cars and a Garage? Suburbanization, Commercial Housing Development, and Growing Car Ownership in Mexico City

4.1 Introduction

4.2 Suburban expansion, the housing transition, and increasing car ownership in developing-world cities 61 ii 4.2.1 Suburban expansion

4.2.2 Market-based housing transition

4.2.3 The growth in car ownership

4.3 Are the trends interrelated?

4.3.1 Suburbanization and car ownership trends by urban geography

4.3.2 Mexico City’s emerging Levittowns

4.3.3 The effects of income and household size on household’s car ownership and location decisions 75

4.4 Conclusion

Chapter 5. Mexico City’s Suburban Land Use and Transit Connection: The Effects of the Line B Metro Expansion

5.1 Introduction

5.2 The influence of high-capacity transit on travel behavior and land use

5.2.1 Land use and high-capacity transit

5.2.2 High-capacity transit, mode choice, and congestion

5.2.3 Transit’s land use impacts

5.3 Informal transit, the Metro, and the Line B expansion

5.4 Measuring the impacts of the Line B Metro expansion

5.4.1 Influence on travel

5.4.2 Influence on urban form

5.5 Conclusion

Chapter Six. Conclusions

6.1 Summary of key findings

6.2 Policy implications

References

Appendices

Appendix A: Geographic units

Boroughs and municipalities in Mexico City Metropolitan Area

Urban areas and urban screen

AGEBs

Appendix B: Data

Vehicle Kilometers Traveled

Distance to transit, distance to major highway, and distance to the Zócalo

Average home-based travel times

Population density

Job Density

iii List of Figures

FIGURE 1.1 GLOBAL POPULATION ESTIMATES AND PROJECTIONS (UNITED NATIONS POPULATION DIVISION, 2007) 2

FIGURE 2.1 MEXICO CITY METROPOLITAN AREA

FIGURE 2.2 MEXICO CITY’S URBAN RINGS

FIGURE 2.3 MEXICO CITY’S METROPOLITAN POPULATION BY URBAN RING, 1950 TO 2010.

FIGURE 2.4 MEXICO CITY’S METROPOLITAN POPULATION GROWTH BY MUNICIPALITY, 2000 TO 2010.

..................10 FIGURE 2.5 MEXICO CITY’S AVERAGE PEOPLE PER HOUSING UNIT, 1950 TO 2010.

FIGURE 2.6 TRADITIONAL INFORMAL NEIGHBORHOOD IN MUNICIPALITY OF ECATEPEC (2012)

FIGURE 2.7 COMMERCIALLY PRODUCED HOUSING DEVELOPMENT, LOS HÉROES ECATAPEC (2012)

FIGURE 2.8 MEXICO CITY’S URBAN EXPANSION (1800 TO 2000)

FIGURE 2.9 POPULATION PER HECTARE IN 2005 BY AGEB (CENSUS TRACT EQUIVALENT)

FIGURE 2.10 PERCENT OF POPULATION LIVING IN PERCENT OF LAND AREA

FIGURE 2.11 CUMULATIVE PERCENT OF POPULATION LIVING IN NEIGHBORHOODS BY DENSITY

FIGURE 2.12 DIAGRAMMATIC REPRESENTATION OF ‘ECOLOGICAL’ AREAS OF MEXICO CITY.

FIGURE 2.13 AVERAGE HOUSEHOLD INCOME BY BOROUGH AND MUNICIPALITY (INEGI, 2007A)

FIGURE 2.14 THOUSANDS OF JOBS IN MCMA BY URBAN RING

FIGURE 2.15 JOBS PER HECTARE OF URBANIZED LAND IN MUNICIPALITIES AND BOROUGHS IN 2008

FIGURE 2.16 AVERAGE ANNUAL JOB GROWTH BY MUNICIPALITY AND BOROUGH (2003 TO 2008)

FIGURE 2.17 REGISTERED COLECTIVOS, 1970 TO 1995 (WIRTH, 1997)

FIGURE 2.18 PERCENT OF TRIPS USING COLECTIVOS BY HOME MUNICIPALITY/BOROUGH OF TRIP MAKER.

............29 FIGURE 2.19 PERCENT OF TRIPS USING THE METRO BY HOME MUNICIPALITY/BOROUGH OF TRIP MAKER.............31 FIGURE 2.20 PEDESTRIAN BRIDGE CROSSING AT TENAYUCA METROBUS STATION (2012)

FIGURE 2.21 NUMBER OF REGISTERED CARS PER THOUSAND RESIDENTS BY URBAN RING

FIGURE 2.22 PERCENT OF WORK TRIPS WITH A DESTINATION IN THE URBAN CENTER IN 2007

FIGURE 3.1 POPULATION PER HECTARE BY AGEB IN 2005, MEXICO CITY METROPOLITAN AREA

FIGURE 3.2 PERCENT OF HOUSEHOLDS THAT GENERATED VKT IN 2007



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