"It's not just 2 pesos; It's the country:" Mexico City's #PosMeSalto Movement Protests Rising Transit Costs
Publisher: Upside Down World
Date Written: 10/01/2014
Year Published: 2014
Resource Type: Article
Cx Number: CX20489
The author surveys the 2 peso transit fare hike in Mexico within the context of the country's suffering ecomomy and low living wage to showcase why the decision is a mistake.
Mexico City's extensive subway system, constantly packed with its 5 million daily users, has just become one of the most expensive public transit systems in the world. On December 13th, 2013 the subway fare was raised from three pesos (roughly 25 cents) to five pesos (roughly 40 cents.) Basic mathematics informs you that this is a whopping 66.66% increase, placing Mexico City transit costs at the top of the list among the top 30 countries within the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). To understand how a 50 cent fare is considered one of the most expensive in the world, you have to take into account Mexico City's minimum wage which has stagnated around 64 pesos, just shy of five dollars for a day's work. Therefore, a basic daily commute can account for a minimum of one sixth of one's daily salary and sometimes up to one half if the commuter has to pay extra for buses or minivans to travel from their house or job to the subway stop.
Confronted by this daunting reality of prohibitively expensive public transit, hundreds of students and young people, largely coordinated via social networks, organized #PosMeSalto on the first day of the fare increase. #PosMeSalto loosely translates into, "guess, i'll just jump," a city wide transportation protest which took place in the majority of major train stations on the first day of the fare hike. In the stations, participants assisted thousands of commuters in jumping over the turnstiles, ducking under them or sliding through sideways. Even subway police officers declines to intervene, and some even assisted passengers to duck below, begging them not to vault over the turnstile.
One of the popular chants during the #PosMeSalto actions was "they didn't survey me, I'm just gonna duck below." Chanters were referencing a Mitofsky survey that was conducted over two days with only 2400 participants, or a mere .05% of the commuter population of the city. The questions were front loaded, asking commuters if they would be in favor of a two peso increase if the government promised to improve service, increase ventilation and up security in the wagons. The population of the metropolitan area of Mexico City is currently estimated at 21 million people and has far outgrown the current system. Often commuters have to wait for three trains to pass by before they can even board a wagon in which people are literally packed in like sardines. With these kind of frustrations and questions worded with a focus on the improvements, 52% of the 2400 people surveyed said they would be in support of a fare hike. This government later plastered the statistic all over the subway system in slick advertising promoting the fare hike. In the months before the fare hike, many commuters, including the author of this article, noted a worsening of the subway service, and some suspected that the transit authorities slowed service to convince people of the necessity of a fare hike.