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By metro in Mexico City

By metro in Mexico City

Mexico City Metro
Mexico City Metro
Officially named Sistema de Transporte Colectivo, but known simply as Metro , it is one of the largest and most used subway systems in the world, comprised by 11 different lines that measure more than 170 km and carry 4.4 million people every day. You'll quickly see how busy it is, particularly during the day: trains are often filled to significantly over capacity, and sometimes it will be hot and uncomfortable. Despite the close quarters, it's relatively quick and efficient, especially as an alternative to taxis during rush hours when the streets are essentially parking lots, and affordable (tickets for one trip with unlimited transfers within the system cost 3 pesos). Trains run every couple of minutes, so if you just miss it, you won't have long to wait until another arrives, and the Metro can be the quickest way to travel longer distances within the city. Stations usually have food stalls inside and outside the entrances, and many have city-sponsored exhibits and artwork on display, so it's good even for a look around. Operating hours are from 5AM to midnight on weekdays (starts at 6AM on Saturday and 7AM on Sunday), so if your plans will keep you out beyond midnight, be sure to have alternate means of transport. Although the Metro lacks informational signs in English, the system was originally designed with illiteracy in mind, so finding your way around should not be a problem. Lines are defined by number but also by a color, and that color runs as a thematic band across the entire station and along the entire route, so you always know what line you are on. Stations are identified by name but also by a pictorial icon that represents that area in some way. However, even with this user-friendly approach, entire maps of the Metro system are not posted everywhere that you'd like. They're usually only near ticket booths; there are no maps on the trains and only or two are posted per platform, so work out your route before going through the turnstiles, and have a Metro map on you. Trains and platforms do have a line diagram with icons and transfer points for easy reference. Some lines run through more tourist-related spots than others and will become very familiar to you after a while. Line 1 (pink) runs through many tourist spots, such as Centro Historico (Salto del Agua and Isabel la Catolica stations), the Chapultepec Forest (Chapultepec Station), Condesa and Roma neighborhoods (Insurgentes and Sevilla stations) and the Northwest Bus Station (Observatorio station). Line 2 (blue) runs through the Centro Historico (Allende, Zocalo and Bellas Artes stations) and reaches the South Bus Station (Tasqueña). Line 7 (orange) runs through many touristic spots such as the Chapultepec Forest (Auditorio Station) and the Polanco neighborhood (Polanco Station). Line 9 (brown) runs near the Condesa neighborhood (Chilpancingo). Line 3 (green) runs near Coyoacan (Coyoacan and Miguel Angel de Quevedo stations) and also near the City University (Copilco and Ciudad Universitaria stations). If traveling to and from the airport, you'll use Line 5 (yellow) to connect to the Mexico City International Airport (Terminal Aerea station, not Hangares nor Boulevard Puerto Areo of line 1). Line 6 (red) runs east-west to the north of the city and runs next to the Basílica de Guadalupe. Here are a few of the commonly-used Metro signs translated into English:
  • Taquilla - Ticket booth
  • Entrada - Entrance
  • Salida - Exit
  • No Pase - Do not enter
  • Andenes - Train platforms
  • Correspondencia - Line transfer
  • Dirección - Direction you are heading inside a line: one of the two terminal stations. Each platform has a large sign indicating which direction that train heads. For example, if you are travelling on Line 1 from Insurgentes to Pino Suárez stations, you are heading in the direction of the Pantitlán terminus ("Dirección Pantitlán"). On your return trip, you would be heading in the direction of the Observatorio terminus ("Dirección Observatorio").
  • As you enter a Metro station, look for the ticket booth. There might be a short queue for tickets, and to avoid having to always stand in line, many people buy a small handful of tickets at a time. A sign is posted by the ticket window that shows how much it would cost for any number of tickets. Once you approach the agent, simply drop some money into the tray and announce (in Spanish) how many tickets you would like ("uno" for MX$3, "cinco" for MX$15, "diez" for MX$30, and so on). You do not need to say anything about where you are going, since fares are the same for everywhere in the system. Once you have your ticket (boleto) it is time to go through the turnstiles (but make sure to confirm your route on a map first!). The stiles are clearly marked for exit or entry but if you are confused, simply follow the crowd. Insert the ticket into the slot (it does not matter which direction is up or forward) and a small display will flash, indicating you may proceed. You won't get the ticket back. A few frequent Metro users use keycards instead of tickets, so if you see any turnstiles marked with "solo tarjeta" that means the ticket reader is broken; just move to another turnstile. Past the turnstiles, signs that tell you where to go depending on your direction within the Line are usually clearly marked, as are signs that tell you where to transfer to a different Line. There is no standard station layout, but they are all designed to facilitate vast amounts of human traffic, so following the crowd works well, as long you double check the signs to make sure the crowd is taking you in the same direction. On the platform, try to stand near the edge. During rush hours when it can get pretty crowded, there is sometimes a mad rush on and off the train. Although for the most part people are respectful and usually let departing passengers off first, train doors are always threatening to close and that means you need to be moderately aggressive if you don't want to get left behind. If you're traveling in a group, this could mean having to travel separately. At the ends of the platform, the train is usually less crowded, so you could wait there, but during rush hours some busier stations reserve those sections of platform exclusively for women and children for their safety. While on the train, you will see a steady stream of people walking through the carriages announcing their wares for sale. Act as if you are used to them (that is, ignore them, unless they need to pass you). Most often you'll see the city's blind population make their living by selling pirate music CD's, blaring their songs through amplifiers carried in a backpack. There are people who "perform" (such as singing, or repeatedly somersaulting shirtless onto a pile of broken glass) and expect a donation. There are also people who hand out candy or snacks between stops, and if you eat it or keep it you are expected to pay for it; if you don't want it, they'll take it back before the next stop. It can be quite amusing, or sad at times, but don't laugh or be disrespectful... this is how they make a living. The best thing to do is observing how others around you behave, but you can usually just avoid eye contact with these merchants and they will leave you alone. If the merchants weren't enough, the trains are usually just crowded places to be. You will usually not get seats if you are traveling through the city center during the day, and even if you do, it's considered good manners to offer your seat to the aged, pregnant or disabled, as all cars have clearly marked handicap seats. In keeping with the mad rush on and off the train, people will move toward the exits before the train stops, so let them through and feel free to do the same when you need to (a "con permiso" helps, but body language speaks the loudest here). A few words of warning: there have been incidences of pickpocketing. Keep your belongings close to you; if you have bags, close them and keep them in sight. As long as you are alert and careful you won't have any problems. Women have complained of being groped on extremely crowded trains; this is not a problem on designated women's wagons, or any other time than rush hour. If theft or any other sort of harassment do occur, you can stop the train and attract the attention of the authorities by pulling on alarms near the doors, which are labeled "señal de alarma." When exiting, follow the crowd through signs marked Salida. Many stations have multiple exits to different streets (or different sides of streets, marked with a cardinal direction) and should have posted road maps that show the immediate area with icons for banks, restaurants, parks and so forth. Use these to orient yourself and figure out where you need to go. A good tip is to remember what side of the tracks you are on, these are marked in such maps with a straight line the color of the metro line you are traveling.

    The Most Frequently Asked Travel Questions about Mexico City

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    Mexico City Travel Guide from Wikitravel. Many thanks to all Wikitravel contributors. Text is available under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0, images are available under various licenses, see each image for details.

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