Undoubtedly, transportation is a key factor in shaping an area’s economic health and quality of life [1
]. Transportation systems provide the infrastructure for the mobility of people and goods. Moreover, they influence patterns of growth and socio-economic activity by providing access to several different land use types that are spatially separated; thus, allowing people to carry out a diverse range of everyday activities, such as working, studying and, shopping [1
Because of its intensive use of infrastructure, the transport sector is an important component of the economy and a common tool used for economic development [4
]. In the past two decades, the analytical literature has grown substantially with studies carried out using different approaches, such as a production function and growth regressions, as well as different variants of these techniques (using different methodologies, methods and data). Most of these studies concluded that transportation infrastructure and the transportation sector in general contribute to productivity, output, and growth rate [6
In these growth-focused studies, there is a bias towards the economic impact rather than the social goals, making it necessary to study the impact of transportation with qualitative parameters, such as development, and not only on quantifiable ones, such as growth [18
Furthermore, it is vital to mention that there are also some negative externalities related to transportation. For example, private cars are responsible for generating the majority of greenhouse emissions and several distinct pollutants, and these emissions contribute to climate changes, which could have serious consequences in terms of health and environmental costs [19
]. Some data for Mexico are illustrative. In 2008, the pollution generated by gasoline combustion was connected to 14,000 deaths. In addition, traffic accidents caused 24,000 deaths and left 40,000 disabled and 750,000 injured [21
]. The annual cost of these accidents was around 126 billion pesos, which is equivalent to 1.3% of the National Gross Domestic Product (GDP) [22
In terms of quality of life and social goals, the long periods of time spent in travelling reduce the involvement of individuals in their communities and limit social relations [23
]. In the study by Hart [24
], it can be appreciated that in regions of heavy traffic, there are 1.15 friends and 2.8 family members per person. In regions of medium traffic, he finds 2.45 friends and 3.65 family members per person, while for the case of low traffic, there are 5.35 friends and 6.1 family members per person.
In this pessimistic overview, there is the need to highlight that the degradation of public space due to the overuse of private vehicles (and its associated infrastructure) has harmful effects, not only upon the psychology of local population, but also upon the attractiveness and image of the city, which in turn lowers the value of land use [25
]. Consequently, the contemporary challenge of urban traffic and urban planning systems is to promote sustainable mobility using the available network (infrastructures) and constituent entities, and with a qualitative improvement based on geospatial information, participation, accessibility, and personalized travel related services that take into account social groups with different mobility necessities.
For this reason, many countries, primarily in Europe, have attempted to implement sustainable urban mobility plans so as to shift from the traditional vehicle-oriented transport planning towards a new user-friendly way of planning urban mobility. A Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan (SUMP) can be defined as a plan aimed at establishing a better quality of life via the satisfaction of people and business mobility needs in cities and their suburbs. It is based on existing planning practices and considers the principles of integration, participation, and evaluation [26
]. The focal point of a SUMP is the improvement of accessibility within urban areas to offer transportation modes and sustainable mobility of high quality through and within the urban area [27
In pursuit of this goal, a SUMP seeks to contribute to development of an urban transport system that [27
is accessible and inclusive by taking into consideration the basic mobility needs of all users;
counterpoises and reacts to the diverse demands for mobility and transport services of citizens, businesses, and industry;
promotes the integration of different transport modes in order to establish a balanced development;
covers the requirements of sustainability, through the identification of sustainable development’s main axes, such as environmental quality, health, social equity, and economic viability;
enhances efficiency and cost effectiveness;
optimizes the use of urban space, urban image, and of existing transport infrastructure and services;
intensifies the attractiveness and amenities of the urban environment and public health that consequently raises the quality of life;
upgrades traffic safety and security;
improves the quality of air by reducing air and noise pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, and energy consumption.
A regeneration scheme with the above-mentioned characteristics must have multiple guiding principles due to the nature of sustainable mobility that considers accessibility, mobility, land use, air quality issues, etc. Therefore, the regeneration area where the scheme is going to be implemented should be conceptualized and understood as a whole entity (system) that includes a variety of land-uses and activities, and where each of its components are interlinked and contribute in different ways to the overall wellness of the system.
Several studies have highlighted [28
] that the traditional paradigm of urban mobility planning based on the capacity concept in which new infrastructure (especially for auto-mobiles) is continuously built, so that to achieve a better flow of vehicles is no longer adequate because it generates a vicious cycle of development. Namely, the expansion of infrastructure (dedicated to move auto-mobiles) causes the phenomenon of urban sprawl, as access to the urban periphery is easier and can be achieved in a rapid way by the high-speed transportation networks. Nevertheless, such expansion encourages the increase in car use, which, in order to avoid congestion phenomena, further promotes the construction of new infrastructure; therefore, the vicious cycle of development is established. The result of such a development pattern forces citizens to interact less with the city, to travel longer distances, to use the car and to walk less. This pattern of urban development makes it costly and difficult to establish public transport systems, travel by bicycle, or walk. Remoteness also requires the consumption of more energy for transport and the invasion of public space by roads. Moreover, such an unsustainable development is capable of generating the fragmentation of mobility planning, which, as a consequence, causes poor adaptation to requirements regarding the sustainable urban mobility and interdisciplinary approaches, confusion over objectives, priorities, and plans, and finally, lack of communication between the different stakeholders involved (public institutions, local community, experts, users, vulnerable groups) [28
Hence, it is essential for the successful design of urban mobility plans to consider systemic approaches [32
]. The latter can be appreciated via the recommendations of the Committee of the Regions of the European Union [36
], where it is expressed that the development of urban environments must be based upon a sustainable basis and the mobility of people should not be treated via partial counter-measures [36
] that are strongly characterized by lack of continuity. Therefore, the European Committee proposes the guidelines, upon which the generation of SUMPs must be based [37
]: (a) a sustainable method that seeks to balance social justice, environmental quality, and economic development; (b) a systemic approach that considers strategies with their derived policies, programs and practices of different sectors, levels of authorities, and administrative areas; (c) a strongly participative and transparent approach that takes into account public involvement and public awareness through the stages of the planning process; (d) a clear vision, persuasive goals, and incentives that are an integral part of the sustainable development plan.
Consequently, it is of paramount importance to apply systemic methods to the decision-making of SUMPs in order to achieve sustainable mobility [38
], as it helps to reduce the negative externalities of urban growth and transportation activities [39
]. With a systemic approach, a socially, environmentally, and economically sustainable urban environment is created via the promotion of principles, such as social responsibility (safety, equality, accessibility to transportation), climate change (use of non-fossil energy for vehicles, lowering the emissions of vehicles and infrastructures), and the efficient use of resources [41
Developing a Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan is a complex, integrated process requiring intensive cooperation, knowledge exchange, and consultation between planners, politicians, institutions, local, as well as regional actors and citizens [43
]. For this reason, in this study we decided to make use of the complex large-scale integrated open systems (CLIOS) systemic approach because it perfectly matches the requirements and challenges of the SUMP process since a complex process must be analysed by a method capable of describing such complex systems. An integrated process must be supported by a systemic approach whose components are integrated. Finally, a planning process that requires intensive cooperation needs to be handled via a method that uses open systems. Moreover, we decided to use the CLIOS analysis because it has been applied previously in transportation studies [44
] but not in sustainable mobility and SUMP promotion issues.
The advantages of such a systemic approach to decision-making in SUMP are, among others: focus on mobility (people), not on transportation (traffic) [53
]; balanced development of all relevant transport modes, encouraging shared mobility approaches [53
]; comprehensive set of actions that are not only focused on infrastructure, so that to achieve cost-effective solutions [53
]; establishment of long-term vision plans that consider short- and medium-term delivery policies-strategies [53
]; cooperation and communication across institutional boundaries; reduced promotion of car oriented approaches so that to regulate transportation demand [39
]; secure, stable, comprehensive, multi-modal, efficient, environmentally and user friendly urban mobility system [37
]; strategic and goal-oriented management; transparent and participative decision-making via the involvement of numerous stakeholders [54
]; reduction of congestion; sustainable freight transport [39
]; establishment of communication channels between different policy areas and removal of institutional barriers [55
]; generation of interdisciplinary approaches and integration of different transport modes (public transport, walking, cycling) [56
The SUMP approach was proposed in Mexico by the recently elected government as a possible solution to the problems faced by the majority of Mexican cities, including the capital, which, generally speaking, follow a 3D (dispersed, distant, and disconnected) model of urban growth, characterized by a disproportionate, fragmented, and unplanned urban expansion. This model of territorial occupation is highly unproductive, because it deepens the inequality and generates high levels of pollution, increasing the risk of climate change [57
]. In Mexico, the losses for negative externalities generated by the excessive use of private cars alone—which is encouraged by the current urban planning practice—represent, per year, 5379 Mexican pesos per capita, or the equivalent to 4% of the total GDP of five large metropolitan areas that concentrate 40% of the national urban population [58
]. This situation is predicted to worsen if the use of cars continues to grow. It is within this context that the Mexican government has proposed a SUMP. However, little has been said about how this plan is to be implemented, which mirrors a situation faced by many other large, fast-growing cities worldwide.
This study applies a CLIOS systemic analysis to Mexico City’s SUMP in order to provide guidelines to improve its implementation. This is achieved in two steps: first, we facilitate the identification of the complexities and relationships among the systems of transportation, sustainable mobility, urban planning, and socio-economic activities, along with the recognition of their most important components and the institutions involved within the urban planning process. Second, we assess the effectiveness of the public policy strategies that form part of the Mexico City’s SUMP and organize them in order of importance.
The main research question for this study is: “How can the implementation of a SUMP in a city that has not started SUMP procedures, such as Mexico City, be facilitated via a systemic approach?” This principal question can be divided in four sub-questions:
What are the most important components of urban environment for sustainable mobility?
What are the relations between them?
What is the system’s structure?
What are the most important public policies for the promotion of a SUMP in Mexico City?
The paper is structured as follows. Section 2
provides a brief description of the CLIOS analysis and a general overview of its basic principles. Section 3
describes the application of CLIOS to Mexico City’s SUMP and, more specifically, is divided into three subsections:
the representation phase of the CLIOS analysis where the reader can identify the actual problematic situation in Mexico City in terms of unsustainable development, and, the relations and complexities between the most important subsystems of Mexico City for integral development;
the evaluation phase of CLIOS analysis shows what subsystems and what components of them are the most important for integral-sustainable development, and secondly, how to assess and organize hierarchically the public policies-strategies belonging to Mexico City’s SUMP;
the implementation phase of CLIOS presents the guidelines to implement the sustainable mobility plan and the mechanism that establishes how the plan is going to be monitored, reported, and verified.
presents the discussion part of the paper; Section 5
gives some conclusions and future avenues of research on this approach.
Based upon the studies seen in the introduction section of the paper [37
], we decided to apply the CLIOS systemic analysis to Mexico City’s SUMP, in order to provide guidelines to improve its implementation and to serve the present study as a point of reference for other cities around the world that have not adopted SUMP procedures. The soundest part of this study is the theoretical construction of a set of subsystems related to the Mexico City’s urban structure that permits the identification of the most important components and the type of connections between them. By that way, the decision makers are able to realize what the types of complexity between the different subsystems are, how the systems behave, and what has to be done in order to support the new mobility paradigm in Mexico City.
Moreover, through systems theory we were able to realize that the most important elements for sustainable urban mobility are accessibility and land use due to the fact that sustainable transportation modes (walking, cycling, and public transport usage) do not have the capacity to cover long distances. Therefore, it is necessary the existence of high density patterns close to the people’s habitat in order to cover their everyday activities without the need to use a car.
In addition, human health, environment, and quality of life are also very important components that need to be taken into account within the sustainable urban mobility framework as the establishment of sustainable transportation modes has the ability to affect positively both human health through active transportation and the environment via the reduction of the pollution generated by private motorized transport, leading, as a consequence, to a better quality of life.
Furthermore, it is worth mentioning that equally important within a sustainable mobility framework are the population, transportation demand, and infrastructure and transportation modes usage. This is because population is capable to generate aggregate transportation demand and considerable urban transportation infrastructure usage. On the other hand, transportation demand and urban transportation infrastructure set the background for the territorial displacements of people and define their everyday travels.
Through the identification of the previously mentioned common drivers we were able to generate logical connections with the public policies and strategies belonging to the Mexico City’s SUMP so that to organize them in order of importance. Our findings show that the most important strategy in terms of influence upon the common drivers is the “integrate” one and the most important policies are the integration of bicycle usage to the mobility system and the expansion of the mass-transport network. Once this integrate strategy is well established, then we might want to continue with the “improve” strategy. This one is related to the improvement of public transport systems and followed by the “secure” strategy, with its policy named safe infrastructure with universal accessibility, in order to allow free walking and cycling.
Finally, concerning more technical, short-term objectives, this paper proposes the following lines of action in order to help the implementation of Mexico City’s SUMP:
form mechanisms such as metadata norms that enhance interoperability of data and data searching between institutions residing within the policy system and are oriented towards sustainable mobility planning;
develop a shared diagnostic apparatus (inventory) that considers urban transportation infrastructure and city’s urban environment coverage and functionality so that to create a friendly habitat for pedestrians, cyclists and users of public transport. This apparatus will be updated periodically according to the research made by the institutions that belong to the policy sphere of CLIOS analysis and will be strongly characterized by continuity;
establish a formal channel of communication that permits the on-time connections between different organizations of the policy sphere so that to strengthen the co-management activities of sustainable urban mobility in the city of Mexico and to avoid the phenomena of data incoherence and activities overlapping.
The twentieth century was decisive for the urbanization of the world as economic, social, cultural, and political processes, such as globalization in conjunction with population growth, caused the expansion of cities [90
]. Hence, the cities needed to be remodelled as they faced overpopulation, peripheral formations and metropolisation. The structure of the city had transformed into a diversified, multinuclear form, with high rates of environmental pollution and internal insecurity [90
]. This situation resulted in the disorder of urban space, the deterioration of public space, the weakening of links between communities and the massive exodus to the periphery of many people, generating the phenomenon of suburbanization [91
]. Through the phenomenon of suburbanization, it became apparent that travels within cities and from cities to other regions were essential. Transport then emerged as a key element for urban development [92
However, the 21st century introduced new challenges to which the concept of transport failed to respond, such as environmental problems, major congestion, the invasion of public space in order to build new roads and move vehicles, noise, barrier effects, the inclusive-equitable management, and the humanization of urban management [51
]. Therefore, the literature shows a transition from one approach in terms of transport to one in terms of mobility [90
]. It is worth mentioning that this shift from transport to mobility means moving from an approach oriented to the movement of vehicles and the infrastructure necessary for them, to a mobility approach interested in the movements of individuals [90
The performance of the transportation system has the capacity to influence several other subsystems within an urban and metropolitan area due to the interlinks between them. The transportation/urban planning/and sustainable mobility subsystems are very important elements in a megacity or a fast growing urban area as the impact of transportation on the environment and land use affects the level of socio-economic activities, which will ultimately influence the people’s quality of life and will make necessary the promotion and usage of more sustainable and efficient ways of transport [103
]. Thus, transportation and urban planning via their associated strategies-public policies and decision-making indirectly determine the vision of the community’s quality of life through the establishment of strategic transportation investment and system operations directions for a geographic area.
Because of the transportation’s relation with other essential subsystems of a city’s urban structure, a system’s approach has been suggested to be part of the concept of sustainable development oriented planning [104
]. The systemic approach takes into consideration whole systems, instead of assessing each of the system’s components separately; this requires comprehensive and interdisciplinary research methods, which is time consuming and data intensive, but provides more useful information.
Nevertheless, big cities, such as Mexico City, are experiencing and will continue to experience significant growth, so it is very important to be able to deliver integral and holistic plans of mobility in a successful and sustainable manner. Experience with cases and projects in the past have given us insight into the failures and, according to Klynveld Peat Marwick Goerdeler (KPMG) [109
], these experiences show that we need to take some points into consideration if we want to succeed:
project environment and turbulence;
political control and sponsorship;
role of national government;
effectiveness of the plan;
effectiveness of procurement and financing;
Considering these facts, this study applied a CLIOS systemic analysis to Mexico City’s Sustainable Mobility Plan in order to provide guidelines to make its implementation more effective. This was achieved in two steps: first, we facilitated the identification of the complexities and relationships among the systems of transportation, sustainable mobility, urban planning, and socio-economic activities, along with the recognition of their most important components and the institutions involved within the urban planning process. Second, we assessed the effectiveness of the public policy strategies that form part of the Mexico City’s Sustainable Plan of Mobility and organized them hierarchically.
This paper can contribute in promoting and organizing, in order of importance, transportation-urban planning policies, which can mitigate the problems of urban-metropolitan regions with respect to inaccessibility and private auto-mobiles overuse. It is expected that a strategy or policies of sustainable mobility can play their role in alleviating the low-income families (that do not have necessarily the opportunity to own a car) by reducing the times needed for territorial displacement via alternative transportation modes, improving by that way the competitiveness of population, urban development and quality of life.
In addition, the present work provides evidence on how certain components of urban structure within a megalopolis, such as Mexico City, are linked to various public policies–strategies, so that governmental decision-makers can assess the effectiveness of public policies–strategies according to the co-benefits that their implementation would mean to the aforementioned urban structure components.
However, there are some aspects that need to be considered in order to further enrich the sustainable development oriented planning [108
the establishment of sustainable mobility within a huge metropolitan area as that of Mexico City it is not a easy task that will be solved in an instant. There is the need to change the way transportation issues are conceptualized and, therefore, to establish long-term goals that will last for different re-election cycles so that to assure continuity. Moreover, it is essential to interlink these goals to certain time plans in order to facilitate the implementation process;
sustainable mobility takes into consideration various aspects such as transportation, land use, socio-economic activities, accessibility, the environment, and quality of life. Therefore, it is necessary to treat sustainable mobility matters via interdisciplinary and systemic approaches that permit the examination of the system’s totality in order to identify the vision, system goals and objectives as well as the impacts. Furthermore, configurations related to SUMP within a megacity, such as Mexico City, need to consider multiscale analysis due to the collaboration between different states, counties, municipalities, and localities.
the planning of sustainable urban mobility is a strongly political process, as the decisions taken into the policy sphere set the basis for the SUMP application and its outcomes are often influenced by the opinions of different political institutions and lobbies. The procedure consists of dealing and looking for consensus among stakeholders with sometimes different points of view. Hence, an effective planning process must have the ability to incorporate new information for comparative evaluation of alternatives and to provide the opportunities to all stakeholders to be involved and to be able to influence in the decision making process;
the institutions responsible for the sustainable mobility planning need to count with the institutional structures and the skills needed to implement, operate, and maintain sustainable mobility projects within transportation systems. In addition, the ideas, cultural norms, orientations, and processes that the institution’s elements adopt are suggested to be those that comply with the principles of sustainable mobility.
The next step to consider is the combination of the CLIOS analysis with quantitative, geospatial and participative methodologies in order to evaluate mobility plans with their derived strategies and public policies, and to be able create global indexes that could reveal to the public authorities the quality of urban mobility within certain geographic areas by taking into account the perception of the people.