The Metro in Mexico City

The first time I used the metro in Mexico City I had already spent more than 3 hours in taxis because as usual there was a lot of traffic in the city. So, when I needed to go back to the city centre my friend convinced me to take the metro as it is much cheaper. The metro costs five pesos, no matter how far you go. If you spend one hour in a metro it’s five pesos, if you spend one hour in a taxi it can be up to 140 pesos (if you get a cheap taxi). So we took the metro. For my friend this is very normal because he is from China and has lived in many cities where there are metros.

But for me, this was a completely new experience. I had used an underground perhaps four times in total throughout my life.

So during the next two days I had to get used to the metro. However, the metro in Mexico City can be daunting for a foreigner, as there is no announcement advising which stop is next, you need to know exactly where you are and how many stations you have to take to get to your destination. Because I am 188 cm tall, standing in the metro means nearly touching the ceiling of the train and not being able to see through the windows as they are too low for me so that every time the metro stops I need to bend right down to look through the window and check what stop I am at.

There are millions of people who take the metro every day, you can imagine that during rush hour the metro is a battle-field. It is extremely crowded and you have to fight your way through the throngs of people. All this is worth it because compared to the taxis the metro is insanely cheap.

On my fourth day, I was moving to a new house. As it’s cheap and fast I took the metro. When I got closer to the city centre the crowds of people got bigger and denser. When I entered the metro there were people pushing me from all sides. At the moment when I was changing from metro lines and stepping into the train I felt myself being pushed again but this time, when the metro door closed, I realized my phone and my wallet were gone. Of course there is nothing at all you can do. Nobody saw anything and even if they had seen something the thieves were professionals and no doubt were now long gone.
After this I didn’t felt that secure in the metro anymore. Of course I still used the metro but it took me a while to feel safe again.

Nine days later I moved to an apartment that was closer to the university. To begin with I took the metro for just one stop to my university but then I found out that there were free buses in the university so I didn’t have to take the metro anymore. As a result of this I only used the metro a few times a week. In this time, I got used to the metro and began to feel more or less safe again on it. Right up to the end of my time in Mexico I became so familiar with the metro that I began to feel like a local.

So many of my friends in Mexico City (nearly all of them), have been robbed in the metro. Unfortunately, this is quite a common occurrence in the underground and one that you must accept if you are going to live here.

I began to be able to make references that only inhabitants of the city would understand, for example, when a place was really crowded or when I had to fight my way through people I would say things like, “Metro style” or “this is like metro station Hidalgo during rush hour” and people understood instantly what I meant.

The metro in Mexico City is something you must experience, especially if you are living in the city. I highly recommend you use the metro, as it is efficient, cheap and fast but it can be dangerous and you need to be aware of your belongings. Most of all, however, it is an institution of Mexico City and to avoid it would be to miss out on a big part of this city’s culture.

Marc Huldi

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