May 29, 2020 | 5:00 am

On a normal day, during the week 34.56 million trips were made between the Metropolitan Zone of the Valley of Mexico and Mexico City, however, with the arrival of COVID-19, that mobility was reduced by an average of 70%, which has put people who earn income from providing mobility services are in trouble.

The urban mobility sector, which includes concessionaire transporters, man-truck schemes and companies, is responsible for between 3% and 4% of the national GDP according to the Mexican Association of Transport and Mobility (AMTM), also employs 103,218 people according to INEGI figures.

For these people, the lack of activity has translated into a significant reduction in income, since they, unlike the transport networks such as metro, metrobus, light rail and RTP, do not receive government subsidies, so their total earnings go depending on the number of passengers they transport, demand that they do not expect to improve in the short term.

We do not expect a rapid recovery, so we estimate that in a favorable horizon we would be talking about at least a year and a half so that by the end of 2021 this will start to cause,

Jesús Padilla Zenteno president of the AMTM said during the virtual forum The City and its Demons.

They do not foresee that this situation will improve despite the gradual resumption of activities “as long as a vaccine is not found and the spike in infections is latent, we will have to keep a healthy distance within the units,” said Padilla Zenteno.

So far, programs to serve this sector are on behalf of state governments. In the case of CDMX, in April it began a program to deliver monthly fuel bonds of 4,000 pesos for route units such as minibuses and 6,000 pesos for units of corridors, such as buses.

In addition to extensions of three to four months in the payment of previously acquired credits for the renewal of the fleet of taxi, bus and microbus vehicles.

However, at least in the case of the bond, the amount is insufficient given that it covers the fuel consumption of approximately two days, said Nicolás Rosales, director of Institutional Relations of the AMTM.

He added that the drop in demand and operating costs will force carriers to look for alternative business models and financing sources.

Companies like Urbvan and Jetty have chosen to focus on the essential sectors. In a statement, Urbvan reported that it signed 20 alliances with the pharmaceutical, hospital, retail, consumer and distribution sectors, among others, achieving 7,268 trips until the beginning of May.

On the other hand, Jetty enabled transportation routes for hospital personnel in Toluca at preferential prices that went from 50 pesos to 12 pesos. Additionally, they released a version of the application for free use for public transport.

“This version can be adopted at no cost by any concessionaire, from any route, from any Mexican city that wants to offer a more efficient and safe service, with which each carrier can offer its passengers some features of the original application, without having to increase the price of the public rate, ”the company said in a statement.

The transition to the new normal

Even with the resumption of activities, the AMTM does not foresee that transport operators mainly from the man-truck scheme will recover more than 20% of their usual demand, mainly because work from home will be maintained, Nicolás Rosales stressed.

To which is added the possibility that more people choose to use private vehicles and to avoid saturation of communication routes, what he recommends is that there be greater interconnection between transport systems, mainly with the CDMX Metropolitan Area.

For example, with the construction of cycling infrastructure, not only roads but massive parking lots, and that transport units are equipped with racs or loading systems that allow bicycles to be transported in trucks and buses.

In addition, carriers will have to make adjustments in the units with technology to eliminate the collection in cash, complicated investments considering the decrease in their income.

In normal contexts, an operator obtains an account between approximately 1000 and 800 pesos a day, however with confinement, the accounts are between 300 and 400 pesos.

Imagine a bus, distancing measures will have to be implemented within the units so that they go to 30 or 35% capacity so that people go with space, these are good measures but many will not be able to survive with these levels of operation ,

Nicolás Rosales said.

From the point of view of sanitation protocols, he said they are measures that are here to stay. The CDMX is providing sanitation strategies for the units, which are disinfected every night and during the day to reduce the risk of contagion.

“There is also the part of users who are responsible and adopt their own precautionary measures,” he said.