Transportation in Mexico

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Mezcala Bridge on Highway 95 in Mexico. Mezcala Bridge - Mexico edit2.jpg
Mezcala Bridge on Highway 95 in Mexico.

As the third largest and second most populous country in Latin America, Mexico has developed an extensive transportation network to meet the needs of the economy. As with communications, transportation in Mexico is regulated by the Secretariat of Communications and Transportation, (Secretaría de Comunicaciones y Transportes, SCT) a federal executive cabinet branch.



Administrative map of Mexico. Carte administrative du Mexique.png
Administrative map of Mexico.
Llave del Desierto (desert key), Santa Ana, Sonora, Mexico. Llavedeldesierto.jpg
Llave del Desierto (desert key), Santa Ana, Sonora, México.
Queretaro Bus Terminal. Queretaro Centro Sur201708p1.jpg
Querétaro Bus Terminal.
Highway network
100 6173.JPG
M57-D Expressway joining Saltillo and
Mexico City
Total extension332,031 km
Paved highways116,802 km
Multi-lane expressways10,474 km

The roadway network in Mexico is extensive and covers all areas of the country. [1] The roadway network in Mexico has an extent of 366,095 km (227,481 mi), [2] of which 116,802 km (72,577 mi) are paved, [3] making it the largest paved-roadway network in Latin America. [4] Of these, 10,474 km (6,508 mi) are multi-lane expressways: 9,544 km (5,930 mi) are four-lane highways and the rest have six or more lanes. [3]

The highway network in Mexico is classified by number of lanes and type of access. The great majority of the network is composed of undivided or divided two-lane highways, with or without shoulders, and are known simply as carreteras. Four or more-lane freeways or expressways, with restricted or unrestricted access, are known as autopistas. Speed limits on two-lane highways can vary depending on terrain conditions. The speed limit on multi-lane freeways or expressways is on average 110 km/h (70 mph) for automobiles and 95 km/h (60 mph) for buses and trucks.

The expressways are for the most part toll roads or autopistas de cuota. Non-toll roads are referred to as carreteras libres (free-roads). Most toll expressways have emergency telephone booths, water wells, and emergency braking ramps at short intervals. The toll usually includes a "travelers' insurance" (seguro del viajero) for any accident occurring within the freeway. [5] [6] The toll expressways are on average among the most expensive in the world according to a comparative study realized in 2004 by the Chamber of Deputies. [7] The most traveled freeways are those that link the three most populous cities in Mexico— Mexico City, Guadalajara, and Monterrey in the form of a triangle. [1]

The Federal Highway Mexico-49, which works as part of the Pan-American Highway, Torreon, Coahuila. Carretera Panamericana (Mexico-49).png
The Federal Highway México-49, which works as part of the Pan-American Highway, Torreón, Coahuila.
Zacatal Bridge, the longest bridge in the state and at the time of opening the longest in Mexico. Puente El Zacatal.jpg
Zacatal Bridge, the longest bridge in the state and at the time of opening the longest in Mexico.

No federal freeway or expressway crosses a city; toll expressways are either turned into toll bypasses (libramientos), often used as toll or free ring roads (periféricos), or are turned into major arterial roads even if they function as freeways with restricted access.

Mexican highways are assigned a one to three-digit number. North-south highways are assigned odd numbers whereas east-west highways are assigned even numbers. Toll expressways usually run parallel to a free road and so are assigned the same number with the letter "D" added. (For example, the undivided two-lane highway connecting Mexico City and Puebla is MX 150, and the six-lane toll expressway is MX 150D).

Mexico has had difficulty in building an integrated highway network because of the country's orography and landscape characteristics [8] —most of the country is crossed by high-altitude ranges of mountains. Over the last two decades, Mexico has made impressive investments in order to improve its road infrastructure and connect main cities and towns across the country. [9] In spite of its extension and recent development, the roadway network in Mexico is still inadequate to meet the current needs of the population and except for the toll roads, [10] and they are often inadequately maintained. [1]

An additional problem is that in the center of the country the roads run into Metropolitan Mexico City from regional centers, but there are few roads that run peripherically to connect the other regional centers without running through the congestion around the capital. The federal government, in partnership with the government of Mexico State and the Federal District, has tried to alleviate that problem by constructing a tolled Mexico City bypass highway, "Arco Norte," which was partially opened in 2009. [11]


On 4 September the Metro opens in Mexico City. Mexico City Metro.jpg
On 4 September the Metro opens in Mexico City.
Ferrovalle locomotive in workshop. Ferrovalle diesel locomotive.jpg
Ferrovalle locomotive in workshop.

Mexico privatized its freight rail service with the dissolution of the former Ferrocarriles Nacionales de México freight service in 1998. There is a Mexico City Metro and a Monterrey Metro as well as light rail systems operating in Mexico City (Xochimilco Light Rail), and Guadalajara (Guadalajara light rail system).

The Secretariat of Communications and Transport of Mexico has proposed a high-speed rail link [12] that would transport passengers from Mexico City to Guadalajara, Jalisco, with stops in the cities of Querétaro, Guanajuato, Leon and Irapuato; and a connected line running from the port city of Manzanillo to Aguascalientes. The train, which would travel at 300 km/h, [13] allows passengers to travel from Mexico City to Guadalajara in just 2 hours [13] (the same trip by road would last 7 hours).

Airports and air travel

Airport and air traffic
Aeromexico Boeing.jpg
Aeroméxico's Boeing 757-200 at T-1 in
Mexico City International Airport
1,834 (2007)
Paved runways231
Largest airport Mexico City International Airport
(26 million p/year)
An Aeromexico Boeing 737-752 landing at Vancouver International Airport XA-ZIM-2008-09-13-YVR.jpg
An Aeroméxico Boeing 737-752 landing at Vancouver International Airport

Mexico has an extensive network of modern airports all throughout the territory; [14] flying domestically is considered efficient and safe. [14] Airport infrastructure in Mexico is the most advanced in Latin America: [15] all the cities with more than 500,000 inhabitants have an airport. There are 1834 airports in Mexico, the third-largest number of airports by country in the world. [16] The seven largest airports—which absorb 90% of air travel—are (in order of air traffic): Mexico City International Airport, Cancún International Airport, Don Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla International Airport (Guadalajara), General Mariano Escobedo International Airport (Monterrey), General Abelardo L. Rodríguez International Airport (Tijuana), General Juan N. Álvarez International Airport (Acapulco), and Lic. Gustavo Díaz Ordaz International Airport (Puerto Vallarta). [15] All airports are privately owned, with the exception of Mexico City International Airport. This airport remains the largest in Latin America and the 44th largest in the world [17] transporting close to 26 million passengers a year. [18]

There are more than 70 domestic airline companies in Mexico. [1] The major player in the industry is Aeroméxico, owned by Grupo Financiero Banamex. Mexicana de Aviación, the oldest airline in Mexico, was the second player of the industry until it ceased operations on August, 2010. Other small airlines include Aeroméxico Connect (Aeromexico regional subsidiary), Click Mexicana (Mexicana's low cost subsidiary), Aviacsa, Volaris, Interjet, TAR Aerolineas, Aeromar, VivaAerobus, Magnicharters and Republicair.

The governments of the United States and Mexico recently approved an agreement of "open skies", which allows low-cost carriers to operate point-to-point (direct) routes between American and Mexican cities. [14] This will decentralize air traffic in North America by bypassing major hubs and connecting smaller cities directly.


The port of Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico. Puerto Ensenada.jpg
The port of Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico.
Man with bike on the beach on San Agustinillo GuyBikeSanAgustinillo.JPG
Man with bike on the beach on San Agustinillo

Mexico has 76 seaports and 10 river ports. [19] The four major seaports concentrating around 60% of the merchandise traffic are Altamira and Veracruz in the Gulf of Mexico, and Manzanillo and Lázaro Cárdenas in the Pacific Ocean. These four seaports are followed in traffic by Acapulco, Puerto Vallarta, Guaymas, Tampico, Topolobampo, Mazatlán and Tuxpan

See also

Related Research Articles

Transport in Panama includes a vast network of public buses, metro lines, railways, waterways and airports. The Panama Canal Railway is an expansive railway line that provides transportation for passengers and goods across the country. Panama contains a total of 15,137 km of road transport - these include paved and unpaved roads. The main four expressways are Corredor Sur, Corredor Norte, Autopista La Chorrera and Colón Expressway. With the Panama Canal stretching across the region, it provides an alternative route for the transportation of goods. Additionally, Tocumen International Airport allows air transportation of passengers internationally and is one of the largest airports in Latin America. Transportation issue arises from poor maintenance of road features and poor regulatory enforcement on the roads have been identified. Poor weather conditions from April to December create further hazards for pedestrian and users.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Highway</span> Public road or other public way on land

A highway is any public or private road or other public way on land. It is used for major roads, but also includes other public roads and public tracks. In the United States, it is used as an equivalent term to controlled-access highway, or a translation for Autobahn, autoroute, etc.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Limited-access road</span> High-speed road with many characteristics of a controlled-access highway (freeway or motorway)

A limited-access road, known by various terms worldwide, including limited-access highway, dual-carriageway, expressway, and partial controlled-access highway, is a highway or arterial road for high-speed traffic which has many or most characteristics of a controlled-access highway, including limited or no access to adjacent property, some degree of separation of opposing traffic flow, use of grade separated interchanges to some extent, prohibition of slow modes of transport, such as bicycles, (draught) horses, or self-propelled agricultural machines; and very few or no intersecting cross-streets or level crossings. The degree of isolation from local traffic allowed varies between countries and regions. The precise definition of these terms varies by jurisdiction.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Puerto Rico Highway 52</span> Highway in Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico Highway 52 (PR-52), a major toll road in Puerto Rico, is also known as Autopista Luis A. Ferré. It was formerly called Expreso Las Américas. It runs from PR-1 in southwest Río Piedras and heads south until it intersects with highway PR-2 in Ponce. At its north end, the short PR-18 continues north from PR-52 towards San Juan. This short segment is known as Expreso Las Américas, the only segment of the route still unofficially bearing this name, since PR-18 is officially named Roberto Sánchez Vilella Expressway. The combined route of PR-18 and PR-52 runs concurrent with the unsigned Interstate Highway PRI-1. Toll stations are located in San Juan, Caguas, Salinas, Juana Díaz, and Ponce.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mexican Federal Highway</span> Highway network in Mexico

Federal Highways are a series of highways in Mexico. These highways link the nation's 32 federal entities with each other or with a neighboring country, and they are wholly or mostly built by Mexico's federal government with federal funds or through federal grants by individuals, states, or municipalities. Locally known as federal highway corridors, they are built and maintained by Mexico's Secretariat of Communications and Transportation. Federal Highways in Mexico can be classified into high-speed, limited access expressways and low-speed roads with non-limited access; not all corridors are completely improved.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Controlled-access highway</span> Highway Designed for high-speed, regulated traffic flow

A Controlled-Access Highway is a type of highway that has been designed for high-speed vehicular traffic, with all traffic flow—ingress and egress—regulated. Common English terms are freeway, motorway and expressway. Other similar terms include throughway and parkway. Some of these may be limited-access highways, although this term can also refer to a class of highways with somewhat less isolation from other traffic.

Federal Highway 85 connects Mexico City with the Mexico–United States border at Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas. Highway 85 runs through Monterrey, Nuevo León; Ciudad Victoria, Tamaulipas; Ciudad Valles, San Luis Potosí; and Pachuca, Hidalgo. It ends at the intersection of Highway 95 in the San Pedro area of Mexico City. Highway 85 is the original route of the Pan-American Highway from the border to the capital as well as the Inter-American Highway.

Federal Highway 40, also called the Carretera Interoceánica, is a road beginning at Reynosa, Tamaulipas, just west of the Port of Brownsville, Texas, and ending at Fed. 15 in Villa Unión, Sinaloa, near Mazatlán and the Pacific coast. It is called Interoceanic as, once finished, the cities of Matamoros, Tamaulipas, on the Gulf of Mexico and Mazatlán on the Pacific Ocean will be linked.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Highways in Spain</span>

The Spanish motorway (highway) network is the third largest in the world, by length. As of 2019, there are 17,228 km (10,705 mi) of High Capacity Roads in the country. There are two main types of such roads, autopistas and autovías, which differed in the strictness of the standards they are held up to.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mexican Federal Highway 15</span> Highway in Mexico

Federal Highway 15 is Mexico 15 International Highway or Mexico-Nogales Highway, is a primary north–south highway, and is a free part of the federal highways corridors of Mexico. The highway begins in the north at the Mexico–United States border at the Nogales Port of Entry in Nogales, Sonora, and terminates to the south in Mexico City.

Transportation in North America is performed through a varied transportation system, whose quality ranges from being on par with a high-quality European motorway to an unpaved gravelled back road that can extend hundreds of miles. There is also an extensive transcontinental freight rail network, but passenger railway ridership is lower than in Europe and Asia.

Federal Highway 1D is a tolled part of the Mexico Federal Highways, paralleling Fed. 1. There are two segments, one in the state of Baja California and another in the state of Baja California Sur.

Federal Highway 57 (Fed. 57) is a free (libre) part of the federal highways corridors of Mexico.

Federal Highway 295 is a toll-free part of the federal highway corridors of Mexico.

This article describes the highway systems available in selected countries.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Roads in Cuba</span> Highway system in Cuba

The road network of Cuba consists of 60,858 km (37,815 mi) of roads, of which over 29,850 km (18,550 mi) are paved and 31,038 km (19,286 mi) are unpaved. The Caribbean country counts also 654 km (406 mi) of motorways (autopistas).

Federal Highway 15D is the name for toll highways paralleling Federal Highway 15. The toll segments of Highway 15D include some of the most significant highways in the country along the Nogales-Mexico City corridor. The highway is the southern terminus of the CANAMEX Corridor, a trade corridor that stretches from Mexico north across the United States to the Canadian province of Alberta.

The Macrolibramiento Sur de Guadalajara, designated and signed as Federal Highway GUA 10D, is a toll road in Mexico. It serves as a bypass around Greater Guadalajara and currently links the Guadalajara–Tepic toll road on the west with the Guadalajara–Lagos de Moreno toll road to the east. The highway opened in its entirety in November 2017; it was formally inaugurated on January 8, 2018, by President Enrique Peña Nieto. As of 2018, the toll for the 111-kilometre (69 mi) stretch of highway is 299 pesos.


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  2. CIA - The World Factbook. CIA World Factbook. Retrieved on 20 December 2010
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  4. With data from The World Factbook
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  6. Toll Roads and Driving in Mexico. Retrieved 13 January 2007.
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  13. 1 2 "Systra : Project for a Mexico City - Guadalajara High Speed Line. Rail transport engineering, public transport engineering". Archived from the original on 1 May 2011. Retrieved 30 October 2010.
  14. 1 2 3 Domestic Flights in Mexico. Mexperience. Accessed 19 January 2008
  15. 1 2 Infrastructuras. Información de México. Ministerio de Industria, Turismo y Comercio de España.
  16. Ranking on the number of airports per country. CIA Factbook
  17. Acerca del AICM. Posicionamiento del Aeropuerto Internacional de la Ciudad de México (AICM) con los 50 aeropuertos más importantes del mundo Archived 21 June 2012 at WebCite
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  19. Transporte Marítimo. México Archived 27 May 2008 at the Wayback Machine . Centro de Información y Documentación Empresarial sobre Iberoamérica