RFF on the Issues

RFF on the Issues: Mexico’s Smog Alert and Driving Ban

Mar 18, 2016 | Shannon Wulf Tregar

Earlier this week, Mexico City issued an air pollution alert due to levels nearly 1.5 times the acceptable limits. Four days later, the alert was still in effect, resulting in an order to remove 1.1 million cars from the capital’s streets. This follows a decision last year to relax driving restrictions in the city, a move that “put an extra 1.4 million cars a day on the streets.”

Recently, RFF’s Allen Blackman and colleagues surveyed 2,500 drivers in Mexico City regarding the driving restriction program to identify the costs to area residents. They found the total cost of the program to be “roughly 3 percent of the 2013 gross domestic product of Mexico City,” and concluded that “whatever the benefits these programs may or may not have, they can be quite costly and may disproportionately hurt drivers from poorer households.”

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