Mexico City's BRT Rolls on Through Earthquake, Subway Not So Much

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(Photo (cc) by Robin Murphy, World Resources Institute, 2007)

A 7.4 magnitude quake hit southern Mexico Tuesday, and shook ground 200 miles away in the capital city hard enough to collapse bridges and mangle subway lines. But Mexico City's bus rapid transit system kept rolling, with some delays, according to El Universal (link is in Spanish).

When subway rails are damaged, as happened in the Mexico City quake, whole lines can be crippled. But BRT can continue to run wherever the roads hold up. Mexico City's BRT runs Volvo diesel articulated buses. Some BRT stations experienced power outages that did not disrupt the system's functioning after Tuesday's quake.

Mexico City is no stranger to quakes after a devastating 8.0 temblor in 1985 killed 10,000 people. This one, much smaller, claimed only two lives. New buildings in the capital are constructed to withstand earthquakes and held up well. The subway, cleverly designed as it is, is old construction. BRT is the innovation in this pair. The system is by design -- and now by field test -- ready for earthquakes.

For more on BRT, see our series from 2009.