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 (SCT), a federal executive cabinet ministry. Founded on 13 May 1891 as the Secretariat of Communications and Public Works, the SCT is divided into three sub secretariats: the Sub secretariat of Infrastructure, the Sub secretariat of Communications and the Sub secretariat of Transportation.
The roadway network in Mexico is extensive and all areas in the country are covered by it. The roadway network in Mexico has an extent of 332,031 km (206,314 miles), of which 116,802 km (72,577 miles) are paved, making it the largest paved-roadway network in Latin America. Of these, 10,474 km (6,508 miles) are multi-lane expressways: 9,544 km (5,930 miles) are four-lane highways and the rest have 6 or more lanes.
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 in two-lane highways can vary depending on terrain conditions. The speed limit in 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, or 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) should an accident occur within the freeway. Nonetheless, tolls are, on average, amongst the most expensive in the world, according to a comparative study realized in 2004 by the Chamber of Deputies. 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.
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 transformed into major arterial roads, even if they are, in function, 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 therefore, 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, whereas the six-lane toll expressway is MX 150D).
Mexico has had difficulty in building an integrated highway network due to the country's orography and landscape characteristics—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. 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, they are often not adequately maintained.
An additional problem is that in the center of the country the roads run into Metro Mexico City from regional centers and there are few roads which run peripherically so as to connect the other regional centers without running through the congestion around the capital. The federal government (in parternship with the government of Mexico State and the Federal District) has tried to alleviate this problem by constructing a tolled Mexico City bypass highway, named "Arco Norte," partially opened in 2009.
Buses and Taxis in Mexico
Mexico's bus system is well-organized, relatively cheap - depending which line you choose to travel on - and runs almost everywhere in the republic. Tickets are sold only one way. You must buy the return ticket at your destination. Bus companies take reservations over the telephone, but find out when you have to pick up the tickets and where. Some bus lines have ticket offices throughout the city.
The only drawback if you're travelling on the cheaper bus lines is having to contend with extra passengers being picked up on the way irrespective if the bus is full or not. Drivers see this as a means of making extra cash for themselves and their co-workers. It can be disconcerting seeing a mother and her children having to stand several hours in a packed bus.
Recognized bus lines are Autotransportes del Oriente (ADO - www.ado.com.mx) which services Chiapas, the Gulf Coast, Mexico City, Oaxaca state, Puebla, Veracruz state, and the Yucatan. Grupo Estrella Blanca (www.estrellablanca.com.mx), which includes Elite, Flecha Roja, Futura, and Transportes del Norte, services Mexico City, the Pacific Coast, the northeast, and the northwest. Estrella de Oro (www.autobus.com.mx) services the Pacific Coast and Mexico City. ABC (www.abc.com.mx) services Baja California. ETN (www.etn.com.mx) is an excellent, luxury line that caters to the north of Mexico City.
There are different types of taxis available including "Sitio", "Libres", Radio and Tourist Taxis, but the taxi recommended (especially at night) is the Radio Taxi. The radio taxis are identifiable by the radio antenna. These taxis are dispatched by radio but will occasionally pick up a fare on the street. Their fare is higher, but they will pick you up at the door and will be waiting at a prearranged time.
The radio taxi company always keeps a record of the car and driver that provides the service and for security purposes at night the taxi service is the safest. The telephone directory will list this taxi under "Sitios de Automóviles" or "Taxis". Never take a street taxi at night.
List of airports in Mexico
Airports and air travel
Mexico has an extensive network of modern airports all throughout the
territory; flying domestically is considered efficient and safe. Airport
infrastructure in Mexico is the most advanced in Latin America: 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. 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]). 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 transporting close to
26 million passengers a year.
There are more than 70 domestic airline companies in Mexico. The major
players in the industry are Aeroméxico and Mexicana de Aviación, the
first is owned by Grupo Financiero Banamex and the second owned by Grupo
Posadas. Other small airlines include Aeroméxico Connect (Aeromexico
regional subsidiary), Click Mexicana (Mexicana's low cost subsidiary),
Aviacsa, Volaris, Interjet, Aeromar, VivaAerobus, Magnicharters and
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. This
will decentralize air traffic in North America by bypassing major hubs
and connecting smaller cities directly.
Mexico has 76 seaports and 10 riverports. 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, Topolobambo, Mazatlán and
Cheap Travel Insurance