Estimating Demand for Interurban Rapid Transit in Mexico

In May 1995, the state of Guanajuato, Mexico, awarded a Mexican corporation a concession to build, operate, maintain, and administer a rapid transit system-Tren Rapido Interurbano de Guanajuato (TRIG)-in the El Bajo industrial corridor. When completed, the system will consist of two double-track lines, 146 km long, and 18 stations connecting the cities of Len, Guanajuato, Silao, Irapuato, Salamanca, Villagrn, Cortazar, and Celaya. In 1997 the financial advisers for the project selected Nathan Associates to review estimates of the transit systems ridership and independently assess passenger demand for the first 10 years of TRIG operations.??

Finding Facts to Secure Financing

Working with the University of Guanajuato, we interviewed more than 7,600 bus passengers to determine the origin and destination of their bus trips, their interest in using the TRIG system, and their sensitivity to fare increases. We also surveyed 10,700 drivers and passengers of automobiles and interviewed employers that provide private bus service for their employees as an alternative to the intercity bus service.

Fifteen of these employers indicated that they would stop providing the bus service once the TRIG system becomes operational. Our ridership study also examined five factors that will determine the rate of growth of TRIG ridership: (1) projected increases in the corridor’s population, (2) growth of economic activities and employment, (3) plans and projections for new urban development, (4) trends in automobile ownership, and (5) passengers sensitivity to fare increases.

The study’s documentation of TRIG’s estimated 157,000 average daily passengers in 2000 will be presented to potential investors and international financial institutions to help secure financing for the project.

Updating the Study

In 1999, at the request of CNA Excess and Select, potential insurers of TRIG ridership, we updated our study. We visited the El Bajo corridor, collected and analyzed data on recent intercity bus operations, met with government transport planning officials, and conducted independent research, surveys, interviews, and analyses on current and future travel and transit patterns, as well as economic development in the corridor.

In our updated study we examined trends in industrial development, expansion of industrial parks within the El Bajo corridor, and employee commuting patterns. We also analyzed trends in intercity bus ridership and the sensitivity of bus and rail ridership to fare increases.

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