The Metro Line 3

Guadalajara Metropolitan Area, Mexico

The construction of a new subway line will increase transport capacity and reduce the transit time for passengers who commute to work, study or socialize in the Metropolitan Area of Guadalajara.

The Metro Line 3 project forms an integral part of the National Development Plan 2013-2018. It is managed by the Federal Government of Mexico and co-ordinated by the State counterpart. The development of a third metro line in the metropolitan area of Guadalajara is expected to significantly improve the mobility of passengers in the capital region and address long term sustainability goals.

The Metro Line 3 stretches across 22 km, with 17 km in viaducts and the remaining 5 km underground, and includes a total of 18 stations; 13 above ground and 5 underground. By connecting three adjacent municipalities (Zapopan, Guadalajara and Tlaquepaque), the new line aims to increase mass transport capacity, alleviate traffic congestion and decrease transit times for commuters. Utilizing wind energy, the new trains will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 17 thousand tonnes each year.

For more information on Metropolitan Governance in Guadalajara Metropolitan Area, see: 

(UN-Habitat / GIZ).


City information
Guadalajara Metropolitan Area

Size and population development
The 2010 Census of Population and Housing states the population of the Guadalajara Metropolitan Area at 4,434,878 people, with an average population density of 1622 habitants per square kilometer. The average rate of population growth for GMA over the last two decades has been 1.86%, significantly higher than the national average of 1.37%

Main functions
Guadalajara is the capital of the state of Jalisco, one of 32 states of the Mexican republic. It is positioned in Western Mexico, in the geographical area known as Valle de Atemajac. Guadalajara is the cultural center of Western Mexico, considered by most to be the home of mariachi music and host to a number of large-scale cultural events such as the Guadalajara International Film Festival, the Guadalajara International Book Fair, and which draw international visitors. It is home to C.D. Guadalajara, one of the most popular football clubs in Mexico.

Main industries / business
The city's economy is based on services and industry, especially information technology, with a large number of international firms having regional offices and manufacturing facilities in the Guadalajara Metropolitan Area, and several domestic IT companies headquartered in the city. Other, more traditional industries, such as tourism, textiles food processing and shoes are also important contributing sectors to the economy.

Sources for city budget
The Federal of Government of Mexico, the Jalisco State government and taxation revenue.

Political structure
The municipality of Guadalajara is governed by a municipal president who exercises executive power for a three-year term. The Cabildo is the highest authority in Guadalajara, responsible for defining the laws and regulations applicable within the municipality.

Administrative structure
The municipality of Guadalajara is divided into five electoral districts for the purpose of election of representatives of the city to the Federal government.

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Background and objectives

The Guadalajara Metropolitan Area (GMA) is an urban area covering 2,734 square kilometres, located at the centre of the State of Jalisco. It is the second largest metropolitan area in Mexico in terms of population (4.8 million) combining a modern and diversified industrial base with a strong sector of services, especially education and tourism. In the last two decades the GMA has emerged as a popular choice for investments in aerospace, electronics manufacturing and information and communication technologies: it is often referred to as the Mexican “Silicon Valley”.

Public transport in the GMA consists of 300 bus and trolleybus routes; two lines of light rail and one Bus Rapid Transit line, the Macrobus commenced operating in 2009. Currently additional BRT lines are being designed and installed, however, the GMA’s mass transit system is still limited. The commuting population of the GMA is triple in size compared to other metropolitan municipalities in Mexico, and a floating population of approximately 1,120,000 travels to the GMA every day to work, study or socialize.


The Metro Line 3 is scheduled to be in service by mid-2018.  Civil engineering commenced in August 2014, after feasibility studies were conducted, including public demand, financial and legal studies and environmental and socio-economic analyses and impacts. The first test train arrived at Guadalajara Station on 16 December 2016, while testing of new rail cars will continue until March 2017.

18 trains will operate on Line 3. The train carriages have state-of-the-art technology for communications and command operations and are fitted with LED lighting and air conditioning.

The State Government has granted economic concessions for public transportation to the Urban Electric Train System (SITEUR), a public company. SITEUR is a decentralized public entity, which aims to regulate the operation as well as to organize and manage the resources in its charge. SITEUR’s primary objective is the efficient delivery of the public service of massive urban passenger transport.

SENER, the construction company, is responsible for the following elements of the project:

  • Layout, implantation, architecture and structure of the stations
  • Electro-mechanical installations of the stations, structural design of the tunnel and viaducts
  • Urban integration of the line, track design, as well as railway electrification;
  • Control and communications facilities, and rolling stock
  • Design of the railway operation model and the financial model
  • Design of patios and workshops
  • Re-modelling of the existing bus network and design of transport interchanges
Financing and resources

The Federal Government of Mexico is the lead agency for the project and is largely responsible for financing the project with fiscal revenues coming from Jalisco State Government.

Results and impacts
  • increase mass transport capacity
  • alleviate traffic congestion
  • decrease transit times for commuters
  • reduce pollutant emission
  • employment - an estimated 7,000 direct and 15,000 indirect jobs will be created during the course of the project
Barriers and challenges
  • Metro line 3 has had limited to no community or citizen input.
  • metropolitan municipalities in Mexico have little influence in the decision-making process of projects managed by the national/regional government.
Lessons learned and transferability

In highly fragmented governance situations with strong “silo mentality”, metropolitan priorities run the risk to go by the wayside. Metropolitan governance needs to reflect a core vision between government, business and civil society (“what is to be accomplished?”) and a mission among the involved parties (“what needs to be done and how to get there?”) in order to have a chance to be enduring and produce successful outcomes for residents and businesses. Articulating and documenting the commitments that all parties are making is also essential. Leaders must maintain transparency and communications among the stakeholders and engage in active, adaptive decision-making.


External links / documents