Mexico City Subway & Public Transport Mexico (How to Speak Spanish There)

How is Public Transport in Mexico City? All the Spanish you need to get around!

What’s the subway in Mexico like? Fun fact: You might actually have seen it in a Hollywood movie… 

In this video, you will learn all the practical stuff and interesting facts about el metro de la ciudad de México (the Mexico City subway) You’ll learn all the Spanish you need to catch the subway in Mexico like a local and never get lost! 

I am Paulísima, Spring Spanish teacher and tu guía local del metro (your local metro guide) for this episode. 

¡Empezemos! (Let’s get started.) 

1. Numbers and history of Mexico City Subway 

In Mexico there is only a subway system in Mexico City, Guadalajara and Monterrey. 

Since I live in Mexico City, that’s the metro that I’m going to show you. I love it! De hecho, después de caminar, el metro es mi medio de transporte favorito. (Actually, after walking,  the metro is my preferred mode of transportation.)  Most of the places of interest in Mexico City can be reached by metro, so it is very likely that you end up riding it. 

The inaugural subway ride took place on September 4th 1969.)

The subway has twelve lines. Each line is identified by a name, number and a letter. The subway is used by an average of 4.6 million people daily. The metro has one hundred and ninety-five stations.

mexican city subway symbols

Each line only offers one service. Which I thought was the standard in the whole world, but I learned the hard way that it isn’t!

Cada estación, además de tener nombre, está identificada, tiene un ícono. (Each station, besides having a name, is identified by an icon.) They were designed by American graphic designer Lance Wyman who had also designed Mexico’s logo for the 1968 Olympics. 

¡No se tú, pero a mí se me hacen muy lindos! (I don’t know about you, but I think they’re very cute!) 

On July 12, 1982, Mexico City’s metro became the first transportation in the world which had female train drivers.

2. Buy a ticket and find your way in public transport Mexico

The ticket is five pesos. You can also buy this card, is called the Integrated Mobility Card, it costs fifteen pesos, and you can recharge them in these machines. Attention! They don’t accept credit cards!

I know!

¡No saben cuantas veces me he quejado de esto! (You have no idea how many times I have complained about this!) 

Insertamos la tarjeta aquí y luego ponemos el dinero aquí, aquí aquí. Confirmar.  Espere por favor. No retire su tarjeta y listo. (We insert the card here and then we put the money here, here here. Confirm. Wait, please. Don’t remove your card. And ready! ) 

This card also grants you access to other means of transportation such as el Metrobus or the Cablebus, that is new.) Actually I’m working on a video about other means of transportation. Let me know in the comments if you think I should go to the new teleférico

¡Atención por favor! When recharging your Tarjeta de Movilidad Integrada, look for these chunks:

  • Esta máquina no da cambio. (This machine doesn’t provide change.) 
  • No retire su tarjeta. (Do not remove card.)

Also, super important, in line 12, they only take la Tarjeta de Movilidad Integrada. Like, there are no tickets available! Who makes these decisions, people? 

Mexicans in general, are really nice and warm people, it’s not uncommon to ask people for help when for any reason you don’t have either cash, or a ticket, or the card. 

Disculpe, ¿me podría dejar pasar con su tarjeta? Es que solo tengo cash. 
(Excuse me, would please let me in with your card? It’s just that I only have cash.)

Claro que sí, pase.
(Of course, go ahead.)

Don’t be surprised if people ask you for this favor. If you have the possibility of helping, help! 

You might also find people who would ask you: 

¿Me regalas una moneda para completar para mi boleto, por favor?
(Would you please give me a coin to complete for my ticket, please?) 

You can always answer this or other kind of petitions with:

Ahorita no puedo, perdón. 
(Not right now, sorry.) 

You can also ask the guards for help. 

Oficial, no tengo nada de cambio.
(Officer, I don’t have any change.) 

Solo tengo tarjeta y la máquina solo acepta efectivo.
(I just have a card and the machine only takes cash.) 

Por fa, por fa, oficial déjame pasar no sea malito.
(Please, please, officer let me pass, don’t be mean.) 

No más esta vez oficial, porfis, porfis, déjeme pasar.
(Only this time officer, please, please, let me pass.) 

Or the other way around: 

Oficial, no tengo tarjeta, solo boleto.  Por favor, déjeme pasar oficial. Solamente esta vez. Ándele, no sea malito, déjeme pasar. 
(Officer, I don’t have a card, just a ticket. Please let me pass officer. Only this time. Oh, c’mon, don’t be mean, let me in.) 

En México, calling an uninformed person oficial is gonna win you extra points with them! Less and less people use this word in Mexico… I wonder why?

Maleducados. It literally translates as ill-educated or poorly-educated. The worst kind of maleducados are the reason why you want to avoid the metro during peak hours, they might steal your wallet or pinch your goodies. 

Locals will use their elbows to make their way through the crowds. And so should you. 

If you’re a woman or a child not older than twelve,  you can ride in the cars that are specifically intended for you. 

I strongly recommend riding in them, especially if you’re traveling during rush hour. 

Rush hours go from six to nine in the morning and from six to eight at night.

3. Take the metro to Bellas Artes

Supongamos que… quieres ir al Palacio de Bellas Artes… ¡vamos! (Suppose that… you want to go to the Palace of Fine Arts… let’s go!)

Supongamos que… no hay ningún mapa a la vista. (Suppose that… there’s no map on sight.)

We can ask the guards: 

Disculpe oficial, ¿un mapa?
(Excuse me, officer, a map?)

They might point you to one or tell you something like: 

Híjole señorita, no hay mapas.
(Oh no, miss, there are no maps.)


Los mapas están adentro.
(The maps are inside.)

So you might ask: 

Disculpe oficial, ¿para Bellas Artes? 
(Excuse me officer, to the Palace of Fine Arts?) 

Tiene que ir a Chabacano y de ahí transbordar a la línea azul con dirección Cuatro Caminos. 
(You have to go to Chabacano and from there change to the blue line towards Cuatro Caminos.) 


Estamos en Lázaro Cárdenas, nos podemos ir a Chabacano que tiene correspondencia con la línea azul y la verde y la café que es la nueve y de Chabacano nos vamos en dirección cuatro caminos hasta Bellas Artes. 
(We are in Lázaro Cárdenas, we can go to Chabacano that corresponds to the blue and the green line, as well as the brown line which is line 9. From Chabacano we go towards Cuatro Caminos to Bellas Artes.) 

Did you hear? Agarrar. Literally grab. We grab buses, vans, metro…. 

Here’s a word you might hear Mexicans using a lot when talking about moving around by metro. El transbordo (The connection.) That is the connecting passages between lines. The longest transbordo está en la estación Atlalilco (connection is in the Atlalilco station.) It is 880 meters long, that’s about half a mile, and it connects lines 8 and 12. 

In one of these transbordos (connections), the one located in station La Raza, there’s a permanent science exhibition, and it is just lovely! Check it out! 

Now, we’ve arrived to Bellas Artes. To expedite our way out, we can ask the guards:

  • Disculpe oficial, ¿de qué lado salgo para Bellas Artes? (Excuse me officer, which way to the Palace of Fine Arts?) 
  • Disculpe oficial, ¿de qué lado salgo para el Museo Franz Meyer? (Excuse me officer, which way to the Franz Meyer Museum?)

4. Fun facts 

Dentro del metro hay un museo dedicado… ¡al metro! En la estación Mixcoac de la línea 12 se encuentra el Museo del metro. 

(Inside the metro, there is a museum dedicated to… the metro! This museum is located in station Mixcoac, line 12.) 

In their collection, you can find some of the archeological pieces that were found during its construction. 

Si viste la película Total Recall,  (if you watched the movie Total Recall,) you have seen a couple of metro stations! Una de ellas es el metro Chabacano. ¡Exactamente! (One of them is metro Chabacano. Exactly!) The one that we just went to! And if you look closely in the video of Holding On by Disclosure, you’ll see station Oceanía! 

En las líneas uno, tres y siete ¡hay WiFi gratuito! (In lines uno, three and seven there’s free WiFi!) 

The first convoys of the metro were French! Just as the first series of tickets.

De hecho, ¡la mayor parte del presupuesto para construir el metro, vino de un crédito francés! La conexión francesa no termina ahí. (Actually, the vast majority of the budget to build the metro came from a French credit! The French connection doesn’t end there.) 

Dentro de la estación Pino Suárez, ¡hay una pirámide! Se llama pirámide de Ehecatl. (Inside station Pino Suárez, there is a pyramid! It’s called pyramid of Ehecatl.)

It’s actually the most seen archeological site in Mexico, with over 54 million people passing by it per year. It used to be part of a larger complex dedicated to the Aztec God of wind. Además, ¡en la estación Talismán se encontraron restos de un mamut!  (Also, in station Talismás they found the remains of a mamut!) 

¡Dentro del metro hay treinta y ocho murales! (There are 38 murals inside the metro!) 

Hay estaciones temáticas. (There are themed stations.) 

  • Una de mis favoritas es la estación Auditorio que está decorada con todo lo relacionado con la cultura de la Gran Bretaña e Irlanda.  (One of my favorites is Auditorio station, that is decorated with everything related to the culture of Grand Britain and Irleland.) 
  • Si quieres aprender sobre (If you want to learn about) Mexican boxing idols, go to station Garibalda/ Lagunilla. 
  • Si quieres aprender sobre (If you want to learn about) lucha libre, make sure you check out station Guerrero. 
  • Si quieres aprender sobre (If you want to learn about) Mexican cartoonists, Station Zapata, line 12 houses a gigantic collection of Mexican cartoons!

Since you’re visiting México City, you must go to el Zócalo. The Zócalo is the most important public plaza in my country, and it is located in main plaza/located in Centro Histórico. In the Zócalo metro station, there’s a really cool model of how the city center used to look before the Spaniards came to Mexico. Check it out! 

What happens if a dog is lost inside the subway? It will be sent to the Centro de Transferencia Canina, where they will take care of it until they find them a new home! 

Something I don’t like about the metro is that there are no garbage cans.  

No wait, it is not that I don’t like it. I hate it. Hate it! I hate that in the Mexico City subway, there aren’t any garbage cans! I mean.

There are plenty of vendors in the metro, you might hear them saying something: En esta ocasión, le vengo trayendo, le venimos ofreciendo… (In this occasion, I’m bringing you, we’re offering…) and they sell all kinds of things, stationary items, band-aids, chocolate bars but the most successful one, at least in my experience, is the one that sells earring backs.


They always manage to sell a few packages. They’re geniuses! 

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