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Mexico City Restricts Cars During Smog Crisis

March 31, 2016

Officials in Mexico City announced Wednesday that all cars are temporarily restricted from the road one day a week as the city faces its worst air-quality crisis in over a decade.

The city currently restricts vehicles from the road on weekdays depending on the last digit of their license plates, but exempted certain vehicles from the program if they were identified as lower-emission. However, city officials have announced that restrictions will be temporarily extended to all vehicles regardless of emission-level, AP reports.

The measure goes into effect Tuesday and will run until June 30, when Mexico City's dry season ends and summer rains typically improve the region's air quality. The commission also extended the restrictions, barring vehicles from the road one Saturday a month, and lowered the threshold at which alerts will be declared. More modern technology will be put in place at smog-check centers as well to prevent bribes.

Mexico City declared a Phase 1 emergency due to high ozone levels two weeks ago for the first time since 2005. Authorities announced a pollution index of 108 on Wednesday which, while still unhealthy, is about half of the index levels recorded at the peak of the Phase 1 alert.

Federal Environment Secretary Rafael Pacchiano said that authorities are working on long- and medium-term solutions to this crisis such as improved public transportation.

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