The Bolivian city of La Paz developed a cable car line network to escape road traffic. The system employed in La Paz, Mi Teleférico, makes use of cable car lifts to connect the various areas of the city. By the end of 2014 three lines opened marked by different colors, red, yellow and green. The first two connecting la Paz with the neighboring city de El Alto for a total length of 10km for the first phase and the third line envisions the construction of seven additional lines adding 20 more km of lines.
Traffic in crowded cities is a problem all over the world that poses a huge challenge for fast growing metropolis in the developing world, but does not spare developed cities. Several solutions have been tried to reduce vehicles circulations on roads, by promoting public transport and more specifically to develop underground lines to move under the surface. Differently form trams and buses, underground trains do not have to share the road with other vehicles. But this solutions could not always be affordable or feasible for economical or geographical reasons. The Bolivian executive seat of La Paz (located in the Andes Region) is built over a hilly and mountainous ground and suffers from serious traffic problems, not solved by its minibus network the city opted for the opposite solution; instead of underground it established an overground transport network.
A more ambitious project then Mi Teleférico is the experimental SkyTran, a system employing magnetic levitation pods moving along a monorail (Read the article on Revolve Media here.) . A 274 meters experimental track has been developed on the campus of Israel Aerospace Industries of Tel Aviv in late 2015. The company announced that by end of 2016 it will start the construction of a 40 km long track in Lagos, the Nigerian Capital, a city with the surface of New York but with twice its population.
Cable car lines have the advantage of being a cheap solution to ease traffic problems, they are easy to build and suited to cross rivers and mountains. River crossing has stimulated cities such as New York or Paris to study similar projects, for example to connect two train stations divided by the Seine and Brooklyn to Manhattan. Furthermore it allows lift makers to enjoy new business opportunities after the saturation of sky resort areas.
There are downsides however since cable cars allow only a limited amount of passengers to be transported compared to underground and are more affected by bad weather. Their continuous use requires regular maintenance which would badly affect circulation if protracted. Extended networks like in La Paz could not be suited for every town, but by adopting an holistic approach to make cities more habitable and mobility more sustainable, cable cars can provide a welcomed addition as part of a broader and integrated transport system.
Writer: Edoardo de Silva