Constantine Telepherique



System Dossier: Constantine Cable Car (Télécabine de Constantine)

Constantine Cable Car. Image by Flickr user Bilouk Bilouk

Constantine Cable Car. Image by Flickr user Bilouk Bilouk

The mountainous terrain of Algeria poses a unique challenge for urban planners and developers. To solve this problem, several Cable Propelled Transit (CPT) systems have been built in Algerian cities throughout the country. These include ropeway systems in Algiers, Skikda, Tlemcen and Constantine. The installation of these gondola networks has been crucial to improving traffic flow and mitigating vehicular congestion.

In particular, Constantine has experienced great success with its urban cable car. Known as the City of Bridges, the municipality has built numerous overpasses to improve connectivity throughout the city’s challenging terrain. However, with rapid growth in the city, many of the existing bridges became overwhelmed. After much contemplation by city officials, the plan to construct the Constantine Cable Car (French: Télécabine de Constantine) was finally conceived in late 2006, and by June 2008, the system opened to the public.

Constantine Cable Car. Image by Flickr user Bilouk Bilouk

Constantine Cable Car. Image by Flickr user Bilouk Bilouk

With the arrival of the gondola, 100,000 residents in the city’s northern quarters were benefitted alongside 5,000 hospital workers.

The Constantine Cable Car is an MDG system built by the Doppelmayr Garaventa Group that transports passengers across the Rhumel Gorge. The system was designed with thirty-three 15-person cabins and an initial capacity of 2,000 pphpd. However, the capacity is expandable to 2,400 pphpd should passenger flows increase in the future.

The cable car makes 3 stops along its 7-minute journey: Terrain Tannoudji, Ben Badis Hospital, and Place Tatache. Since opening, the cable car has been an incredible success carrying 4.5 million passengers in its first year of operation and reaching 12 million passengers by 2012. This urban gondola is another example of how a CPT system can effectively enhance and complement a city’s existing infrastructure network.

Year opened 2008
Length (km) 1.63
Trip time (minutes) 7
Capacity (pphpd) 2,000 (expandable to 2,400)
Speed (m/s) 6.0


Technology overview:

Related Posts:

System Images:



Video: Urban Gondola Transit In Algeria

I spent the better part of a morning trying to track down an embeddable (let’s just pretend that’s a word, okay?) version of this news report on the urban gondolas in Algeria. Unfortunately, my search was in vain.

Nevertheless, you should certainly check it out. Unfortunately it’s all in German (no offense to our German-speaking readers). Yet despite that, it has some of the best video footage of the Algerian gondolas I’ve ever seen.

And given the fact that the politics in North Africa are – shall we say – complex, I highly doubt we’ll see many more videos of this quality in the near future. A shame, because these look like truly fascinating systems!

A few stray observations:

  • Strong physical integration between bus and gondola stations (0:19).
  • Beautiful (1:04).
  • While the tower is certainly no work of art, it doesn’t impose on the streetscape as one might expect (2:15).
  • It would be interesting to know what reaction the tenants of that apartment building think of the system (3:15).
  • The station is positively modest in its interaction with the surrounding urban fabric (3:25).


The Problem With Metrocables

Getting people to experience systems like the Medellin Metrocable will be one of the cable industry's big challenges in the coming years. Image by gab.

There’s no nice way to say this, but here goes:

Had the Metrocables of Medellin and Venezuela been built in a place like Denver, Copenhagen or Zurich, this conversation about cable transit would be entirely different than it is now. Cities would be building these things faster than the industry could keep up.

We wouldn’t even need this site, to be completely honest.

One of the first things a planner, policy-maker or politician has to do before implementing any radical new idea is to witness it first hand. Similarly, a journalist needs to experience something up close to effectively comment upon it.

That first-person encounter with a new idea, technology or innovation can change people’s perception in an instant. When one sees, feels, touches and experiences something up-close and in-person, it is in that moment when a person’s mind can be changed.

In other words, for the right people to get cable transit they need to experience cable transit.

But that’s very, very difficult with world affairs such as they are:

  • Given the constant strain between the Venezuelan and United States governments, no American politician (or American-friendly politician) is going to be caught dead traveling to Caracas to explore a transit system with an explicit socialist bent to it. Better luck getting them to visit Cuba.
  • Algeria only recently emerged from a decade civil war that claimed tens of thousands of lives. Parts of the country are still ‘no-go’ zones. It’s also predominantly Muslim. That presents a problem in a post-9/11 world.
  • Colombia has relapsed into violence and the U.S. State Department has issued an updated travel warning saying that violent crime is up in some major Colombian cities, including Medellín.
  • Favelas targeted for Metrocables in Rio have erupted in violence, delaying openings. Even when the World Cup and Olympics finally arrive in Rio, how many upper-middle-class sports tourists will trek off-the-beaten path into the favelas just to witness a gondola?

Do any of these places look like desired destinations for city councillors, policy wonks, or transit administrators? Probably not.

Trouble is, these are the only four places where urban gondolas have truly been integrated into the local transit network. These are the four places that any planner or politician interested in cable needs to see.

But most likely they won’t. This is one of the biggest challenges the cable industry faces right now.

Yes, the industry has demonstrated that they deserve to be part of the public transit family, but they’ve not been able to leverage that demonstration on a global stage which primarily takes the form of American and Western European cities and media.

How the industry navigates this current challenge will likely determine cable transit’s future for a very long time to come.



The 7 Most Important Aerial Cable Systems In The World (For Various Reasons)

Others might disagree with my selection, but if you’re new to the world of Cable Propelled Transit (CPT) and Urban Gondolas, these are the 7 aerial systems you need to know about:

Read more



Telecabine de Constantine

I’m traveling today and am out of internet contact (why can’t more airlines fix that problem?), so we’re going to watch a video (like when your high school history teacher was sick with strep throat)

It’s short, it’s in French, and it should inspire the transit wonk in all of you (especially starting at 0:56).  Enjoy:

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