Medellin MetroCable

14
Sep

2012

Weekly Roundup: Bolivia To (Officially) Build Largest Urban Cable Car Network

Conceptual Drawing of the La Paz Cable Car network. Image via Doppelmayr.

A quick look at some of the things that happened this week in the world of cable cars, urban gondolas, and cable propelled transit:

  • Bolivian President Evo Morales officially signs paperwork to build the world’s largest cable transit network. To be completed by 2014, the network of 3 lines will span 10.7 km and have 11 stations – for an all-in price of $235m. For those that are counting, that’s a per kilometre cost of less than $22m. If project managers and manufacturers are able to meet that aggressive timetable, it’s going to be increasingly difficult for transit professionals to ignore this technology’s impact and future potential.


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30
Aug

2011

Medellin to Build Two Urban Gondolas – Integrated Into A Light Rail Line!

Metro Medellin's planned LRT/Tram line (in green) and two new Metrocable lines (in Purple and Pink).

Metro de Medellin is in no rush to slow down.

The transit agency of this Colombian metropolis has been expanding their public transportation system at breakneck speeds for the past 15 years and things just continue apace.

The agency recently released plans for their Corredores Verdes (Green Corridor) Light Rail/Tram plan. Their approach is a three-pronged strategy to connect the western district of the city with downtown and includes:

  • An ~ 5 km long LRT/Tram system with 8 stops that terminates/originates at the central San Antonio Metro station. The connection to San Antonio will allow easy transfers to both Linea A and Linea B of their impeccably-operated elevated metro system.
  • Two Urban Gondola lines (Metrocables) serving hillside barrios. The lines will be ~ 1.5 km long and have three total stations each (two terminals and one intermediary station).

Of particular note is Medellin’s approach to ticketing along the route. If the agency’s promotional video is to be believed, the LRT system will adopt a technique created and popularized by Curitiba’s famed BRT system.

Rather than have LRT drivers deal with ticketing, on-vehicle ticketing agents or a policed honor-system, enclosed station platforms will be equipped with turnstiles allowing for people to pay their fare prior to queueing for the tram. This approach speeds boarding and increases efficiency dramatically:

Curitiba's BRT system - the first to pioneer enclosed platforms at street level with ticketing and turnstile features. Image via Wikipedia.

Medellin's planned LRT system appears to borrow the ticketing approach used by Curitiba. Image via Metro de Medellin.

Metro de Medellin is quickly gaining a reputation for being one of the most innovative transit planning bodies on the planet and this project should only solidify that reputation.

The agency is a poster-child for multi-modality and non-conventional thinking. With Medellin’s recent acquisition and expansion of the Metroplus bus service combined with the addition of the LRT/Tram, this agency will soon seamlessly blend four separate technology modes (Metro, LRT/Tram, Urban Gondola and BRT) in order to provide public transportation for 2.5 million people.

This is how you do multi-modality:



 



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03
Mar

2011

Panorama – Medellin Metrocable, Linea J


Metrocable de Medellin, Estación San Javier in Medellin

Thanks to Nick for sending along this link! The original, by Hermán David Muñoz can be viewed here.



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15
Feb

2011

Video: Urban Gondola Transit in Medellin

A great documentary report from Deutsche Welle on the Medellin Metrocable. Not only does it focus on the time-savings of the system, but also how Medellin’s system qualifies for carbon-trading schemes to offset O&M costs.

Thanks to Günther Ecker for passing along this link!



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23
Dec

2010

Dwell Times

Image by Steven Dale.

True story:

While I was touring the Caracas Metrocable earlier this year, myself and my guide were joined by an elderly gentleman in our gondola. Via my guide, I asked the man how he felt about the system. Did he like it? Any complaints?

He said he loved it – except for all the time the gondolas spend in the stations.

When I looked back at my records, it appears that the man had a point. During my tour of the system, I recorded end-to-end travel times of apx. 14 minutes. 5 of those minutes were spent in the three intermediary stations, meaning more than a third of the trip is spent in stations. Dwell times were roughly 1.5 minutes at each station.

Dwell times are something the cable industry isn’t adept at handling yet and that needs to change. Based upon conversations I’ve had with cable engineers, the consensus is that dwell times can be reduced down to 20-30 seconds. Given that such dwell times have been observed in large detachable chairlifts around the world, there’s no reason to believe this isn’t true.

But for whatever reason, the industry tends to install systems with station dwell times of a minute or more.

This wasn’t something unique to Caracas, either. I witnessed similar dwell times with both the Medellin and Caracas Metrocables, suggesting this issue isn’t company specific (Poma built the Medellin system, Doppelmayr the Caracas system).

My guess is that dwell times are not something the cable industry has really actively dealt with in the past. After all, most ski lifts are point-to-point installations. Dwell times simply don’t factor into the equation on most ski hills.

Furthermore, in a ski lift situation, you probably would want dwell times of 1-2 minutes. Given all the equipment, gear and clothing skiers require, more time is needed to board and alight – especially when you consider how slow people move in ski boots.

But we’re not talking about ski hills here. We’re talking about transit and most commuters don’t wear ski boots.



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22
Dec

2010

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.



Want more? Purchase Cable Car Confidential: The Essential Guide to Cable Cars, Urban Gondolas & Cable Propelled Transit and start learning about the world's fastest growing transportation technologies.

22
Oct

2010

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:

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