Post by Gondola Project
La Paz-El Alto’s newest Cable Propelled Transit (CPT) system, the Blue Line (Línea Azul), opened for passenger service last Friday and has already surpassed initial projections during its maiden voyage. During the weekend, the urban cable car hit a peak day ridership of 41,000 persons and has directly boosted passenger levels on the Red Line (Línea Roja) by 15%.
At this rate, the Doppelmayr-built Blue Line may likely add 20,000 – 40,000 daily passengers to the entire Mi Teleférico network each day — thereby single-handedly increasing overall network ridership by up to 50% from current passenger numbers (existing: 80,000 – 100,000 daily riders).
A cursory analysis and comparison of La Paz to other rapid transit lines in North America indicates that only five other light rail systems (i.e. Calgary, Toronto, Guadalajara, Boston, Los Angeles) would have a higher daily ridership than Mi Teleférico.
Arguably, since Toronto’s “light rail system” is really more a “streetcar” network, this means that only four North American LRT systems see larger daily ridership figures. However, it is important to keep in mind that these light rail networks are 60-650% longer than Mi Teleférico and have up to 4.5x more stations.
From an average daily boardings per mile perspective, this is where the La Paz-El Alto’s system truly shines. Mi Teleférico on average transports ~13,000 – 15,000 passengers/mile. Compared to North American LRTs, La Paz would rank 2nd after Mexico’s Guadalajara Light Rail. And if La Paz was measured against all rapid transit systems in North America, Mi Teleférico would actually break the top ten list, ranking 9th just ahead of Santo Domingo’s metro line!
Passenger Boardings Per Mile (North America and La Paz)
|System||Country||Length (miles)||Year Opened||Stations||Lines||Avg Daily Boarding Per Mile|
|New York City Subway||USA||232||1904||468||24||39,055|
|Mexico City Metro||Mexico||141||1969||195||12||30,603|
|Guadalajara Light Rail||Mexico||14.9||1989||29||2||17,790|
|Mi Teleférico||Bolivia||9.3||2014||16||4||13,000 - 15,000|
|Santo Domingo Metro||Dominican Republic||17||2009||30||2||10,461|
Note: Guadalajara Light Rail added to Wikipedia’s “List of North American rapid transit systems by ridership” in table above to allow for comparison of all rapid transit and not just Metro systems.
Some readers will likely argue that these are unfair comparisons since the landscape and modal split for North American and South American cities are different. While this might be true to a certain degree, this brief analysis reinforces that urban cable transit is no longer a fringe technology that’s incapable of operating as a reliable mass transit system.
On the contrary, Mi Teleférico demonstrates that when properly implemented, urban gondolas can quickly enhance and complement existing public transit networks.
With this fantastic reception, manager of the state-owned ropeway system reiterated that the entire urban gondola network has achieved economic self-sufficiency — a goal rarely achieved by mass transit systems. Overall, as the city’s transport system modernizes, officials are diligently monitoring the system’s performance to ensure maximum reliability, safety and comfort.