Posts Tagged: Medellin

15
Mar

2010

Medellin/Caracas, Part 4

Last week I travelled to Medellin, Colombia and Caracas, Venezuela to tour five of the most important CPT systems in the world. This is Part 4 where I discuss the Medellin Metrocable's Linea L - Cable Arvi. Image by Steven Dale.

Medellin’s third and most recent Cable Propelled Transit line is Linea L – Cable Arvi. It is only a few weeks old and transports the people of Medellin up through the mountains and all the way to Parque Arvi (pronouned “Ar-bee”), a new nature preserve a few kilometres from the city. The park and transit line are part of a social project to help bring country retreats and nature to the masses, a privilege normally reserved only for the wealthy.

Despite the preserve being incomplete in time for Linea L’s official opening, the line has witnessed huge crowds, particularly on weekends. Unlike Medellin’s previous two cable lines, Linea L requires an additional fare to ride. To access Linea L, passengers must disembark at the Santo Domingo terminal of Linea K and cross over to another station and board Linea L. So while Linea L is very much a part of Metro Medellin as a whole, it is not “fully integrated” per se.

Authorities felt this lack of full integration was a necessary sacrifice. At 4.8 kms in length, Linea L’s USD$25 million price tag was rather affordable, however, were it fully integrated into the Metro’s single-fare zone, Metro Medellin did not expect this line to pay for itself. This is due to the very accurate assessment that users of Linea L will consist largely of local tourists. Full-integration was, therefore not necessary.

Nevertheless, transfers are relatively hassle-free due to an elevated cross-over connecting the two lines, and the system seems no more outside the scope of Metro Medellin’s mandate than either of its previous two cable endeavors.

A passenger cross-over connects the Santo Domingo terminals of the Arbi Linea L (left) and Linea K (right). Image by Steven Dale.

A passenger cross-over connects the terminals of Arvi Linea L (left) and Linea K (right). Image by Steven Dale.

As Linea L just opened, much civil work surrounding the terminals is ongoing. Also: Notice the solar panel affixed to the roof of the gondola. This feature powers interior electronics within the vehicles and is becoming very standard on all urban cable transit systems. Image by Steven Dale.

Ascending Parque Arvi from Santo Domingo. Image by Steven Dale.

En Route to the Parque Arvi terminal. Image by Steven Dale.

En route to the Parque Arvi terminal. Image by Steven Dale.

The Parque Arvi terminal is an elegant play of glass, wood and steel meant to reference the forest setting. Image by Steven Dale.

The Parque Arvi terminal perfectly demonstrates how the station architecture of cable is separate from the infrastructure itself. Stations are simply shells and can be as small, large, creative or bland as people desire. Image by Steven Dale.

Taking advantage of the space afforded by the maintenance facility, park designers integrated a farmers' market at the Parque Arvi terminal. Image by Steven Dale.

The Arvi Linea L affords riders an unrivaled view of the entirety of Linea K. Image by Steven Dale.

Return to Part 3.

Move on to Part 5.



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14
Mar

2010

Medellin/Caracas, Part 3

Last week I travelled to Medellin, Colombia and Caracas, Venezuela to tour five of the most important CPT systems in the world. This is Part 3 where I discuss the Medellin Metrocable's Linea J. Image by Steven Dale.

LINEA J

Unlike Linea K of the Medellin Metrocable, Linea J is much more actively involved in Transit Oriented Development (TOD). Linea K served an existing and extremely dense neighborhood lacking in transit. Linea J serves the barrio of Vallejuelos and the La Aurora development that is in the process of building and expanding.

This means that Linea J does not suffer from the overcrowding common to Linea K. Queues for vehicles are rare, and even when they do occur in rush hours, they are usually voided within a few minutes. Like Linea K, stations are enormous due to topographical, social and security concerns.

Compared to Linea K, Linea J is something of a let-down. Stations are sparsely populated and overall impact on the community is less than that of Linea K. That is, however, somewhat unfair a judgement. Linea K brought transit to one of the most dense, impoverished and least serviced areas of all of Medellin. Linea K was about servicing a crisis, whereas Linea J is about planning for the future.

Linea K is also 2 years older than Linea J. People need time to adapt. Linea K was also the first, dramatic incursion of cable transit into a city. Linea J has an almost “been there, done that” feel to it. It’s simply impossible to impress in the way that Linea K does. There’s only one “first.”

Nevertheless, one has to look upon Linea J as a success. Splashes of colour pepper along Linea J’s route, a sure sign of progress that is dramatically apparent on Linea K. Stations – while underutilized – feel safe and at a length of 2.7 kms, one has to be impressed by the sizable increase in scale Linea J has accomplished over its predecessor, Linea K’s more modest 1.8 kms.

The views, however, are far more dramatic:

Image by Steven Dale.

A vehicle departs a Linea J Metrocable station. Image by Steven Dale.

Linea J serves the less dense barrio of Vallejeulos, resulting in less over-crowding. Image by Steven Dale.

Linea J serves the sprawling hill-top barrio of Vallejuelos. As the barrio does not have the population of other more notorious areas, overcrowding on Linea J is rare. Image by Steven Dale.

Like Linea K before it, Linea J is being used to stimulate local investment, infrastructure and construction in the long-abandoned barrios along its route. Image by Steven Dale.

The La Aurora Metrocable station (foreground) and development (background). Metrocable Linea J is seen as more than just transit. It is an act of city-building and Transit Oriented Development. Image by Steven Dale.

Rush hour queues are rare on Linea J. Image by Steven Dale.

Due to a lack of population density, much of the social infrastructure designed into the Linea J Metrocable stations (such as this plaza) sits unused. Image by Steven Dale.

Image by Steven Dale.

Like Linea K before it, Linea J is inspiring civic pride in barrios around which the Metrocable plies its route. Decorative murals and colour are becoming more common a sight to see. Image by Steven Dale.

Image by Steven Dale.

Notice how the few splashes of colour that exist within the barrio gently mirror the route of the Metrocable. This was a similar phenomenon observed in Santo Domingo along Linea K's route. Image by Steven Dale.

An unanticipated consequence of the Metrocable's success: An increasingly severe Gringo problem.

Return to Part 2.

Move on to Part 4.



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12
Mar

2010

Medellin/Caracas, Part 2

Last week I travelled to Medellin, Colombia and Caracas, Venezuela to tour five of the most important CPT systems in the world. This is Part 2 where I describe the turn-around cable transit caused in the impoverished and dangerous Medellin barrio of Santo Domingo. Image by Steven Dale

THE RETURN OF SANTO DOMINGO

A street merchant in Santo Domingo. Image by Steven Dale

Santo Domingo is an isolated barrio in the Colombian city of Medellin. Today it is a place of peace, calm and social progress. Twenty years ago, it was a type of living hell that the developed world can only imagine.

Crime was rampant, poverty high. Homes and businesses along Andalucia Street, the barrio’s main thoroughfare sat vacant. Landlords tried in vain to entice tenants with promises of zero rent, just so long as they paid the taxes and maintenance. They had few takers.

Few in the barrio had private transportation and the only form of public transit were the private bus cartels that infrequently plied the routes. A resident of Santo Domingo could expect to spend 2 – 2 1/2 hours commuting to work in the core each way.

Pablo Escobar, the most violent and successful drug lord the world’s ever seen, would’ve drawn many of his “troops” from this area. Protection money was a constant reality for area merchants and contractors were under the thumb of organized crime. In the ten years after Escobar’s death in 1993, things barely improved. Power abhors a vacuum, after all, and the resulting turf war between gangs trying to establish themselves as the new Escobar only made things worse. Residents wouldn’t leave their homes after dark as the threat of incident wasn’t just possible, it was likely.

Image by Steven Dale.

Police, even, wouldn’t dare to enter Santo Domingo.

Then something curious happened . . .

In the early 2000’s, Metro Medellin (the city’s transit authority) began talking about connecting Santo Domingo to the Metro system via gondola. The idea was laughed off as nothing more than a pipe dream.

Area residents had heard the promises before. Politicians would make their promises to grab the most number of votes and then forget the promises they’d originally made.

Those in government just thought the idea of a ski lift as transit was absurd.

Nevertheless, after four years of community development around the idea (and one potential supplier dropping out due to security concerns), the Colombian and Medellin governments ponied up USD$26 million (a huge sum for those governments) and allowed Metro Medellin to build the world’s first Metrocable.

To say the least, the results were surprising.

Even before the system opened, systemic change was witnessed. Contractors who had grown accustomed to their building supplies being stolen at night experienced no such thing. When such an incident did happen, the locals were more than happy to rat out the perpetrators. For once in their lives, the residents of Santo Domingo saw their government doing something for them rather than to them and Santo Domingo wanted to return the favour.

Within two years, the Metrocable opened and would herald a new era for the residents of Santo Domingo and Medellin in general.

Today, Santo Domingo is a place of relative peace. Andalucia Street is flooded with children, retirees, street merchants and commerce. The Metrocable did what no military, police force or politician could do; it brought the community back to life.

A young couple descends a terraced hill of stairs in Santo Domingo. Image by Steven Dale.

Santo Domingo from above. Image by Steven Dale.

Santo Domingo from below. Image by Steven Dale.

Image by Steven Dale.

A Bancovia branch, 1 of 3 new banks that have opened in Santo Domingo since the Metrocable opened. Image by Steven Dale.

The Metrocable reduced traffic so much that city planners reclaimed 1 lane of traffic and turned it into a pedestrianized lane of traffic. Image by Steven Dale.

Gondolas depart and approach the Acevedo Metro transfer station and the base of Andalucia Street. Image by Steven Dale.

Image by Steven Dale.

For security reasons, police and military are a common sight in the area. Image by Steven Dale.

Santo Domingo. Image by Steven Dale.

Return to Part 1.

Move on to Part 3.



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09
Mar

2010

A Lesson From Medellin

Even in Medellin the Not Over My Backyard rule applies.

Andrés Uribe and Theo Kruk, two executives with Metro Medellin witnessed that very problem. Though Metro Medellin was ultimately successful at building their Metrocable line (with significant portions of it traveling over people’s homes) there was initial concern from locals in the barrio of Santo Domingo which the Metrocable was to serve.

But when locals realized their property would likely increase in value and some people’s property would be flat out purchased at an inflated price (due to government expropriation), it became an easier sell. But remember: This was in Santo Domingo, a severely impoverished area of Medellin.

“You could never (fly over people’s homes) in a more wealthy neighborhood,” Kruk told me.

Flying over people’s property is a difficult proposition from a socio-political standpoint and should be avoided. It will annoy residents and might lead to delays and increased costs.

Just don’t do it. Every city has a myriad of public spaces that are ideally suited to cable: Roads, highways, rivers, parks, public space. Those are the spaces one should use cable in. One of the lessons of Medellin and Santo Domingo is the hugely positive change that comes from hewing to existing arteries, roads and causeways. Counter to initial thinking, a gondola system running overtop of an existing road increases civic pride, local investment, commerce and business. It creates positive feedback.

Do it there, and it will turn out beautifully.



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08
Mar

2010

Medellin/Caracas!!!

Image by Steven Dale

Tune in Wednesday for the start of The Gondola Project’s first photo essay: Medellin/Caracas.

I’ve just returned from Medellin, Colombia and Caracas, Venezuela where I toured five of the most important systems in all of cable transit. Two of them just opened mere weeks ago. There’s so much to say, this series could go on for a while. To be honest, I don’t know how long, but I suspect at least a couple of weeks.

Cable transit’s here . . . in a big way. See you Wednesday!



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27
Nov

2009

Medellin MetroCable

The MetroCable in Medellin, Columbia is a fascinating example of Cable-Propelled Transit. It is one of the most important CPT installations in the world, particularly because it is fully integrated into the transit system. I use the term full integration to describe cable systems that allow for seamless movement between different modes of public transit without need of additional fares (a quality sorely lacking in the Portland Aerial Tram and Roosevelt Island Tram).

The MetroCable has been so successful, it has spawned a second line and plans are underway for a third.  This youtube video should get you up to speed on it:



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