Aerial cable-car systems for public transport in low-income urban areas : lessons from Medellin, Colombia
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In 2004 the first urban aerial cable-car public transport system was introduced in the city of Medellín, Colombia. The imaginative application of ski-slope technology to high-gradient, low-income urban areas attracted widespread attention from city authorities throughout Latin America, as well as Europe and Asia. However a second cable introduced in 2008 has had far less impact, confirming the suspicion that, to be worthwhile, cable-car systems require specific minimum conditions in terms of urban morphology and population density, as well as concerted complementary action by city authorities in order to ensure that mobility benefits help improve the living conditions, economic opportunities and social inclusion of the affected area populations. This paper outlines the technical and financial aspects of the cable-car systems employed in Medellin, and examines the urban conditions and planning considerations required to ensure the full integration and maximisation of social, economic and political benefits for catchment area populations, and provides pointers to successful application in other cities of the world.