Moscow Inaugurates New Urban Gondola — Sparrow Hills Cable Car

Sparrow Hills Cable Car gracefully glides across the Moskva River. Image by

After construction began in May 2017, Moscow’s first urban gondola — the Sparrow Hills Cable Car (Russian: Канатная дорога на Воробьёвых горах) — has finally opened to the public. The ropeway was slated to commence operations alongside World Cup celebrations but it unfortunately experienced several delays. Citizens have been waiting patiently for the revival of an aerial lift at Sparrow Hills since a former chairlift was dismantled in 2016.

The system is designed to cross the Moskva River and connect to three visitor areas which include Luzhniki Stadium, New League/Kosygina and Sparrow Hills. On its first day, the 737m long cable car was visited by the city’s mayor who announced that the system will be free to ride for its first month. Thirty-five 8-person cabins will offer a capacity of 1,600 pphpd to riders. Trip times will be reduced to just five minutes compared to 15 minutes by road.

As a purely recreational system, the cable car has introduced several important elements to attract tourists. At Sparrow Hills — one of the highest points in Moscow — riders have direct access to an observation deck which provides visitors with panoramic views of the capital.

Luzhniki Stadium station is located next to the national stadium of Russia — one of the biggest arenas in Europe with a capacity of 80,000+. Image by NearEMPTiness.

View of cable car looking towards Sparrow Hill. Image by Near EMPTiness.

Passengers can either choose to ride a “visitor” route (Luzhniki Stadium to Sparrow Hills) or a “sports” route (Luzhniki Stadium to New League). At the New League mid-station, visitors will be able to rent skiing and snowboarding equipment. However, tourists will have wait until February 2019 before the “sports” route is opened.

To enable easier transfers for cyclists, cabins are equipped with bike racks. Inside the carriers, free audio guides in four different languages are available for those interested in learning about their surroundings. For those looking to enhance their travel experience, two 4-person VIP cabins with leather seats can be booked while every station is designed with a souvenir store and cafes.

VIP cabins are a popular way to celebrate special events and occasions. Image by stroimos.

To encourage greater ridership during non-peak travel times, the system operators have opted to implement a dynamic fare structure where weekday passenger tickets are less expensive than weekend tickets. A one-way fare for adults starts at US$6.00 (400 rubles) from Monday to Friday and US$7.50 (500 rubles) on Saturdays and Sundays. Seniors, children and large groups are offered discounted tickets and payment can even be made with the local transit card, Troika.

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System Dossier: Puebla Aerial Tram

Teleferico de Puebla. Image by S. Alexis.

With a population of more than 3.2 million residents, Puebla City is the fourth largest metropolis in Mexico and is the capital of Puebla state. Strategically located in the nation’s central region (about 2 hours drive from Mexico City), Puebla is rich in history and culture which helped it become 1 of 35 World Heritage Sites in the country.

To increase its tourist offerings, the city opened the Puebla Aerial Tram (Spanish: Teleférico de Puebla) in January 2016 to provide visitors with stunning panoramic views of its natural and urban landscape. The aerial tram, built with two 35-passenger cabins, connects the historically significant old military Forts of Loreto and Guadelupe (near the Zaragoza monument) and the new Exhibition/Convention Center.

One of the interesting design features of the ropeway is that the system’s terminals function both as a passenger station and as a tower — and therefore, have no intermediate towers between its 688m long route. For the station located near the Zaragoza monument (Fort station), passengers ascend 48m via an elevator before arriving at platform level. On the Exhibition Center side, the “station tower” is even taller at 58m.

Looking towards the 48m tall Fort station which is built with concrete. Image by Luis Alvaz.

Closer look at Fort Station (48m). Teleferico de Puebla. Image by Luis Alvaz.

Looking towards Exhibition Center station. Image by Luiz Alvaz.

As the cable lift soars above the entire city, riders can view the world’s largest urban mural and catch glimpses of the two nearby massive active volcanoes (Iztaccihuatl – 5,286m and Popocatepelt – 5,500m). As a tourist system, passengers are accompanied by a friendly guide in the cabin. To complete the visitor experience, the ropeway is located adjacent to other major attractions such as the Museum of Evolution, a planetarium and the Cable Car Park. Ticket-wise, prices are reasonably priced at US$1.50 (one-way) and US$2.50 (roundtrip).

While the system has proved popular with tourists, attracting 500,000 to 752,000 per year, the project was not completed without controversy. The system’s opening was delayed for a year and the final construction cost was more than 100% over budget.

Nevertheless, the aerial tram’s impressive design and unique ride experience makes it a top attraction in Puebla.

Year opened 2016
Length (km) 0.68
Capacity (pphpd) 692
Speed (m/s) 7.0
Fare one-way (US) $1.50


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Experience Three of La Paz’s Newest Urban Gondolas

White Line travelling along road median. Screenshot from Youtube (cul tumbres).

With the opening of the Purple Line, La Paz has completed all of its urban gondolas for 2018. In just one year, the city constructed three urban cable car lines — the White Line, Sky Blue Line and the Purple Line — with a total of 11 stations and 9.9km (6.15mi) of cable.

This meant that 2018 was the second busiest year for urban gondola construction since 10km (6.21mi) of ropeways initially opened in 2014 (Red Line, Yellow Line and Green Line). As we’ve mentioned in previous posts, the system is continuing to set new records as it delivered more than 318,500 passengers in one day.

Unfortunately, being able to experience the world’s largest urban gondola network remains elusive — especially for North Americans and Europeans — since there are no direct flights to La Paz from outside of South America.

Luckily, many users have uploaded videos of their journeys onboard the newest gondolas and readers have sent us some of the videos they’ve found online.

It’s obviously not the same as experiencing the ropeways in person, but it probably the closest we can get for now. For us, our favourite new system is the White Line especially as it travels along the median of Busch Avenue between Triangular Station and Villaroel Station. The experience of flying through a dense urban environment is almost unreal and one of the relatively untapped design solutions that should find more application in the future.

If you watch the videos, be sure to let us know what you’re favourite new system is in La Paz in the comment section below or find us on Facebook

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La Paz Breaks Ridership Record With 318,500 Passengers

Image by Mi Teleferico.

A new milestone was set last week when La Paz’s urban gondola network, Mi Teleférico, reached 318,532 passengers in a single day.

Regardless of what you might think of Cable Propelled Transit (CPT), these numbers are nothing short of impressive. To put it into perspective, just four years ago, this rugged Bolivian city had zero fixed-link transit lines. But today, it has proven that it can transport the same amount of daily riders, if not more, than the average North American light rail system. As we speak, an average of 250,000 riders per day ride eight urban gondola lines spanning 27.2km (16.9mi).

In fact, just this week, the newly minted Purple Line (opened September 28) reached a million riders in just 20 days — averaging 50,000 passengers per day.

A quick comparative analysis reveals just how much praise La Paz should receive. Based on the numbers from Wikipedia, only three North American “LRT” systems have more passengers per day on average than La Paz — all of which are located outside the US. In other words, there are zero American light rail lines that carry more riders than La Paz. The closest system is the Metro Rail in Los Angeles with 219,900 passengers per day.

On a passengers per mile basis, La Paz shines equally as bright. Except for Guadalajara’s light rail, no LRT system comes close to La Paz. Compared to US light rail lines, Mi Teleférico has 70% more passengers per mile on an average than Boston’s MBTA.

For die-hard critics of the technology, such robust figures makes it harder and harder to claim that ropeway systems are incapable of being “real” public transit. In fact, if Mi Teleférico’s daily rider record was compared to major North American rapid transit lines, like the Chicago L, the BART, and the Skytrain, it would be North America’s 12th busiest rapid transit line — outpacing major transit systems such as SEPTA (Philadelphia), PATH (NY/NJ), and MARTA (Atlanta).

Perhaps the most incredible thing is that the system is not fully complete. Another 5.5km (3.4mi) of urban ropeways are scheduled to open within the next two years which means that more new records will be set.

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La Paz Cable Cars Named World’s Most Spectacular Public Transit System

The Yellow Line was one of the first three cable cars to open in 2014. Image by Dan Lundberg.

Mi Teleférico, the world’s largest network of urban gondolas, is continuing to capture the public’s imagination. This week one of the UK’s top newspapers, the Daily Telegraph, described La Paz’s ropeway system as the world’s spectacular transit system.

With eight lines now operating throughout the city, the 27.2km network is estimated to transport over 250,000 passengers per day — that’s 30,000 more riders than America’s busiest LRT system, the Metro Rail in Los Angeles.

The Telegraph’s correspondent, Chris Moss, gave readers a fascinating first-hand account of how the cable cars have transformed the way locals travel in the city. He notes that the three cable cars connecting to the historically marginalized city of El Alto has promoted greater integration between the two communities. In effect, some residents have become tourists in their own cities, venturing into areas that were once deemed too dangerous and/or too remote.

The Red Line was La Paz’s first urban ropeway and was the first to link to El Alto. Image by David Almeida.

Irpawi Station (pictured above) is the Green Line’s eastern terminus. It will be connected to the upcoming Gold Line by 2020. Image by EEJCC.

While Moss floated above La Paz at 18km/h, he amusingly described how he felt like a godly being, watching down on the poor souls stuck in the city’s narrow and congested roadways.

Thanks to the incredible success of the system, transportation specialists are flocking to the city to learn about how urban gondola technology could transform their rapid transit network. System operators even interviewed a traffic engineer last week from Zimbabwe who gave the system a rave review.

The potential to use cost-effective and quick-to-build urban ropeways in developing African cities is a massive opportunity that’s still untapped.

Smart Dumba, traffic engineer from Zimbabwe, tours the cable car system. Image from Mi Teleferico.

In addition, delegates from Germany, including the Federal Minister for Transport, Building and Urban Development (Wolfgang Tiefensee) arrived in La Paz last week to personally witness the urban gondolas. This may be a sign of things to come in Western Europe as many cities are now actively exploring the feasibility of building urban cable cars.

Next year will be another momentous one for Mi Teleférico as two more cable car lines, the Brown Line and the Silver Line, are scheduled to open. The massive construction project will culminate with the opening of the Gold Line in 2020.

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La Paz Officially Opens 8th Urban Gondola — The Purple Line

Purple Line spans 4.3km and connects El Alto and La Paz. Image from Mi Teleferico.

Thousands of people in La Paz and El Alto lined the streets on September 28 to celebrate the official opening of the Purple Line (Spanish: Linea Morada). After system construction began back in February 2016, the highly anticipated urban gondola is now finally ready. The cable car’s inauguration marks the city’s 8th urban ropeway and is considered one of the network’s most important lines for a number of reasons.

Firstly, it represents a sizeable technological upgrade because the Purple Line operates at higher speeds (6m/s) and capacities (4,000 pphpd) than most of the existing lines (e.g. Red Line, Green Line, Yellow Line, Blue Line, Orange Line and White Line). Improved performance capabilities will lead to faster travel times and therefore, hopefully lower wait times during peak travel times.

Secondly, the Purple Line represents the commitment that the government has made modernizing its public transit network, reducing traffic congestion and sparking economic development. Since the system’s western terminus, 6 de Marzo, is located immediately next to the international airport, it will provide users with a direct rapid transit connection to the city center.

Socially, the entire Mi Teleférico network has transformed the way people travel throughout the city. For instance, the cable cars have been instrumental to improving mobility for the less fortunate as 80% of its riders earn less than US$300 per month (Bs2000). In addition, its preferential card provides mobility-impaired riders with a 50% discount on all travel.

Image by Mi Teleferico.

Lastly but most importantly, the Purple Line represents a symbolic and physical unification of El Alto and La Paz — a metropolitan region of almost two million inhabitants. Historically and to this day, El Alto is a poor, and rapidly growing area that is considered the most populous indigenous city in the Americas. As it sits 4000m above sea level and overlooks La Paz, residents of El Alto have had to face long commutes into La Paz for work.

But thanks to the Purple Line, travel times from El Alto into La Paz will only be 8 to 16 minutes (depending on which station a passenger finally disembarks from). One of the strange quirks about the Purple Line is that the line is designed and operated into two separate sections. In other words, unlike the other gondola lines with a mid-station where riders can remain in their cabins to continue to journey to the next station, Purple Line riders must unload from one section of the gondola line at the Faro Marillo mid-station before transferring to the other section at the same mid-station.

In any event, Mi Teleferico staff does not believe this minor inconvenience will have any effects on ridership as the Purple Line is expected to the network’s busiest line with more than 80,000 estimated daily passengers. This is approximately 2 to 4 times the ridership amongst existing urban gondola lines in La Paz — and compared other North American transit lines, the Purple Line may have a higher passengers per mile ranking (30,000 passengers per mile) than any LRT in Canada and America.

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La Paz’s 8th Urban Gondola, The Purple Line, Receives Its First Passenger

Purple Line. Image by Mi Teleférico.

In a span of just five years, La Paz has built over 27km (16.2mi) of rapid transit. That’s faster or nearly the same amount of time it takes to complete infrastructure review processes in some North American jurisdictions.

The new Purple Line (Spanish: Línea Morada) which saw its first passenger on Thursday last week marks the third line that directly connects El Alto and La Paz (after the Yellow Line and Red Line) and the second “next-generation” gondola in the Bolivian city (after the Sky Blue Line).

This means that unlike some of the previous cable cars (e.g. Red, Green, Yellow, Blue, Orange and White), the new 4.3km urban cable car has upgraded performance abilities with capacities reaching 4,000 passengers per hour per direction (pphpd) and speeds of 6m/s.

Comparatively speaking, most of the older systems operate with capacities of a thousand persons less and speeds of 1m/s less than the Purple Line.

President Morales once again became the first passenger to board the Purple Line. Image by Cesar Dockweiler.

Purple Line. Image by ATB.

The speed of implementation is mind-boggling at times as some readers might remember that the Sky Blue Line (Spanish: Línea Celeste) was inaugurated less than 30 days ago. For planners who work in North America, it can be hard to imagine how a city can construct so many new rapid transit lines in such short period of time.

Without a doubt, this is a testament to the professionalism of both local decision-makers and the ropeway manufacturer, Doppelmayr, to consistently meet their deadlines and commitments.

Master plan for all 11 urban gondola lines. Image from Mi Teleferico.

With the Purple Line, residents can travel the entire stretch system in just eight minutes. However, the system will be somewhat of an “orphaned” line for about half a year until it the Silver Line (Spanish: Línea Plateada) is opened sometime in Spring 2019. Once that happens, it will significantly enhance connectivity and allow Purple Line passengers to transfer to the rest of the network via the Blue Line, Red Line, and the Yellow Line.

Readers should note that while President Morales has ridden the cable car, the system will not be officially inaugurated for commercial operations until September 26. During his speech, the President promised to construct even more cable car lines to continue improving the lives of its residents.

It’s not clear what that means at this time, but the entire planned network (Spanish: Red de Integracion Metropolitana) is now over 80% and less than 6km (3.7mi) of cable cars are left.

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