Posts Tagged: Bogota



Bogota’s Cable Cars – Learning, but Not Duplicating

Post by Mauricio Miranda.

Bogota will try to learn from one of the most successful urban cable car stories by attempting to emulate Medellin’s achievements.

Residents in Colombia’s capital city still encounter shockingly long and uncomfortable commutes despite the extensiveness its world renowned TransMilenio BRT system.

TransMilenio BRT. Image by Flickr user mariordo59.

But if there has been something that we have advocated here at the Gondola Project, it is the belief that no technology is a cure all solution for all transport challenges — especially when a major urban center has nearly 8 million residents.

Bogota seems to be in the extremes of the spectrum in terms of urbanism and mobility — the city has probably been praised as much as it has been condemned. Former mayor Enrique Peñalosa and true urbanism enthusiast (the man who also advocated for TransMilenio) was able to retake sidewalks from parked cars and convert them into vibrant public spaces.

The pedestrian experience improved and so made way for the expansion of sidewalks and the construction of more than 300 km of bikeways in the whole city. It is such an important mobility feature in Bogota that every Sunday, major avenues are closed for bikes, roller bladders, and all non-motorized means to take the street and enjoy the city in a healthy and fun way.

Sunday Streets in Bogota. Image by Flickr user Saúl Ortega.

These changes came more than fifteen years ago. The population of Bogota then was near the six million mark; today there has been a 25% increase. Unfortunately since then no major transportation projects have been built. And if you ask anyone (driver or transit user) what their commute experience is, there is just one answer — sheer chaos.

This is a problem that is citywide and it affects every single citizen. However, lower income residents have an even tougher time trying to travel to and from amenities, especially because they live on the hillsides where much of the transit service is inaccessible or inconvenient.

The local government was determined to solve this particular problem and has decided to follow Medellin’s footsteps by introducing two cable car lines in these marginalized areas. This comes as result of the realization that given the large size of the city and its different topographical characteristics, an integrated system of different technologies must be put in place — BRT, HRT and of course Cable Propelled Transit (CPT).

Between the two ‘CableBogota’ (as it is currently is called) lines, the system will be 7.2 km in length, with 7 stations, 60 towers and have 38,000 square metres of public space. The first line is referred as the Ciudad Bolivar line, and the second is referred as San Cristobal. These lines are saving on average more than two hours daily on commuting to the riders affected.

Line Profile - Cable Aereo Ciudad Bolivar. Image from  Caracol.

Line Profile – Cable Aereo Ciudad Bolivar. Image from Caracol.

The travel time from the Portal Tunal to Juan Pablo II is 7 minutes; to Villa Gloria is 11 minutes; and El Paraiso is 15 minutes – having a total round trip time of 30 minutes. The line will have 24 towers along the four stations, and between the Juan Pablo II and Villa Gloria stations there will be a 130-degree angle turn. The system is expected to move 2,600 pphpd at peak hour.

The construction of the El Paraiso station is also meant to be a limiting landmark of urban growth, and so no more future informal settlements are considered to be in the limits of Bogota.

Route Alignment - Ciudad Bolivar. Image from Caracol.

Route Alignment – Cable Aéreo Ciudad Bolívar. Image from Caracol.

The San Cristobal 2.8 km line will start from the Portal 20 de Julio, another southern end of the TransMilenio network. It will go on to the intermediate station of La Victoria, and finishing up on the Altamira station. There will be 22 towers and 100 cabins that will serve the 2,700 pphpd that will use the system at peak hour.

Travel times are very encouraging as it only takes 8 minutes from the Portal 20 de Julio to the La Victoria station, and 3 more minutes to the Altamira station; having a total round trip time of just 22 minutes.

Route Alignment - San Cristobal. Image from Caracol.

Route Alignment – Cable Aéreo San Cristobal. Image from Caracol.

Just like in Medellin, the Bogota Cable Car lines will be connecting to its main transportation system, TransMilenio.

Metro Medellin has been very proactive in advising Bogota on how to take advantage of the opportunities for improving the urban fabric that having a system like this offers. The stations of both lines are meant to be either an entertainment or social hub for all citizens, having planned schools, infrastructure for social security, water features, pools, libraries, etc.

The public input has been fundamental on this project. Every public space that will be constructed comes from the proposals of organized neighborhoods committees on how they think the space that they will be using is best used by their communities.

The Ciudad Bolivar line is expected to be completed by November 2015, and the San Cristobal line will be open to the public on February 2016.

Every person in Bogota is hoping that these initiatives will one day put the city at the same level as Medellin in terms of transportation – or at least close to it. Medellin has completed exemplary work in many fields, but it has excelled particularly in urban transportation and social justice (mainly thanks to the MetroCable). Medellin has done so well that it was recently named as the best Latin American city to live in.

However, it is important we recognize that not all cities are the same. As such, decision-makers must understand that one cannot merely copy a plan, port it over and expect the same results. Nevertheless, Bogota seems to have the necessary ingredients for a successful CPT system: topographical variations, extreme automobile congestion, limited finances and a poorly integrated public transit network.

It will be very interesting to see how this transportation master plan improves mobility, and how much of an effect it will have on people’s perception of the city. Bogota lacks a sense of ownership and lacks cohesion in many ways that are unseen. However, an integrated and multi-modal transit network has been a game changer to many of these cities in similar conditions, and my guess is that it will do so once again.

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.



Another CPT for Colombia – The Bogota Metrocable?

Metrocable Line J in Medellin. Sources suggest that Bogota will see its first CPT system within 1-4 years. Image by CUP Projects.

Not to be outdone by its compatriot, Medellin, news reports coming from Bogota, Colombia indicates that the country’s capital is now seeking to build a Metrocable system of its own.

The cable car is expected to operate in the districts of Ciudad Bolivar and San Cristobal – both of which are located southwest and southeast of the city. From a cursory analysis, it appears that Ciudad Bolivar suffers from poor transport connections and is one of the poorest regions in the city.

Preliminary plans show that the system will run 3.4km in length with a capacity of 2,400-3,200 pphpd.

The Bogota Metrocable is estimated to cost $125 billion pesos ( USD ~$70 million) and will run at speeds of 5 m/s. This is nothing incredibly special nor different from the existing systems such as Medellin but its great to learn that the technology continues to make headways. If anyone has any additional information on this system, we’d love to hear from about it!


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.



Mimes As Traffic Cops in Caracas?

Traffic cops in Caracas, Venezuela. Seriously.

If Caracas can use ski lifts as public transit what are the chances they could do something even more bizarre to ease one’s daily commute?

Plenty apparently.

Carlos Ocariz, mayor of the Caracas municipality of Sucre, has deployed 120 mimes into Venezuela’s most congested city. The mimes are tasked with taming the city’s notorious traffic and silently shaming (and mocking) drivers and pedestrians into following traffic laws.

Admittedly, the concept is strange but it’s not without precedent. The program was inspired by Bogota, Colombia’s own mime-as-traffic-cop scheme and has since spread to other South American cities like Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Originally conceived and implemented in the mid-2000’s by Bogota’s trailblazing former mayor Antanas Mockus, the program was so popular and effective that the number of mimes-as-traffic-cops grew from an initial 20 to over 400.

According to the Harvard Gazette, Mockus called it “a pacificst counterweight . . . With neither words nor weapons, the mimes were doubly unarmed. My goal was to show the importance of cultural regulations.”

He goes on:

“The distribution of knowledge is the key contemporary task. Knowledge empowers people. If people know the rules, and are sensitized by art, humor, and creativity, they are much more likely to accept change.”

Amen to that.

As we’ve discussed before (here and here, for example) people are creative, emotional and fun-loving creatures. It’s far easier to change people’s behaviour by playing to those aspects of their personalities rather than punishing them with burdensome policy, regulations and utterly ineffective public service campaigns.

Arguably, there are few things more frustrating in the realm of contemporary western policy, politics and planning than the complete humourlessness of the whole exercise. It’s as though our current planning regime has concluded that creativity and humor are incompatible with modern, professional urban life.

I categorically reject that model and opinion because it entirely misunderstands humanity.

Cities are built for humanity. A city, its infrastructure and its policy should therefore live to service the needs, wants and desires of humanity, not the other way around.

Just because your local planner, policy-maker or politician is without humour and creativity, doesn’t mean your entire urban existence needs to be as well.

Image via the Harvard Gazette.

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.