Posts Tagged: Poma



Medellin/Caracas, Part 1

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 1 of a photo essay on those systems. In this part, a brief overview of the history of cable transit in this part of the world will be explained. Image by Steven Dale.


Modern Cable Propelled Transit started in Caracas, Venezuela with the Mount Avila Gondola. This system was originally built in the middle of the last century to carry people from Caracas to the top of Mount Avila where the luxurious Hotel Humboldt had been built. Political and economic strife caused the government to leave for neglect both the hotel and gondola. The gondola itself was not reopened until 1999, after a successful rebuild.

The Avila Mountain Gondola In Caracas. Image by Steven Dale.

An Avila Mountain Gondola From Below. Image by Steven Dale.

A gondola passes over two original and well-preserved antique gondola cars at the Mount Avila Caracas Terminal. Image by Steven Dale.

The Avila gondola cannot, however, be truly classed as cable transit. It lacks integration to the local transit network and really exists more for tourists, not local commuters. It did, however, indirectly inspire the nearby city of Medellin, Colombia to pursue a fully-integrated CPT system to serve the impoverished and dangerous barrio of Santo Domingo. The system would take almost 5 years to open, from conception to fruition and would be the world’s first true CPT system. They would name it The Metrocable. The first line, consistent with the city’s existing Metro system, would be named Linea K.

A Linea K Metrocable Car in Medellin, Colombia. Image by Steven Dale.

The Metrocable over top the Santo Domingo barrio. Image by Steven Dale.

Gondolas depart a Linea J Metrocable station. Image by Steven Dale.

Metrocable Linea K would be an enormous success. Crime rates in Santo Domingo plunged and area investment skyrocketed. In the four years since Linea K opened, crime in Santo Domingo virtually disappeared, jobs have increased 300% and 3 banks have opened along the Metrocable route. With such an obvious success story, Metro officials had little trouble convincing decision-makers to open Linea J.

Unlike Linea K, Linea J would connect several smaller barrios in the western end of the city. These barrios suffered from similar economic conditions but did not have the population density that Linea K had. This was considered a good thing as Linea K suffered from overcrowding almost immediately upon opening, a situation not witnessed on Linea J.

A Linea J gondola. Image by Steven Dale.

Meanwhile, Hugo Chavez, President of Venezuela was not to be undone. The opening of the second Metrocable line in Medellin made Chavez lust after a similar system in Caracas, the capital of Venezuela. Within 2 years, Chavez’s dream would be realized with Caracas opening their own cable transit system in early 2010. It was also to be named The Metrocable.

Like the Medellin systems before it, the Caracas Metrocable would provide transit to under-serviced barrios with a history of crime and poverty. But unlike the Medellin systems, Caracas would feature enormous stations that included social facilities such as gymnasiums, police stations, community centres and markets. The Caracas Metrocable would also be the first in the world to feature extreme 90 degree turning radii at stations.

Gondolas enter and exit a station in Caracas. Image by Steven Dale.

The Caracas Metrocable. Image by Steven Dale.

The Metrocable loop between Medellin and Venezuela came full circle in early 2010. While Chavez was opening his first system in Caracas, Medellin was opening their third Metrocable line. But this time, the line looked more similar to the original Mount Avila system from Venezuela circa 1999.

While still fully-integrated into the Medellin Metro, the new Linea L services the Parque Arvi at the top of a nearby mountain in Medellin and requires an additional fare of 1,550 Colombian Pesos (roughly $1 US dollar). Linea L would give quick, affordable access to wilderness and parkland facilities that had previously only been accessible to wealthy land-owners in Medellin. This was a welcome change, given Colombia’s historically wide gap between rich and poor.

A Linea L gondola. Image by Steven Dale.

Medellin as seen from the Linea L, Parque Arvi nature preserve. Image by Steven Dale.

Both cities are engaged in major plans to expand their Metrocable offerings and cities throughout Latin America are embarking upon cable transit plans of their own.

Read Part 2.

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5 Urban Cable Car Developments to Follow in 2015

La Paz Green Line. Image via

La Paz Green Line. Image via

When the clock struck midnight on January 1, the most pressing transit question for 2015 seemed to be: “When do we get our hoverboards?” Aside from the thrill of living in the actual year of everyone’s favourite time-travel movie sequel — albeit without the gravity-defying skateboards — 2015 also offers some new reality-based ways to get around. Naturally, we’re excited for a number of cable-propelled transit developments. Here are five to look out for:

Algeria: POMA has teamed up with the Algerian government’s EMA (Algiers Metro — l’Entreprise du Métro d’Alger) and l’Entreprise de Transport Urbain et Suburbain d’Alger (ETUSA) to form a new partnership for managing existing systems as well as designing, constructing, and operating all future ropeways. This new entity has been dubbed l’entreprise de transports algérien par câbles (ETAC) and will have a staff of 200.

Chile: Last year, the Chilean government announced huge investments in urban ropeways for that country, including three cable cars for the cities of Antofagasta, Iquique, and Valparaíso. These projects are in various stages of planning and development, and will no doubt be a key focus for Gondola Project in 2015.

France: Now that tender details have been finalized and a winner chosen, construction on Brest, France’s urban ropeway is set to begin in February 2015. The 410-metre system has a planned capacity of 1,200 and is scheduled for completion by mid-2016.

Bolivia: Even before the first phase of La Paz’s new urban gondola network was finished, plans were announced to build five additional lines. Phase 2 will involve a massive $450 million investment to expand the already popular system.

Mexico: The country’s first urban cable car, Mexicable, is now under construction in the city of Ecatepec. The seven-station system, which will span 4.8 km, promises to reduce travel times from 45 minutes to less than 20 minutes and is expected to be completed in Q1 of 2015.

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Weekly Roundup: Update on Mexico’s First CPT Line; POMA Partners with Algeria; a DIY Ropeway in China


Illustration of Pomagalski's cable car for La Defense. Image via

Illustration of Pomagalski’s cable car for La Defense. Image via

A quick look at some of the things that happened this week in the world of urban gondolas, cable cars and cable propelled transit:

  • Reports indicate that Mexico’s first urban cable car, the Teleférico de Ecatepec, is now 33% complete. The CPT line will be connected to Lines 2, 3 and 4 of the Mexibús and will help reduce travel times by nearly half an hour. It’s estimated that once it becomes operational by December 2015, it will benefit upwards of 300,000 residents.


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Modul’air by Eiffage and POMA – Hybrid Cable Car

Guest post by Charlotte Boffetti. 

Eiffage is a large construction and civil engineering company in France. In 2007 it started a research lab called the “Phosphore” to think about the future of cities. After years of research and development, last April it presented a model called “the city in 2030”. The goal was to develop and present a sustainable city model that addresses the future changes in demography, technology and the environment.

City in 2030 and Modul’air concept vehicles. Image via

There are 3 main themes to this model:

  • Eco-mobility
  • Renewable energy and energy solidarity
  • “La Haute Qualité de Vie” aka High Quality of Life – a concept developed by Eiffage which emphasizes new ways to live and build through principles of human scale development

Amongst all the technologies that were conceptualized, one of the most interesting ideas was an urban cable car called the “Modul’air”. It is a hybrid transport system where a cable car operates in both an aerial and terrestrial fashion. The cabins are designed in a way to not only transport human passengers, but also cargo and waste materials.

Modul’air. Image via

POMA, a French cable car company, helped develop the idea of the Modul’air as a carbon free and flexible transport solution for the future. It functions primarily to complement existing urban transport networks.


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New Urban Gondola Opens in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia

The Nizhny Novgorod Urban Gondola was put into operations last month. Image via

Last month ropeway manufacturer Poma officially completed an urban gondola lift crossing the Volga river in Russia. We first mentioned the Nizhny Novgorod gondola last year and while the completion was a little bit behind schedule, we’re certainly happy to see it finished and in operation.

From the specs available, it’s a curious system. Both impressive in some ways and utterly bland in others.

The system is built on a standard off-the-shelf MDG configuration and operates at a standard 5 m/s or 18 km/hr. It currently offers a limited capacity of only 500 pphpd but is to be expanded to 1,000 pphpd later this year. While only having two stations, those stations are integrated into the public transportation network – and those stations are separated by 3,660 meters! That’s impressive considering the length of other comparable MDG systems.

More impressive is this: Two of the gondola towers reach heights of 82 meters allowing for a 900 m span between those towers. That’s a remarkable feat very uncharacteristic of standard MDG installations. Spans like that are more typical of Funitels or 3S systems. Always nice to see advancement and innovation.

Given the time, distance and cost involved to get a tour of the system, I highly doubt we’ll have any first-hand information anytime soon, but in the meantime, you can checkout to learn a little bit more about the system.

(Interesting side note: Take a look at the image above and the other images available on Focus on the stations. Now compare those to the images and renderings we published last year. A little bit different, no?)

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Voluntary Disclosure

In the interest of honesty, let me state plainly that I have, in the past, provided planning services for the Doppelmayr/Garaventa Group, the world’s largest manufacturer of Cable-Propelled Transit (CPT) in the world.  I maintain a relationship with them to this day.

Should this fact cloud your opinion of The Gondola Project or Cable-Propelled Transit?  Possibly.  Is this a potential conflict of interest?  Also possibly, which is why I am making this disclosure.

I do not work on commission. If CPT sales increase, I get nothing and I think that’s the way it should be. Nor am I paid to maintain this website.  I maintain this website because I love it and genuinely believe people should learn about CPT.

As I’ve said before, I do not believe CPT is a panacea or a cure-all.  Nor do I believe that it is applicable in all situations.  It is, however, a fine and deserving addition to the existing family of transit technologies.

In this space, I will not endorse the work, service or products of an individual Cable-Propelled Transit manufacturer.  The purpose of The Gondola Project is not to advocate for one company over another, but instead to spread the idea that CPT deserves mainstream acceptance and understanding within transit planning circles.

I will, however, provide objective critiques of individual systems and technologies so that people can learn from the good and the bad examples of cable technology.  You’ll find me to be very fair and even-handed.

Finally, the opinions expressed here are my own and do not necessarily represent the opinions of Doppelmayr/Garaventa, the Cable-Propelled Transit industry or CUP Projects.

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.