Alex Hutchinson
Land Use & Transportation
ART Technology
in Medellín
Rio de Janeiro and

Accessibility-Mobility- Equity:
Accessibility-Mobility-Equity: ART Technology in Medellín, Rio de Janeiro
and Caracas
Alex Hutchinson
URSP 633: Transportation & Land Use
Word Count: 3,089

Development policy makers and transportation experts have praised Aerial Ropeway
Transit systems based on their ability to connect isolated areas of developing cities to the
formal economy, while critics have passed judgment based on the affordability of ART
systems to local residents and their technical limitations. Informal transportation fills the
void of mobility for low-income residents by providing frequent and low-cost paratransit
services in traditionally underserved areas. The shortage of transportation makes access
to participate in the formal city low. Yet transportation formalization can be beneficial to
the city overall while simultaneously being detrimental and reducing access to the city
due to increased transportation costs. This paper is a starting point that examines ART
systems case studies in Medellín, Caracas and Rio de Janeiro through the lens of
engineering history, development paradigms, equity concepts and transportation mobility
and accessibility theory.!
Acceleration Growth Program-(PAC)!
Aerial Ropeway Transit -(ART)
Bus Rapid Transit -(BRT)
Informal Urban Settlements-(IUS)
Integrated Urban Project-(PUI)
Inter-American Development Bank -(IDB)
Monocable Detachable Gondola -(MDG)
Multilateral Development Banks-(MDB)
Non-Motorized Transportation -(NMT)
Passengers Per Direction Per Hour-(PPHPD)

Figure 1. City Case Studies Modal Share
Figure 2. Medellín Metro Map
Figure 3. ART case study city location
Figure 4. Overcrowding in line for metrocable
Figure 5. Caracas Metrocable
Figure 6. High level Brazilian politicians

Table 1. ART System Attributes
Table 2. Pros and Cons of ART Technology

For nearly two centuries Aerial
Ropeway Transit (ART) has been used
for mobility in mines, ski resorts, touristic
destinations, and in urban environments
(Neumann, 1999). More recently, developing
cities including Medellín, Colombia, Caracas,
Venezuela, and Rio de Janeiro Brazil have
used ART to provide transit service to
inaccessible and remote locales. Dozens of
cities around the world are in the process
of, or are conducting feasibility studies to
construct ART systems as a form of transit
(Alshalalfah, 2012). Development policy
makers and transportation experts have
praised ART systems based on their ability to
connect isolated areas of developing cities to
the formal economy, while critics have passed
judgment based on the affordability of ART
systems to local residents and their technical
limitations. This paper is a starting point that
examines ART systems through the lens of
engineering history, development paradigms,
equity concepts and transportation mobility
and accessibility theory.
Urban Informality
Many developing cities have
seen informal growth in areas that formal
developers dare not build due to their risk of
environmental hazards such as landslides,
foods, or other natural disasters. As
urbanization surges throughout the world,
many city newcomers fock to urban areas that
commonly perch atop steep hillsides or rest
along low food plains.
Informal urban settlements (IUS)
may be squatter settlements or legally hold
land rights but are subnormal in services
provided. They differ from formal settlements
in the sense they lack legal plats. Due to
their remoteness utility services such as
water, sewage, electricity, trash collection
and transportation are diIfcult to provide Ior
Poor road networks in IUS translate to
prolonged travel times for residents frequently
provided by unoIfcial or illegal transportation
companies. InIormal transportation flls the
void of mobility for low-income residents by
providing frequent and low-cost paratransit
services in traditionally underserved areas.
Informal transportation modes are diverse and
they include motorcycle-taxis, minivans, and
bicycle rickshaws. The informal companies
are owner-operated, additionally informal
transportation is a source of employment for
low-income, often migrant citizens (Cervero,
2011). Informal vehicles are often the only
possible mode capable of maneuvering in the
narrow street networks of IUS (Lindau, 2012).
Therefore ART is increasingly being turned to
as a formal transportation solution to the lack
of access and mobility to the central city.
Access & Mobility Theory
Access to schools, health clinics,
recreation and education in IUS is poor due
to their isolated locations. Distances from
the central business districts or employment
centers are signifcant and thereIore require
several transIers and time to reach fnal
destinations. The standard defnition oI
accessibility is the ease of reaching desired
destinations given a number of available
opportunities and impedance to the resources
used to travel from the origin to the
destination (Bocarejo, 2010). Despite dense
street networks, local conditions in IUS often
lack the same diversity of opportunities as
the formal city. Critical resources such as
hospitals, schools, sports facilities, banks
and community centers are often lacking
exacerbating endemic problems of health,
education and unemployment. The shortage
of transportation makes access to participate
in the formal city low. Planners in IUS are
beginning to bring activities and improve
land uses to increase access to essential
services without having to provide signifcant
transportation upgrades.
2 -Hutchinson
Mobility, or the ability to reach activity
sites is a requirement for participation in the
formal city. In the United States mobility
typically necessitates an automobile, however
in developing nations the majority of people
still walk, bike or use public transportation to
meet their daily needs. Despite this favorable
mode share, transportation investments and
policies are being made that are inequitable
because they enhance a small percentage of
users’ mobility while reducing another group’s
accessibility (Hanson, 2004). A study from
São Paulo, Brazil showed that low-income
households make 50% fewer trips per day
than their higher-income equivalents (CMSP,
2003). Transportation planners and engineers
have typically prioritized increased traIfc
speeds and distances traveled rather than
promoting policies that provide a high level
of access to destinations and activities by
means of compact development that promotes
accessibility to a variety of mode users.
Equity analysis for transportation
projects can be problematic to categorize;
what may seem equitable from one
perspective may be the contrary from
another. As a result equity analysis is done
inconsistently or ignored altogether. Yet as
unmanageable as equity analysis may be, it is
essential to account for the different types of
equity that exist: Horizontal Equity, Vertical
Equity in regards to income and social class,
and Vertical Equity in regards to mobility
need and ability (Litmann, 2012). Motility
is the combination of equity and mobility, in
that mobility allows a user to access different
activities in society, yet motility takes this
concept one step further by allowing citizens
social mobility and the access of different
hierarchies of society (Cañón-Rubiano, 2010).
Multilateral Bank Transport Investments
Traditional transportation investment
practices in developing countries have
prioritized road building and increased and
enhanced mobility as a pillar of growth.
For decades, the World Bank, the Inter-
American Development Bank (IDB) and other
Multilateral Development Banks (MDB)
have spent the majority of their investment
portfolios in road investments despite the
low motorization rates of developing nations
(Hook, 2005). These myopic investments fail
to acknowledge the fact the poorest residents
do not have access to motorized vehicles
thereIore they are not benefciaries oI these
The goals of the MDBs aim to
alleviate poverty while addressing the
needs of society’s most vulnerable citizens.
Paradoxically road investments have done the
opposite, endangering the lives of the poorest
residents through increased air pollution and
traIfc accidents caused directly or indirectly
by large, high-speed roads located nearby low-
income housing (Vasconcellos, 2011).
To give credit, the MDBs have
begun to shift towards sustainable transport
investments that more appropriately serve
a spectrum of income levels in developing
countries, particularly the bank’s low-income
target, in terms of Bus Rapid Transit and
Metro. However some have criticized formal
transit investments as lacking vertical equity
because they are unaffordable for the poorest
Figure 1. City Case Studies Modal Share
Source: observatorio movilidad urbano CAF
members of society (Bocarejo, 2010).
Numerous affordability studies have
attempted to quantify transportation costs as
a ratio to income. These studies do not agree
on a benchmark affordability index, in fact
it varies greatly betweens cities and nations
(Gomide, 2004) (Carruthers, 2005). Many
policy makers in these studies advocate for
increased transportation subsidies to address
the affordability issue. However, they fail
to recognize that the poorest members of
society often use low-cost, non-motorized
transportation (NMT) such as walking or
bicycling, while moderate-income groups
use more expensive formal transit systems.
Following this analysis, subsidies would be
incorrectly targeted at middle income groups
due to the fact NMT has little to no cost, thus
represents a smaller percentage for low-
income groups (Estupiñán 2007).
The poorest residents of
Bogotá, Colombia spend roughly 20% of
their income on transportation. Although
the formalization of the Transmilenio BRT
system of Bogotá overhauled and improved
the city’s public transportation system, in less
than a decade Transmilenio fares doubled
effectively pricing out many users of the
system who were left with no affordable
alternative for long distance travel due to
the fact trunk bus lines were now solely
operated by Transmilenio (Morales, 2010).
The issue of affordability does not discredit
the Transmilenio system as a whole for it
has indisputably improved quality of life
for the city in terms of reduced accidents,
improved travel times, and air-pollution
reductions. More practically, the Transmilenio
system is an example of how transportation
Iormalization can be both benefcial to the
city overall while simultaneously being
detrimental and reducing access to the city due
to increased transportation costs.
ART Technology
There exists signifcant variation
in the speeds, passenger capacities and
mechanical details of ART technology. The
systems this paper will examine in Latin
America were all installed by the Austrian/
Swiss company Doppelmayr. Also in
common, the systems all use the Monocable
Detachable Gondola (MDG) system design.
ART has been adopted in many cities as a
form of urban transportation because of the
following technical attributes: increased
energy eIfciency, the reduction oI travel
times, a small construction footprint,
fexibility in navigating diIfcult terrain,
safety, low operation costs due to automated
vehicles, fast implementation, and relatively
low construction cost. However the systems
currently being implemented are not without
fault and these limitations will be addressed.
Table 1. ART System Attributes Adapted from: Alshalalfah, Brand, SuperVia
4 -Hutchinson
Medellín, Colombia
Colombia’s second largest city, Medellín
rests in the Aburrá valley. Medellín is the
historic and current industrial powerhouse,
which experienced signifcant growth
expanding from 350,000 to 1.5 million
between 1951 and 1985 (Fukuyama, 2011).
The city’s growth was affected by Colombia’s
decades long civil confict that displaced
hundreds of thousands of Colombians from
rural areas into the cities, many of whom
relocated along the steep, precarious hillsides
of the valley. When Colombia became the
world’s largest cocaine manufacturer in 1980s,
the violent Medellín Cartel based operations
there deeply scarring the city, particularly in
the 1990’s and 2000’s. The Medellin cartel
was dismantled but drug traIfcking operations
still persist.
In the 1980s the Colombian national
government began to relegate power from
the federal branch to local municipalities
when a furry oI policies were created that
mandated municipal elections, the creation of
local development plans, and the integration
of subnormal settlements (Bahl, 2011).
Following on the relative success of the
PRIMED development program, the Medellín
municipal government created the Integrated
Urban Project, (PUI, its Spanish acronym.)
PUI strategically target municipal funds
to areas of the city with the lowest human
development indexes. PUI in coordination
with other municipal entities construct
public work projects such as pedestrian
bridges, libraries, schools, police substations,
clinics, as well as stream and public space
rehabilitations. The development of PUI
are noteworthy for their approach to public
participation in which citizen input is an
essential part of the process.
Many of these projects are supported
in tandem by the development of Metrocable
ART projects that are used as a development
Figure 2. Medellín Metro Map, Green & Yellow Lines are lines K and J Respectively,
Source: ETMVA
Figure 3. ART case study city location
catalyst, For every dollar invested in the
construction of Metrocable lines, stations and
facilities, nearby PUI public works projects
spent six times the amount (Brand, 2011).
In collaboration with the
municipality’s metro company ETMVA, the
city installed ART to connect with the existing
heavy rail system. Documents from the
agency also show that the metrocables were
intended to channel ridership into the metro
system a scheme similar to Rio de Janeiro
ART. The metrocable system easily allows
users to pay a single fare integrating the ART
to distant regions of the city Medellín’s Metro
and BRT systems. However the Metrocable is
too expensive for many of the nearby residents
to warrant its use in only but the most
necessary trips when the alternative would be
several bus transfers and fare payments. The
system has been touted Ior its signifcant time
savings benefts however due to the Iact many
residents face lengthy walks to stations and
waiting times in lines that can last upwards of
one hour at peak periods, these benefts should
be examined carefully.
Caracas, Venezuela
Caracas the capital and largest city in
Venezuela rests in the Caracas valley. Being
one of the biggest cities in Latin America with
a population of 5.9 million it has many of
the problems of inequality and rapid growth
in peripheral neighborhoods. Many of these
neighborhoods are on steep hillsides where
providing public services is diIfcult. To
address this issue the city looked to Medellín
as an inspiration. The municipal government
of Caracas decided to place the metrocable
project in the San Agustín, neighborhood.
The same level of public participation was
not seen in the Caracas Metrocable project,
in fact land use/transportation studies were
not completed until after the initial line was
close to realization (Modelistica, 2009). The
passengers per direction per hour (PPHPD) are
extremely low, at 500 this is 1/6
the capacity
of the system (Barra, 2012). The system is
primarily used by tourists (Alshalalfah, 2012)
that raises the question as to whether these
funds are truly being used as transportation
investments or merely as economic
development incentives.
Unlike the Medellin metrocable,
the Caracas San Agustín line is located in
a low-density area that explains the low
ridership. Despite this lackluster evidence of
success, and recommendations to avoid future
projects, the city has moved forward with the
construction of another line with is anticipated
to be completed this year. While these projects
are better located and have higher demand,
they face the same capacity issues as other
metrocable systems. The Caracas ART, also
called Metrocable, was signifcantly more
costly to build than the Colombian example,
at a cost of $320 million, however most of
this cost was attributed to station construction
Figure 4. Overcrowding in line for metrocable
source: ETMVA
Figure 5. Caracas Metrocable labeled with
“Equity” Source:
6 -Hutchinson
that serves as community, health and police
center. The line itself apparently had a cost
oI $18 million, a fgure consistent with other
systems. The benefts the station/community
center gives the affected area notwithstanding,
the exorbitant cost for a community center
and the metrocable in such a low density area
and underutilized area, does little to improve
mobility and access to the city. Solicited
technical reports recommended against the
4.8 km second line being built given the low
capacity and high cost of the project. The
report made alternative recommendations of
enhancing the conventional road transport
(Modelistica, 2009). Venezuelan decision
makers justifcations oI this project should be
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Rio, the second biggest city in Brazil
experienced an intense period of growth as
the capital city pushed for modernization.
Millions of Brazilians left the destitute
Northeastern region of the country and
settled in economically booming Brazilian
cities such as Rio de Janeiro. During the
military dictatorship of the 1960s favelas,
informal communities in Portuguese, were
cleared and residents were relocated to distant
peripheral areas of the city where access was
diIfcult (Del Rio, 2009). Crime, violence
and unemployment became rampant in these
hardscrabble neighborhoods. It’s estimated
that 2.3 million Brazilians live in informal
communities (Lindau, 2012). Brazil will host
both the 2014 world cup and Rio the 2016
summer Olympics, both events that will put
an international spotlight on the country,
particularly its obvious social, economic,
and spatial inequalities. To prepare for
these events, in addition to the tremendous
economic growth the country is experiencing,
the nation has undertaken one of its biggest
public work projects in Brazil’s history the
Acceleration Growth Program (PAC, by its
Portuguese acronym) (Lindau, 2012). One
of these projects is focused in the Complexo
do Alemão section of the city, an area that
has Ior years been disputed drug traIfcking
territory and recently underwent a pacifcation
process. Complexo do Alemão inaugurated
Brazil`s frst ART in 2011 as the highlight oI
the PAC project in the 13 conjoining favelas
that have a combined population of 94,684
residents (IGBE census, 2010). The ART
represents over 1/5
of the total PAC cost
a comprehensive project that also includes
housing, water and sewage in addition to other
services. The dense, path networks of the
favelas provides the main form of mobility
for reidents of Complexo do Alemão, 56.1%
of whom walk as a form of transportation
(Aquino). Rio’s system, the Teleferico of
Alemão, has average lengths between stations
of 567 meters. The system integrates with
the Bonsucesso train station, operated by the
private SuperVia train company. Teleferico
stations are mixed-use with the development
and inclusion of formal banks and institutions
(Supervia, 2011).
Citizens, many who reside in between
the hill summits where the stations are located,
face grueling inclines to connect to the system.
The Rio system has a subsidy which provides
free service for all residents of Complexo do
Alemão, despite this free service only 8.4%
Figure 6. High level Brazilian politicans
inaugurate the Rio Teleferico Source: Roberto
Stuckerdt Filho
of residents have registered for the system.
After this subsidy expires residents will have
to pay a 50¢ fare and an additional $1.20 to
integrate to the SuperVia metro. Authorities
expected 70% of local inhabitants trips in
Complexo do Alemão to be made by ART, yet
nearly a year after inauguration the number
is 11%. Average daily ridership is only 6,557,
21% of the system capacity (SuperVia, 2012).
(The Medellín system took several years to
get to the level of ridership it has today.) The
Complexo do Alemão, granted while in its
nascence, is a project that potentially was
created to increase government intervention
and visibility in a notoriously diIfcult to
patrol region of the city as the municipality
leads up to the international events.
ART is worth closer examination due
to its potential to provide mobility and access
to IUS and diIfcult to reach terrain. Cities
from all over the world are assessing the
potential of ART in integration to metro and
even BRT systems. However before decision
makers build ART projects they must closely
acknowledge several issues associated with
their implementation. As many ART projects
are in low-income communities the residents
themselves are often unable to afford these
systems. If it is found that subsidies should be
provided, how will this affect ridership and the
system`s fnancial sustainability. The Rio case
shows us that subsidies alone will not increase
ridership and that outreach and education
must be carried out to include uninformed
residents. While these projects are typically
not exorbitant in cost, the low ridership as a
mass transit system, when compared to Light
Rail or BRT, posits whether investments might
be better allocated in upgraded bus service or
improved NMT facilities. Low labor operating
costs of ART, when compared to conventional
bus service is often a selling point, however
when ridership is low these costs aren’t as
benefcial as purported. Time savings are
a signifcant beneft oI ART, however long
queues can nullify these time savings. Might
cablecar technologies other than the MDG,
such as Tricable Detachable Gondola which
provide higher PPHPD be incorporated?
How can the public participation process
be improved when making transportation
decision in developing countries so that
public investments accurately refect desires
and needs of the communities in which they
are placed? Quantitative data is diIfcult to
locate in informal communities due to the
transitory nature of their residents. This paper
could be improved with better ridership
numbers in relation to residents. While total
costs were located, the exact construction
costs were not published in any document.
The pricing would be useful to understand
the structures of different systems and what
future ART projects can learn from these case
studies. IUS have a long history of relocation
and displacement, how many people were
displaced in these projects and what was
their compensation? Was their displacement
This paper is a beginning in a
conversation that must take place in
Latin American decision making and
transportation planning circles to understand
how metrocables affect equity, mobility,
accessibility and their effect on IUS.
Pros Cons
Reduced Travel Times Low PPHPD
Environmental Flexibility Low Ridership
Energy Effcient/ Low Emissions Unaffordable
Low Labor Cost Low Waiting Times
Small Construction Footprint Far Distances from Dwellings
Table 2. Pros and Cons of
ART Technology for case
study cities
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