With the growing concern over climate change and the need to decarbonize public transport systems, cable cars have emerged as a cleaner and space-saving solution for congested cities. While Austrian company Doppelmayr is renowned for its gondolas in ski resorts, it has expanded its operations to meet the demands of urban mobility. This article explores the shifting landscape of transportation and how cable cars are transforming urban spaces.
Cities across the world are increasingly turning to cable cars as a sustainable mode of transportation. Doppelmayr, the world’s largest cable car maker, has witnessed a significant rise in demand for its urban projects. Reinhard Fitz, Doppelmayr’s head of international business development, acknowledges that climate change will undoubtedly influence the demand for cable cars in mountain resorts, but emphasizes the company’s focus on catering to urban needs.
Doppelmayr’s urban mobility projects have gained traction in various cities, including London, Mexico City, and La Paz. The company’s most groundbreaking project to date is the extensive cable car network in Bolivia’s capital, La Paz, which holds the Guinness World Record for the largest public-transit cable-car system. Latin America remains Doppelmayr’s strongest market for urban mobility, but the company also has its sights set on expanding into Asia.
Aerial tramways, costing less than seven million euros per kilometer, prove to be a cost-effective alternative to tramways. Compared to traditional modes of transport, cable cars require minimal land and can be swiftly deployed without major construction work. Hanane Bengualou, an urban engineering expert, highlights cable cars as an innovative solution that addresses traffic congestion while minimizing environmental impacts.
The Paris region has recently joined the growing roster of cities embracing cable car projects. With a 4.5-kilometer ropeway set to open in 2025, the “Cable C1” line will connect two suburbs, providing 20,000 residents with access to the capital’s subway system. Laurent Probst, director-general at Ile-de-France Mobilites, praises cable transport for its cleanliness, quietness, and reliability. The lower costs and quick installation of cable cars make them ideal for traffic-clogged regions, offering commuters a seamless journey and the ability to effortlessly traverse obstacles such as roads and train tracks.
Despite the numerous advantages of cable cars, their development in urban areas has faced obstacles due to opposition by residents and complex administrative procedures. Lyon, France’s third-largest city, is a prime example, having abandoned its cable car project in 2022. This highlights the importance of raising awareness among policymakers and the public regarding the viability of cable cars as an urban transport option. Fitz believes that successful examples like the Paris region’s cable car project will help shift perceptions and dispel the notion that cable cars are solely associated with ski resorts.
As cities strive to decarbonize and alleviate traffic congestion, cable cars are emerging as a sustainable and efficient mode of transportation. Doppelmayr’s expertise in cable car manufacturing has enabled them to adapt to the evolving market demands, with their urban mobility division now accounting for 20 percent of sales. With the potential to transform urban spaces and reduce CO2 emissions, cable cars offer a viable solution for cities worldwide. As awareness grows and challenges are overcome, cable cars have the power to revolutionize the way we navigate urban environments.