South American cities are world leaders in urban cable transport, with 24 urban gondolas either opened or planned in Bogotá, Caracas, Guayaquil, La Paz, Lima, Medellín and Rio de Janeiro. I’ve written extensively about La Paz, Bolivia’s capital that went all in on cable transport with eleven gondolas either operating, under construction or planned. But a full decade before the creation of Mi Teleférico in La Paz, Metro de Medellín opened the first of three Metrocable gondola lines in Colombia’s third largest city. Metrocable Line K was the first urban gondola to seamlessly link with a subway anywhere in the world, providing under-served and poor neighborhoods access to the city’s transport network. Metrocable’s J, K and L lines, with ten stations over 5.8 miles, now compose a quarter of the Metro de Medellín network. All three Metrocable lines are 8-passenger monocable gondolas built by Poma.
Line K debuted in 2004 with a shockingly low construction cost of $26 million. Its four stations branch off from the Acevedo Metro station over a length of 6,798 feet, giving three neighborhoods access to the core subway Line A that opened in 1996. This gondola rises 1,309 feet with a rope speed of 5 m/s. Metrocable Line J opened in 2008 at a cost of $47.5 million, serving four more stations from the terminus of the shorter subway Line B. Line J is longer than the original K at just under 9,000 feet. A ride with seamless transfers between buses, two Metro subway lines and two Metrocable lines costs less than a dollar.
Metrocable Line L, opened in 2009, has a distinct purpose serving the tourist region of Arvi Park. It departs from the end of the original K Line with a 14 minute ride up to Arvi and no intermediate stations. Because of its tourism focus, Line L costs an extra ~$1.30 to ride.
Poma is in the process of building two more Metrocable lines in Medellín featuring a combined 91 10-passenger Sigma Diamond cabins. The Alejandro Echavarria line will span 4,610 feet (646′ of vertical) transporting up to 1,800 commuters per hour/per direction between three stations. The 3,477-foot Miraflores Line will rise 905 feet with a capacity of 2,500 passengers per hour. Work began on these lines in 2014 and they are planned to open soon, giving the city five world-class urban gondolas.