There’s quite a party in the urban gondola capital of the world tonight as Mi Teleférico (My Cable Car) opens the Bolivian capital’s fifth urban gondola line. The Línea Naranja (Orange Line) carried its first public passengers just after 6:00 pm and will serve some 30,000 La Paz commuters daily. Joining the Red, Yellow, Green and Blue lines already in service, the new 10-passenger Doppelmayr system features the world’s first underground gondola station and amenities such as free Wi-Fi, video monitoring and cabin lighting. As La Paz builds out its eleven-line subway in the sky, the Orange Line forms an impressive continuous gondola route 6.1 miles long with the Blue and Red lines.
Like its predecessors, the newest line is technically two gondolas with four stations, a combined 26 towers and 127 cabins representing a $66 million investment. One way ride time is 9.5 minutes with a capacity of 3,000 passengers per hour, per direction. The project uses a mix of UNI-G and tunnel-style terminals built into modern station buildings.
The Bolivian government has committed a total of $795 million to build 21 gondolas with 38 stations, 36 miles of wire rope and more than 1,600 CWA Omega cabins at build out. The Orange Line’s subterranean station at Plaza Villarroel shares a terminus with the White Line, set to open in early 2018. Future lines will travel even faster than the 5 m/s of the current ones and achieve capacities of up to 4,000 pph.
Ever since La Paz’s first three gondolas opened in 2014, I have been captivated by the scale of the region’s commitment to gondolas. Here, they don’t simply connect to subways and other forms of transit. The 10-passenger cabins are the subway, transporting 180,000 people per day with new lines opening every six months. The only other network that comes close is the Poma-built Medellín Metrocable, with three gondolas operating and another under construction. One sign Mi Teleférico really is in a league of its own though: the transport agency just passed 300,000 fans on Facebook.