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 world’s largest urban gondola network leaps forward this week with the addition of the Línea Azul (Blue Line) in the Bolivian twin cities of La Paz and El Alto. Since debuting with just one line in May 2014, the state-owned Mi Teleférico (My Cable Car) system has now transported more than 75 million passengers on its Green, Yellow, and Red gondolas. In 2015, My Cable Car committed $450 million to build six additional lines through 2020, and it ordered two more last year. Mi Teleférico has quickly become one of Doppelmayr’s largest customers, exclusively utilizing the Austrian company’s ten-passenger monocable detachable gondola technology.
Construction commenced on Línea Azul in late May 2015 with cable pulling (by drone!) wrapping in September 2016. The first cabin launched later that month with Bolivian President Evo Morales taking the inaugural ride in November. After three more months of terminal buildout and system testing, the Blue line’s five stations are ready for show time. Línea Azul is La Paz’s longest to date, with 208 CWA Omega IV-10-LWI cabins that will cover an impressive 32,700 feet per revolution beginning March 3rd, just 645 days after groundbreaking.
Like the Red, Yellow and Green lines, the Blue line is actually two lifts with two separate haul ropes and two drive systems with cabins transferring between them. Nearly all of the Mi Teleférico network will be built this way, with multiple haul rope loops forming single “lines” with two to five stations each (most have either three or four.) Multi-stage gondolas operating with this principle in North America include Whistler Village and Excalibur at Whistler Blackcomb, Panorama at Mammoth and Revelation at Revelstoke Mountain Resort.
The urban ropeway revolution will continue in Bolivia’s capital city of La Paz, where President Evo Morales announced Friday an 11th gondola line, Linea Celeste (Sky Blue Line) will join the Mi Teleférico gondola network. La Paz and the neighboring city of El Alto announced the Red, Yellow and Green gondola lines in 2012 and the world’s largest urban gondola system opened throughout 2014. President Morales unveiled plans for phase two with six more lines in 2015 with another added to the mix last February. All 11 lines will be 10-passenger monocable detachable gondolas built by Doppelmayr. This latest investment of $110 million comes on top of $234 million for phase one and $450 million for the first six lines of phase two.
The Sky Blue branch will stretch nearly 9,000 linear feet with four stations, 27 towers and 159 CWA 10-passenger cabins. It is expected to be the busiest line in the system, serving the heart of the city and up to 4,000 passengers per hour at six meters per second. The three existing lines operate at up to 5 m/s. A trip from end to end on Linea Cileste will take 11.8 minutes. A line previously dubbed Sky Blue will now be known as the Gold Line. At the current rate, Mi Teleférico is going to run out of colors soon!
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The world’s largest gondola-based public transit network, Mi Teleférico “My Cable,” announced on social media this week it has ordered a 9th gondola from Doppelmayr for delivery in 2019. The Linea Plateada (Silver Line) will connect the existing Yellow/Red and under construction Purple/Blue lines in Bolivia’s capitol city of La Paz. When complete, it will connect nine separate lines and 42 miles of cable together for the first time.
The brainchild of President Evo Morales, Bolivia went all-in on gondolas in 2012, ordering three lines (with 4 haul ropes, 11 stations and 450 cabins) for phase one. The experiment proved wildly successful, offering safe, clean and reliable transport to the masses in La Paz and neighboring El Alto. Less than two months after the first gondola opened, President Morales announced construction of five additional lines on July 1, 2015.
Not many public transit systems are as revered as this one, which has more than 160,000 likes on Facebook (the largest subway system in the world, New York’s MTA, has just 50,000.) Mi Teleférico’s slogan is Uniting Our Lives and it serves more than 100,000 passengers every weekday. For 40 cents a trip, riders even get free wi-fi.