Like many areas in the tropics, Medellin, one of Colombia’s largest cities, has struggled with poverty and social mobility. Many people live in informal settlements in the hills around the city, meaning their access to the centre was initially either by foot or with the use of an unreliable bus system. This led to fewer opportunities for people in such areas, and some of the highest rates of crime in the world.
In 2004, then city Mayor Luis Perez Gutierrez came up with an innovative solution: a cable car system that would link such areas to the main public transport system.
Metrocable, as the aerial route became known, has been a great success. A study found that access to metro stops dramatically improved, alongside improvements in employment opportunities for some low-income residents. The scheme became so successful — combining a fairer, more equal way of life with low-emission forms of urban mobility — that many more cities in the country have begun to embrace the cable car system.
Gutierrez also invested in additional lighting in public spaces, more support for social housing, and support for business opportunities. The City Fix reports that with the introduction of Metrocable and other initiatives, the homicide rate dropped by 66%. The cable car scheme won the influential institute for technology and development policy award in 2012, with the judges crediting it with “transforming violence and despair into hope and opportunity”.Tags: Colombia, Poverty, Urban Planning