Urban Ropeways:
A tool for intermodal public transport and urban development.

Not only in developing countries, the way in which transport and urban development are handled will decide the future of the cities. If no fast and effective action is taken the cities run a high risk of losing their cultural, economic and socio-economic functions. With their extremely high growth- and motorization rates, and without a coherent strategy of how to control and canalize them, they will overflow and become uncontrollable, dirty and dangerous mega-metropolitan areas.

The growth of motorized traffic has already reached a level that interferes with the function of many cities rather than enhancing it. Nevertheless, according to growth estimates, we are only experiencing the beginning of a long-term trend. The solution of this transport problem is beyond the pure question of infrastructure planning and technology, both in the industrialized and developing world.

The paradigms of urban development must change fundamentally. Nevertheless, the activity of many development agencies and donors are still guided by the standards of European or American transport systems thus leading the cities even deeper into the vicious cycle of dependence on motorised traffic.

Put very simply, one could say that more traffic generates more demand for infrastructure, and more infrastructure induces more traffic demand. Cities literally overflow, and the more they do so, the more traffic is generated and the longer the trips they produce. The only solution are efficient and intelligent public transport systems whose implementation needs to be cheaper, faster, more flexible and more effective than the development of infrastructure for motorized traffic.

In developing countries, especially in Africa, the problems are already severe. In many cities, a complete traffic gridlock is already reached, and it is functionally and financially paralyzing their struggling economies. Unlike in Asia, India and Latin America, Africa’s growth will not decrease, but continue to increase with only slightly reduced rates far beyond 2030.

In summary, cities have to limit their spatial growth to a minimum and create more density. On this basis, efficient mass transport with its huge capacities may be capable of responding to the accelerated growth. In addition, cities need better and safer conditions for walking, cycling and the transport sector needs to be more formalised.

Urban ropeway systems have already begun to make an important contribution to this absolutely necessary management of urban growth. In many Latin American cities they have started forming a part of the urban transport systems. Africa is only a step behind. In Algeria, for instance, ropeways have had a long history and have developed to be highly efficient feeder systems to mass transit modes. In sub-Saharan Africa, several cities are planning or even building ropeway systems.

Ropeways have shown huge potential, however, they are still largely unknown and unconsidered by most urban planners and transport-strategists. Eurist has become aware of this potential and has discussed it in various papers, conference contributions, publications and articles, in order to raise awareness for this transport mode and start a scientific backstopping activity which is urgently needed in order to enhance this potential. A selection of articles can be the found in our Publications section.

As of the second quarter of 2018, a feasibility study for an african capital has been concluded. This has been the first privatly funded feasability study in the public transport sector in sub-saharan Africa. The implementation process is on its way. More detailed information will follow.