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ben_issacs

Unusual public transport system in La Paz, Bolivia.

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ben_issacs

Folks, 

La Paz, in Bolivia, is the biggest city in that country.

It is well up in the mountains, with winding and steep streets, and for many years its main method of transport was buses and mini buses.

Over the past years there has been set up there a system of overhead cable ways as a public transport system.

There are now nine routes, colour coded, with a route kilometreage of 27 km., and a total of 1255 cars.

The cable cars seat ten passengers, one assumes that standing passengers are allowed at peak times.

Cars run at an average speed of 18 kph., and arrive at the stops every 12 seconds.

It's not obvious as to whether the cars actually stop at the stations, or just move slowly through.

12 seconds interval, means about 10 seconds at each station for unloading and loading. 

Pretty smart working would be needed there.

Don't know how this system would go for access for the elderly and disabled people, or those with prams.

Also, one wonder how high winds would affect the cars, they might need airsick bags in those conditions.

But certainly an interesting approach to public transport.

Full details on Googly.

Regards, 

Bill, 

Melbourne

 

 

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gavino200

I've ridden that. It's a beautiful and excellently designed system. I have a video somewhere of the ride from the lowest point in La Paz all the way up to El Alto. You'll see plenty of old Cholitas and regular people taking it. You don't see many prams in LP or El Alto due to the steep hills and narrow paths. Women tend to carry their babies in little pouches on their chest. 

Edited by gavino200

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ben_issacs

Gavin200, 

As you've ridden the La Paz cable system, what happens at the intermediate stations, do the cars stop completely, or just move slowly along the platform?

At the terminii they apparently move slowly along, bunched up, at a sufficent rate to allow people to get on and off.

Regards, 

Bill, 

Melbourne.

 

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Socimi
On 2/12/2019 at 7:42 AM, ben_issacs said:

Gavin200, 

As you've ridden the La Paz cable system, what happens at the intermediate stations, do the cars stop completely, or just move slowly along the platform?

At the terminii they apparently move slowly along, bunched up, at a sufficent rate to allow people to get on and off.

Regards, 

Bill, 

Melbourne.

 

 

Cabinovia.png

The exact same thing (but in reverse) happens when the car leaves the station.

The terminus stations are " U " shaped.

 

Using this system for evryday urban pubblic transport  is a good idea only if your city:

 

- It's literally built on the semi-vertical slopes of the surrounding mountains.

- It has tiny roads (so no increment in bus service nor space to build a modern tramway or light rail).

- You have no rail transport in your city whatsoever (not even a station for intercity trains).

- Your city or nation can't even afford a small or medium-sized  subway system (such as the Japanese Linear Metro or better, French VAL).

 

(e.g. La Paz is the only city in the world where this system makes sense).

 

I was going to add also "your city is not enough big to justify a metro system", but La Paz has a poplation of 789'540 (2.3 million in the metropolitan area), wich is a bit less than the standard 1 million in the urban area mark (as done by most cities in the world), but still enough nonetheless.

 

The disadvantages of this system are:

 

- Difficult interchanges (you can't cross a line with an another).

- A very limited number of stops per line (in this case, a maximium of 5), wich means:

- You need multiple lines to cover a single medium/long straight stretch (if you look at the system map, you'll notice that most lines are sequential).

- Limited passenger capacity, in this case, the total highest possible capacity of all lines (the whole system) is 12550 people (10 x 1255 - the total number of cars, including those stored and/or under maintainance).

- In case of emergency, it's very difficult (if not impossible in some cases) to evacuate the cars.

 

Edit:

Three more:

- very low maximium speed (about 20 Km/h) wich means an even lower average speed.

- visual pollution of the cable car pylons, and most importantly:

- you wouldn't want to be in one of these when it starts to get windy.

(it happened to me once. It was not a good experience. You'll get seasick in no time and it will also scare the crap out of you).

 

In the end it's a transport method that is more suited to be an attraction-viewing tourist-designed system (such as the Emirates Cable Car in London) or to shuttle Skiiers and Alpinists from the valley to the top of the mountains and vice-versa (the original purpose of cable cars).

 

 

 

 

Edited by Socimi
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gavino200
11 hours ago, ben_issacs said:

Gavin200, 

As you've ridden the La Paz cable system, what happens at the intermediate stations, do the cars stop completely, or just move slowly along the platform?

At the terminii they apparently move slowly along, bunched up, at a sufficent rate to allow people to get on and off.

Regards, 

Bill, 

Melbourne.

 

 

I don’t remember if they slowed down. But it wasn’t difficult or unsafe at all. It’s a very modern system.

 

I think  the report about there being a stop every 12 seconds may be inaccurate. 

Edited by gavino200

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ben_issacs

Socimi,

Many thanks for your info on the La Paz cable system, especially the diagram showing the arrangement at the intermediate stops.

The terminus arrangements must be similar, I've seen those on several of the Japanese cable car systems, where the cars bunch up at the unloading point  and move slowly around the half circle to the loading point..

And your comments on its practicability were of interest.

Obviously a system only suitable for certain geographic locations, one of which is La Paz.

Regards, 

Bill, 

Melbourne.

 

 

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katoftw
1 hour ago, ben_issacs said:

Obviously a system only suitable for certain geographic locations, one of which is La Paz.

 

Quite the opposite actually.

 

 

 

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cteno4

It really depends on the use. The pods system works well in the situation you have ongoing light use, the it shines. Not great for heavy commute. We have a local subway connection on the metro between out two ends of a U line into dc (cross traffic between two major towns just outside dc as metro is a spoke system to just bring commuters in/out of dc to the surrounding burbs) that was way to expensive to link by subway so they are doing surface light rail instead. One of the options looked at was using an over head pod system that went down the right of way the light rail will use and it would preserve the surface bike/walking trail better. They system would try to smartly increase and decrease pods on the line as needed. But it was perceived as just too out there and worries that with the link there will be a lot more commuter traffic on the cross line.

 

spome of these overhead pod systems are also envisioned to be like Internet packet switching. Scale is always the problem though.

 

jeff

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ben_issacs

Folks, 

Getting back to the La Paz system, it should not be impossible to connect one route to another to get through running.

Melbourne had one of the biggest cable tram systems in the world, the La Paz system mechanically is basically an upside down cable tramway, and here we had several locations where the car could drop a rope and continue on to pick up the next rope, sometimes around a corner.

Usually the cars would bridge the gap between the two ropes by momentum, which cannot be done on a cableway, but with the arrangement that is used at the intermediate stops to move the car along the platform, it would be possible to transfer the car from one rope to the next.

If we did it in the 1890's, it should be possible today.

I wonder if the engineers responsible for the La Paz system were unaware of the old cable tram technology?

Regards, 

Bill,

Melbourne.

 

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cteno4

Thing with an underground cable is you need the clear road space for it as well as straighter shots for the roads. The mountain side in La Paz doesn’t appear to have those. It’s a lot easier to drop a few piers w.o having to tear up neighborhoods and roads. I seem to remember reading that not tearing up the neighborhoods on the mountain side was a big consideration.

 

Not many many ground cable trams have been produced in the last century.except for smaller people mover systems.

 

jeff

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Socimi
17 hours ago, katoftw said:

 

 

 

Medellin is also in a similar (altough less extreme) situation to La Paz, but unlike it, it has also built a decent standard-sized subway system (22m long, 3.80m wide trains) wich is the primary mode of pubblic transportation in the city, to wich the metrocable system is only complementary, as it's intended (and it acts accordingly) as a feeder line for the subway.

In La Paz, cable cars are the only form of pubblic transportation with exclusive right-of-way.

 

11 hours ago, ben_issacs said:

Folks, 

Getting back to the La Paz system, it should not be impossible to connect one route to another to get through running.

Melbourne had one of the biggest cable tram systems in the world, the La Paz system mechanically is basically an upside down cable tramway, and here we had several locations where the car could drop a rope and continue on to pick up the next rope, sometimes around a corner.

Usually the cars would bridge the gap between the two ropes by momentum, which cannot be done on a cableway, but with the arrangement that is used at the intermediate stops to move the car along the platform, it would be possible to transfer the car from one rope to the next.

If we did it in the 1890's, it should be possible today.

I wonder if the engineers responsible for the La Paz system were unaware of the old cable tram technology?

Regards, 

Bill,

Melbourne.

 

 

It may be not impossible, but is surely difficult, impractical and expensive.

 

 

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ben_issacs

Jeff,

Not suggesting a cable tramway for La Paz, but saying that mechanically what worked for trams with an underground cable would also work with 'trams' with an aboveground cable.

The 'Urban Gondola' video was of interest,  some of the set ups shown there are in hilly places, some in flatter situations, but I still reckon that whilst this  system is the answer for places like La Paz, in many other cases it's just something that's a bit fashionable and unusual.

When  I visited La Paz in the mid 70's, El Alto was more a less a shanty town, the Guaqui-La Paz Railway ran through it, and the section down the hill to La Paz was electrified and worked by four wheeled yellow tram cars.

Regards, 

Bill, 

Melbourne.

 

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gavino200
35 minutes ago, ben_issacs said:

 

When  I visited La Paz in the mid 70's, El Alto was more a less a shanty town, the Guaqui-La Paz Railway ran through it, and the section down the hill to La Paz was electrified and worked by four wheeled yellow tram cars.

 

 

El Alto has changed massively in the last couple of decades. On the surface it still has a bit of a shanty look. But when you look closer there's a lot of money there.  El Alto is completely indigenous and Aymara. La Paz is mostly white/mestizo and Spanish. There has been something of an indigenous democratic revolution in recent years. There's a deep tension there. A lot of fear and bitterness in La Paz, and a lot of empowered optimism in El Alto and among the Aymara. 

 

I did some volunteer work down there. I got a good look at both sides. I spent time with some very privileged people in LP - medical and banking mostly. I also met many indigenous people  and got to hang out in El Alto and get an insiders view.  El Alto and Aymara culture just blew me away. There'a ton of money up there on the hill. Much of it is legit. Much is grey money (also true in LP). In Aymara cultures the Cholitas rule everything. It's a matriarchal culture. The women make all the decisions. When the women have a disagreement, they fight it out with their fists. (youtube it). Technically, the state is sovereign in El Alto, but in reality it's governed by the Cholita's Law, which is .....let's say....very different. There's essentially no crime up there. No one dares. El Alto is one the most fascinating places I've spent time in. 

 

 

Check this out for a taste of what's happening in El Alto.

 

 

Edited by gavino200
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cteno4
1 hour ago, ben_issacs said:

Not suggesting a cable tramway for La Paz, but saying that mechanically what worked for trams with an underground cable would also work with 'trams' with an aboveground cable

 

There are above ground cable “pod” systems envisioned that I was talking about that have this kind of system switching at nodes. Basically 1-6 folks get in a pod and choose a destination then the system routes them around a network of above ground cables or hanging tracks like an internet packet to get to your destination by what ever route works best at that point in time (allows to route around jams or repair work etc just like internet switching). Some nodes are stations you can get off at and some are just transfer nodes depending on the network needed in an area due to need, layout, etc. so far as know these are still on the drawing board. The concept also can handle the idea of different sized pods to handle bigger point to point uses down to 2 person pods for the person going to the odder paths. Also could pay more to get priority routing or willing to get lower priority and slower trip potentially for a cheaper ticket.

 

Their biggest difficulty, and why shot down here even in a simpler point to point, is they are not good at rush demands — they work well with a more distributed lost spacially and temporally. They can throw in more pods as needed but station transfers and loading and unloading can muck up the system when running at high volume. New systems like this need someone to take a big risk to dive in and it needs to fit the needs. Unfortunately most of the big markets for mass transit or for more dense rush hour needs of high capacity in a short time window. Technoligy is there, just trying to work out all the logistics for any particular install to see if it would be viable...

 

Jeff

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ben_issacs

Gavino200, 

Interesting stuff on today's life in El Paz.

Those Bowler hats!

How do they keep them on?

Blutak, perhaps?

It is said that they came about when back in the mid nineteenth cent. a ship was wrecked off the then Bolivian coast (Bolivia no longer has a coast line), and amongst the stuff that was washed ashore were several crates of Bowler hats, and for some reason the Indian women grabbed onto them, and so they have almost become a national emblem.

Back to railways, it appears that the Bolivian railway system is in pretty poor shape, no pass. trains out of La Paz, from a recent map pass. service is only on some isolated sections of the system, so whilst the place is said to have plenty of money, it seems that they don't spend it on their railways.

Regards, 

Bill, 

Melbourne.

 

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gavino200

I found my video of La Paz. The Teleferico is featured from 08 seconds to 56 seconds. It's sped up and gives a nice sense of the ride. It show one of the cars passing through a station. This is a ride from the bottom of the valley in La Paz up to El Alto. Please excuse the cheesy music. This video was put together by a friend of mine.

 

 

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ben_issacs

Gavin200, 

Thanks for that, interesting, and certainly speeded up!

Regards, 

Bill, 

Melbourne.

 

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cteno4

Nice Gavin! Man do you guys work fast! 😜 

 

thanks for your service, that’s a wonderful thing to do.

 

jeff

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gavino200

Looks like Mexico City just built a similar system in 2016.

 

 

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ben_issacs

Gavin200

Looks like the Mexico City cable car set-up is only a single route, and the speeded-up shots are useless to give a true idea of the system

Regards, 

Bill,

Melbourne.

 

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