Completion of the Metrocable Medellin in Medellin, Colombia, more than a decade ago ushered in an alternative form of public transportation to densely populated, underserved, geographically isolated communities in Latin America. The Metrocable Medellin and its numerous predecessors are essentially gondolas that are typically associated with transportation from the bottom to top of the hill at ski resorts.
Many Latin American countries are home to vast slums that cover large parts of cities. These slums are almost completely disconnected from the infrastructure of the main cities, including roads and public transportation. Cities with large slum populations such as Rio de Janeiro, Mexico City, and Buenos Aires were all built to transport people via automobile and bus with little room for people who can only travel either by foot or by bicycle.
The capital of Colombia made headways in transportation in 2000 when they launched their Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system, “TransMilenio.” The first rapid transit system of its kind implemented in the country succeeded in unifying thousands of independently operating bus companies under one system. Since it was opened to the public it has grown to include 12 lines serving 144 stations in the city of Bogota.1
Latin America and the Caribbean are the world’s most urbanized regions with an enormous 80 percent of the population living in urban cities.1 The rapid rate of this urbanization is resulting in cities being pushed to their functioning capacity. The need to efficiently and cost-effectively move people has resulted in many cities building Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) systems. This worldwide transportation trend uses benefits from traditional buses and rail lines to integrate a successful public transportation system.