Ropeways as Alternative Transport Modes in Urban Areas

Pic: Mi Teleférico, La Paz – El Alto, Bolivien, © doppelmayr

Context of Transport Climate Action

Urban ropeways can be a viable mobility solution for dense cities. They are low in emissions, especially when powered by renewable energy. They also offer new possibilities for disadvantaged groups of society. As they are barrier-free, loading and unloading make ropeways a positive experience for wheelchair users as well as passengers with strollers or bicycles.

The Doppelmayr company is a friend of the German Partnership for Sustainable Mobility (GPSM). The GPSM is a relatively young initiative of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the Federal Ministry for Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB). It serves as a platform, gathering interest in sustainable mobility and logistics solutions from developing and emerging countries and matching this with know-how and concrete offers from Germany, contributing to international cooperation. For more information see


Being environmentally friendly and efficient, ropeway systems provide an answer to present and future traffic problems and can be a cost-effective and a fast mode of urban transportation, most notably in dense cities with difficult terrain. They are quickly implemented and require comparatively little space. Bridging existing infrastructure without causing traffic hindrances, they easily link residential areas and other points of interest. In combination with smart urban planning concepts, they stimulate interaction between communities and activate creative potential.


In 2014, the world’s biggest urban ropeway network went into operation in La Paz, Bolivia. The population of 2.3 million inhabitants of La Paz’s metropolitan area is growing by 2.2% annually. Therefore, the number of daily trips that need to be made in the city is increasing steadily, whereas road capacity is not changing.

The transport sector contributes 49% to the pollution levels in the city. These are just a few reasons that led to the implementation of the so-called Mi Teleférico system. It currently comprises three lines, each of them being used by one million passengers per month. By emitting only 0.03 kg of CO2 per passenger and trip, the greenhouse gas emissions are significantly lower than the current 1.01 kg CO2-emission average of other modes of motorized transportation. According to calculations, Mi Teleférico will avoid 535,389 tonnnes of CO2 being emitted between now and 2040. The total costs are much lower than for metro systems, which are common in many other metropolitan areas in Latin America. Furthermore, this project also positively influences life quality, social inclusion and sustainability awareness.

In terms of climate advantages, modern ropeways consume as little as 0.1 kWh to carry one passenger over a distance of one kilometre, based on a capacity of 3,600 passengers per hour and direction (these are the results from the system in Koblenz (Germany)). When powered by renewable energy, this means around emissions of 5 grams of carbon dioxide taking the infrastructure construction into account. A car powered by fossil fuels emits on average 150-200 grams over the same distance. Hence, using more urban ropeways provides great potential for GHG emission reductions.

Potential for scaling up

Ropeways can be scaled up and used in many situations. They are especially appropriate if the terrain is hilly. Building a ropeway takes less time and can be less costly than widening or building new roads. The Doppelmayr/Garaventa Group is a technology and market leader in ropeway engineering. To date, the Group has built more than 14,600 installations for customers in over 89 nations. Aerial ropeways can be part of the solution by providing an innovative and attractive approach to public transport.

Selected references

“Porque un Gobierno debe inventir en STC urbanos”: Presentation by César Dockweiler Suárez at 1er Congreso Internacional de Transporte por Cable Urbano, 21.10.2015



La Paz, Bolivia






Bolivia, Germany, Austria


Doppelmayr Mi Teleférico


It’s a great feeling to see the crowds of people flocking to use this means of transport on a daily basis, and to know that it has genuinely helped to improve their quality of life. After all, they save up to two hours’ traveling time every day – that’s time they can use to do other things. (Javier Telleria, CEO Doppelmayr Bolivia)