In recent years, Austrian company Doppelmayr has expanded its operations beyond its traditional market of ski resorts to meet the increasing demand for cable cars in congested cities. As climate change prompts cities to adopt cleaner and space-saving modes of transport, Doppelmayr’s cable cars have become a popular choice for urban mobility solutions. With its extensive experience in building gondolas for ski resorts, Doppelmayr has successfully transitioned into providing sustainable transportation options for cities around the world.
Doppelmayr’s journey into urban mobility began around 15 years ago, and it has since witnessed a growing demand for its cable cars in cities. Currently, urban mobility accounts for 20 percent of the company’s sales, as cities strive to decarbonize their public transport systems. While the demand for cable cars in mountain resorts remains strong, the company acknowledges that climate change will eventually shift the demand towards urban areas.
Doppelmayr’s largest urban project to date is a 33-kilometer network of 10 ropeway lines connecting Bolivia’s capital, La Paz, with the metropolis of El Alto. This impressive project holds the Guinness World Record for the largest public-transit cable-car system. Latin America is the company’s strongest market for urban mobility, but Doppelmayr also aims to expand its presence in Asia.
Cable cars offer numerous advantages over traditional modes of urban transportation. Urban engineering expert Hanane Bengualou highlights that these aerial tramways are three times cheaper than tramways, costing less than seven million euros per kilometer. Moreover, cable cars require minimal land and can be quickly deployed without major on-site construction work. Their ability to “cross obstacles” such as roads or train tracks adds to their appeal, providing commuters with a hassle-free journey free from traffic congestion.
Cable cars also present a sustainable solution for cities. Given that transport accounts for 35 percent of CO2 emissions in France, the cleaner option offered by cable cars can significantly contribute to reducing emissions. With quieter operations compared to other modes of transport, cable cars provide a more pleasant and peaceful urban travel experience.
Despite the many advantages of cable cars, their development in cities has not been without obstacles. Opposition from residents and complex administrative procedures have hampered the implementation of cable car projects in some cities. Lyon, France’s third-largest city, had to abandon its cable car project due to such challenges in 2022.
Population density and various obstacles inherent to urban areas can also pose challenges for cable car implementation. However, lighter single-cable technology has proven to be effective for urban areas, given the lower likelihood of strong winds in cities compared to open mountain areas.
One of the main challenges Doppelmayr faces is raising awareness among policymakers and the general public about the viability of cable cars as a sustainable urban transport option. Many still associate cable cars primarily with ski resorts, overlooking their potential for urban areas.
Doppelmayr hopes that prominent examples, such as the cable car project in the Paris region, will help create awareness and drive the adoption of cable cars in more cities. The 4.5-kilometer ropeway project in the Paris region aims to connect two suburbs and provide 20,000 residents with access to the capital’s subway system. Scheduled to open in 2025, this initiative demonstrates that cable transport is a viable, clean, and regular mode of urban transportation.
As climate change continues to impact the world, the demand for sustainable urban mobility solutions will only increase. Doppelmayr’s expertise in cable car manufacturing positions it well to cater to these evolving needs. With a focus on expanding into new markets, particularly in Asia, Doppelmayr is poised to play a significant role in shaping the future of urban transportation.
Doppelmayr’s transition from being renowned for its ski resort gondolas to becoming a leading provider of cable cars for congested cities highlights the growing trend toward sustainable urban mobility. Cable cars offer a cost-effective, space-saving, and environmentally friendly solution for cities seeking to decarbonize their public transport systems. With the successful implementation of cable car projects in various cities worldwide, these innovative transportation modes are gaining recognition and driving the shift towards a more sustainable and efficient urban transport network.