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Analysis

Cablebús Line 1 is Here, More to Come Soon

By Lorenzo Núñez | Fri, 08/13/2021 - 11:31

Cablebús Line 1 has just begun operating this month with Line 2 not too far behind. This cableway project remains one of the most ambitious projects of Mexico City’s mobility plan and a key development to improve accessibility in the most neglected parts of the city. “Cablebús is not only an innovative form of mobility in the city but the best mobility project for the lower income areas of the city. The only way to reduce inequalities, as we have said many times, is to improve accessibility for the poorest people in the city,” said Claudia Sheinbaum, Mexico City Mayor, during a supervision visit to both Line 1 and Line 2 of Cablebús.  

Back in May of last year, in the early stages of the pandemic, Cablebús was considered an essential project, along with 36 others that did not lost funding after the city cut down 50 percent of its regular spending, as reported by MBN. Sheinbaum, inaugurated back in March 2021 section Tlalpexco-Campos Revolucion of Cablebús Line 1, which is expected to improve mobility in one of the cities most populated sectors. The Cablebús cableway runs for 1.7km and it received an investment of nearly US$140 million and generated 2,800 jobs. Its total length is 9.2km, including 63 towers. The project is expected to impact over 48,000 people every day by connecting remote areas of the city and reducing travel time from 20 to six minutes.

Cablebús Line 1 works began on Jan. 15, 2020 and it began operating officially on July 11, 2021. The companies that were competing for the construction contracts were Bartholet Maschinenbau, Leitner Spa and Doppelmayr Mexico together with Gami Ingenería, with the latter being the winners of the project as they offered the best price to the city, according to Andrés Lajous, Head of SEMOVI.

The fare for the general public is MX$7 (US$0.35), while senior citizens, people with disabilities and children under five years of age have free access. The hours of operation are Monday through Friday from 5:00 a.m. to 11 p.m., Saturdays from 06:00 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Sundays and holidays, from 07:00 a.m. to 23:00 p.m.

Line 2 received a bigger investment than Line 1 with US$148 million and was under the responsibility of the Italian company Leitner Spa. This project will reduce travel time by over 50 percent and its total length is expected to span 10.6km with 56 stations, benefitting a population of over 300,000 people, as reported by the government. The line will travel from Constitución de 1917 to Santa Martha and will connect areas of high marginalization and population density in Iztapalapa. It is also expected to save its users MX$518 (US$26.1) a month. Everything is set to go, with the most recent security tests being conducted in June. Line 2 was expected to officially begin operations on July 24, 2021, but due to a government’s popular consultation, the inauguration was pushed back until further notice.

In addition to Line 2’s delay, Line 3 and Line 4 have also been put on hold due to factors external to Cablebús itself, such as the recent Metro Line 12 accident. As reported by MBN, Line 3 is set to begin operations in 2022 but Line 4 is still in its early planning stages, as the government is waiting for the completion of the Mexico City-Toluca Interurban Train to see the impact it will have on demand for public transportation.

President López Obrador remains adamant in the delivery of infrastructure projects, stating that he does not wish to have projects incomplete by the time his presidency is finished. That bodes well for the population, which is expected to benefit from Cablebús, as well as other major infrastructure projects in development.

Construction quality is the new trending topic regarding infrastructure projects, especially after the Line 12 Mexico City Metro accident. Sheinbaum is no longer providing updates around the investigation of the accident but López Obrador still addresses this during his morning conference. The president said Line 12 will resume operations in one year at the latest. “We are already doing a full review. I can tell the people of Tlahuac, Iztapalapa and Chalco, those who use this system, with all certainty that the line will be ready no later than 2022.” López Obrador added that investigations continue to find those responsible for the collapse of an overpass that killed and injured scores of people and to repair the damages caused to the victims and their families.

After the Metro incident, however, confidence has been shaken regarding the quality and safety of infrastructure projects. GAMI, the company responsible for building Line 12 is also building a section of the Mayan Train. Even the company in charge of Cablebús Line 2, Leitner, has suffered some previous accidents with some of its projects. With the power of social media giving everyone the ability to share information and pictures of potential construction liabilities, SEMOVI has had to be quick to respond to some recent criticism toward the Cablebús project. A somewhat viral video of a group of people getting soaked while riding the Cablebús cabins was shared on Twitter and quickly attracted the attention of users and news providers. SEMOVI quickly responded in a tweet saying that the rain was leaking in because the cabin windows were open. “With the help of the Cablebús team, this situation was corrected.” Another more viral social media post pointed out that there were missing bolts in the Cablebús structure. However, SEMOVI, responded that “the referred structure was a tent where an event had been held.” The accusing tweet was later deleted.

Regardless of the lingering controversies, Cablebús represents an innovative form of transportation that will impact the most neglected areas of the Mexico City metropolitan area. All that is left now is to wait for Line 2 to become operational and for Line 3 and 4 to move past construction and planning. Meanwhile, as more federal projects come into spotlight, federal entities will have to better communicate their new and improved safety measures to assure users there will not be another fatal accident like that of Line 12.

The data used in this article was sourced from:  
MBN, Gobierno CDMX, Gobierno Federal
Lorenzo Núñez Lorenzo Núñez Junior Journalist & Industry Analyst