When traffic congestion became too much, when the current system of public transportation wasn’t cutting it anymore, the Columbian city of Medellín found a very unique solution: the Metrocable system. The concept of cable cars is nothing new to skiers around the world, but to city planners it must be a fairly new concept.
The city is apparently loving the new system. It was comparatively cheap to construct and it runs partially on solar power, making it comparatively cheap to operate. The Metrocable fits Medellín’s needs because the hills surrounding the city are filled with poor neighborhoods where commuting can be quite difficult. The cable car system easily connects those neighborhoods to the heart of the city.
As for widespread feasibility, there are some definite drawbacks. For one, the frequency of stops would be a problem. A bus or train can stop any number of times but a cable car stop every couple of city blocks would start a whole new kind of congestion and commuters would find themselves backtracking so much that it would offset the benefits. The use of solar power is nice, but hardly more feasible than solar buses or trains. The Metrocable does harness solar power but conventional energy still moves the cars.
The Metrocable is working well for Medellín. The fact that they are using solar power makes it all the more appealing. Yet it looks like more of a specific or idiosyncratic example. The geography of the area makes sense for this type of transit. Nonetheless, it is inventive, at least partially eco-friendly, and serves the community. What more can you ask from public transit?