In Santiago

Chile’s capital city eyes innovative transportation solution

Creative gondola plan could help reduce commuter traffic and improve connections between key business districts.

Thursday, November 24, 2011 Category: Business
Providencia skyscrapers set against the Andes mountains. (Photo by Wuerschi/Flickr) Providencia skyscrapers set against the Andes mountains. (Photo by Wuerschi/Flickr)

Imagine if your morning commute included sweeping aerial views of skyscrapers and mountains as you sipped your coffee, skimmed the news and rode into the office - on a gondola.

The thrumming financial center in the Chilean capital has taken the first small step towards an innovative solution to the traffic that plagues most global cities during commuting hours. The plan, by the urban design firm Nueva Vías, proposes an air-borne gondola network from the commercial sector of Ciudad Empresarial to the metro station Tobalaba in the upscale district of Las Condes.

The design is roughly based on the colorful “teleféricos” that dot the urban park on Cerro San Cristóbal, as well as a similar system in Medellín, Colombia. One especially innovative feature is the inclusion of a small solar panel to power interior illumination in the cars, which will hang from thick steel cables stretched between support poles.

Earlier this year, the public works ministry deemed the proposal “in the public interest,” and requested an additional feasibility study about extending the 2.6 mile (4.6 km) gondola route to the financial district known as “Sanhattan” in downtown Santiago.

The extension to Sanhattan would extend the total number of gondola stations to six, including stations along the Mapocho River in Providencia (see map).

The project has been christened the Teleférico Bicentenario, or the Bicentennial Gondola, in honor of Chile celebrating its 200 years of independence in September 2010. If approved, construction could begin by 2014.

“We are working to strengthen and improve different forms of public transportation. And we see the Teleférico Bicentenario in a very positive light, since it’s looking to offer more connectivity to more people during the commute hours,” Minister Pedro Pablo Errázuriz told local newspaper La Tercera.

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