One of the exciting things that happened this year in La Paz was the opening of the first line of the Teleferico, a cable car public transportation system.
La Paz traffic is truly terrible and the bane of many paceños (people from La Paz) existence. During peak hour you’re often better off walking as large chunks of the city descend into gridlock. To make matters worse, there are three peak hours per day as many workers travel home to have lunch with their families. Travelling just a few kilometres can take up to an hour or more.
To alleviate the issue, the government proposed an ambitious although expensive solution. Mi Teleferico is the world’s highest altitude cable car system. Upon completion it will also be the longest, with one line stretching over 4km. Passengers will be able to travel from the satellite city of El Alto all the way down to the south area of La Paz in a fraction of the time. The construction is being done by an Austrian company at a cost of US$280 million. Despite the huge price tag, a one way fare only costs 0.40c, so it’s got to be running at a pretty significant loss. Having such a cheap fare is essential for it’s viability. Otherwise, Bolivians would ignore it in favour of the existing cheap bus network.
I tried out the currently operating red line with the missus’ family and loved it. The centre to El Alto takes only 10 minutes instead of the usual 1.5 hours in heavy traffic. The ride was quiet, spacious, clean and of course had amazing views – pretty much the opposite of travelling by bus.
The queue at each station was massive so it’s definitely proving popular. Although it was hard to tell how many of those people were genuine commuters vs those just checking it out for the first time.
The remaining two lines are scheduled to be open just in time for this year’s election, which is definitely not a coincidence.