Medellín’s Metrocable – Mobility as fundamental factor of integrated and inclusive urban development

Icons use case study city info



Icons use case study main actors

Main actors

City Government, Private Sector, Community / Citizen Group

Icons use case study project area

Project area

Whole City/Administrative Region

Icons use case study duration


Ongoing since 2004/01

In 2004, Medellín opened the first cable car as part of a public transport system worldwide. This gondola lift is supported by the municipality and embedded in an integrated urban development programme. It creates opportunities for the city's poor population and reduces marginalization.

Since the start of the millennium, local government has initiated comprehensive and integrated interventions in order to upgrade the districts in collaboration with their communities. Within 14 months, construction of cable car route K in the Santo Domingo Savio neighborhood was completed. It also directly connects to the central metro line of Medellín. Moreover, the project provided for investments in a public library, kindergartens, public space and sports facilities.

Originally published by the International Community of Practice for Sustainable Urban Development CONNECTIVE CITIES:

Sustainable Development Goals

End poverty in all its forms everywhere
Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation
Reduce inequality within and among countries
Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels

Sustainable Transport Award

This project was awarded the 'Sustainable Transport Award' in 2012.

Medellín, Colombia

Size and population development
2011: 3,694,000; 1990: 2,135,000; 2025: 4,873,000; 2010-2015: +2.51%/year

Main functions
Capital City of Antioquia, renowned as an innovative city; won the Veronica Rudge Urbanism Award conferred by Harvard University in 2013; once famous for being the most violent city in the world due to conflicts caused by drug cartels

Main industries / business
Main industries include tourism, steel, textiles, processed foods, chemicals/oil

Political structure
Republican democratic system; political departments such as social mobility, urban culture, education etc.

Administrative structure
Mayor and municipal council, belongs to the Medellín Metropolitan Area (10 municipalities), the city itself is divided into six zones and five townships, which in turn are divided into 16 comunas, which consist of 249 barrios

The city of Medellín stretches from a narrow valley to vast areas on hilly slopes. The latter settlements often resulted from informal settling processes and are characterized by poverty of inhabitants. Insufficient transport, low presence of state institutions and lack of public services inhibited development and employment opportunities for residents. Furthermore, these problems have contributed to physical and social marginalization of those districts. Poor access to the labor market, increasing lack of opportunities as well as high crime and violence rates were the result. 

Local government has been implementing the integrated urban projects (PUI) since 2003. They actively involve the affected population in planning and implementation of projects.  Inter-institutional cooperation promotes the planning and development of comprehensive concepts, meanwhile known as “Social Urbanism”. The first metrocable route K was inaugurated in 2004 and the second route J opened in 2008. In 2011, the metro system was complemented by Metroplus, a Bus-Rapid-Transit. Its large, energy-saving buses use separate bus lanes, similar to a metro or tram.

Equal access to mobility has been one of the most important issues in Medellín's urban development planning. Two additional cable car routes are being planned and the first tramway Ayacucho is expected to be finished in 2014. Improving the city’s ecosystem and connecting leisure and sports facilities with the planned green belt are further important projects.

Metrocable line K reaches around 230,000 inhabitants in 12 localities and links the city’s Northeast with its center. It reduces the average transfer time from 120 to 65 minutes. Route J potentially serves 315,000 inhabitants in 37 districts, where additional housing is currently being developed. Further projects have been initiated in the East, Northwest and West. Integration to Medellín’s public transport system through the cable car increases comfort and reduces expenditures on time and costs. Particularly low-income customers save money because they pay per ride, independently from the distance travelled. The “Civic Card”, a rechargeable swipe card, reduces waiting time since commuters can pay for their rides in advance.

Introducing the Metrocable and connecting marginalized areas were the starting point for a physical and social transformation of Medellín and its communities. A process of mutual appreciation was set out, also contributing to a greater sense of belonging. The formerly excluded population is now more included in the city’s social, economic and political life. They also participated in the decision-making on future urban development projects. Meanwhile, the newly connected neighborhoods have been upgraded noticeably: Local businesses have settled and crime rates went down.

The experience in Medellín inspired Caracas (Venezuela's capital city) to build its own Metrocable. While Caracas was opening its Metrocable system, Medellín was launching its third line. More information about the experience in Caracas is available here:

- Medellín’s Metrocable – Mobility as Fundamental Factor of Integrated and Inclusive Urban Development, (accessed 25 February 2016).

External links / documents

On the Map

Map placeholder

Want to know more about this project?

Connective Cities
Bonn, Germany

Connective Cities

Institution | International Community of Practice for Sustainable Urban Develop­ment

Andrés Fernandez
Medellín, Colombia

Andrés Fernandez

Individual | Public Relationship

Photo gallery

Related case studies

Revitalizing cultural heritage in Jakarta’s historic Kota Tua neighborhood
Jakarta, Indonesia

Revitalizing cultural heritage in Jakarta’s his...

The city government of Jakarta has developed a comprehensive urban plan to revitalize the historic neighborhood of Kota Tua in an inclusive and participatory way.

Participation for Neighborhood Improvement and Co-existence
Heredia, Costa Rica

Participation for Neighborhood Improvement and ...

This project aims towards neighborhood improvement by combining upgrading of public space with capacity building.

ITS Factory
Tampere, Finland

ITS Factory

ITS Factory is a collaborative space where developers, companies, research organisations and individuals come together to create new intelligent transport systems and services (ITS).