Can cable cars cut crime in Rio’s favelas?
After trying in vain to bring down the rampant crime rate in Brazil's favelas by imposing a heavy police presence, president Lula da Silva is now taking an entirely different approach. His new plan is to build cable cars. Read more...
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View of Medellín from Metrocable. Posted by Gary Parkosewich on Flickr.
After trying in vain to bring down the rampant crime rate in Brazil's favelas by imposing a heavy police presence, president Lula da Silva is now taking an entirely different approach. His new plan? Build cable cars.
The first cable car will connect Complexo do Alemão - a sprawling mass of twelve favelas which share one of the highest crime rates in Rio - with the city's metro system. Construction of six stations and a three-kilometre cable way will cost around 80 million euros in total. The system, which is set to open in September, is expected to transport 30,000 people between the shantytowns and the city every day.
Inspiration for the project came from the Colombian city of Medellín, which was once the command-centre of drug lord Pablo Escobar and one of the most dangerous cities in the world. An ambitious urban planning project including libraries, schools and cable cars transformed the city's impoverished comunas. Within five years, Colombia's second largest city saw its homicide rate drop from more than 200 deaths for every hundred thousand inhabitants to around 62.
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> Promotional video for the cable car design in Rio. Posted on YouTube by "AliceKAulitz19121995".
“In Medellín, cable cars have meant a lot of social investment”
Daniel Casas is an engineer from Medellín, Colombia, where the cable car project was first put into place. The transport system, which opened in 2004, is called Metrocable.
I live in Robledo La Campiña, a neighbourhood close to the Metrocable, so I use it every day to go to work. It still takes me an hour to get downtown because the cable car station is not so close to my house and I have to take a bus to get there. But by paying one fare (for both bus and cable car), I save a lot of money.
The Metrocable is an important part of the transformation of the city. When you talked of areas like Vallejuelos or Pajarito before, nobody had ever heard of them. With the cable cars these neighbourhoods have all of a sudden started belonging to the city. People in these communities feel, for the first time in their lives, that they exist on the map.
Every Metrocable station has meant not only transport for these communities, but a lot of social investment: Enormous libraries and parks, schools, vaccination campaigns, football fields... The level of violence in the comunas has gone down considerably since then. People are taking good care of these facilities, which shows you how much they value them.
Medellín is no longer the Medellín of Pablo Escobar, which is the image it still carries worldwide. Sure, there are still some problems and occasional outbreaks of violence, but the same that are present in any large city."
The Medellín Metrocable in amateur images:
Cable car going up to Comuna 13, Medellín. Posted by Omar Urán on Flickr.
Cable car arriving at hilltop public library, Medellín. Posted by Dairo Correa on Flickr.
“The cable car seems to be part of a project to attract tourism to Complexo do Alemão, not to benefit the community”
David Amen works as a community leader in Complexo do Alemão, in Rio de Janeiro.
Transport is not our greatest need in Complexo do Alemão, as there are already minivans and motorcycle taxis. Making transport formal doesn't really solve the more serious problems our community faces.
Our most pressing needs are health and education. More than anything, we need decent schools, with good facilities and well-paid teachers. We need a health network that effectively covers the entire neighbourhood, with properly equipped hospitals. What we need are libraries, amphitheatres and public parks.
I don't support the cable car project personally because it seems to be part of a project to attract tourism to the city and to Complexo do Alemão. The cost of the cable car, of building it and maintaining it, is enormous. That money could perfectly be invested in other things."
Complexo do Alemão in amateur images:
Complexo do Alemão. Photo by Bruno Itan, courtesy of Memorias do PAC.
View of Complexo do Alemão. Photo by Alexandre Santos, courtesy of Memorias do PAC.
Stairway, Complexo do Alemão. Photo by Rafael Soares, courtesy of Memorias do PAC.
Construction, Complexo do Alemão. Photo by Rafael Soares, courtesy of Memorias do PAC.