In recent years, Medellín has won a number of awards for management and urban planning, culminating in 2016, with the highest honour possible for a city: the Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize. This prestigious prize –whose only previous winners are the cities of Suzhou, New York and Bilbao– is awarded after thorough assessment of specific initiatives to transform urban environments, generating social, economic and environmental benefits that serve as a model for communities around the world.
The management of transport in the city of Medellín has much to do with this success. More than 20 years of ‘Metro Culture’ have resulted in a significant decrease in inequality and an upsurge in civic spirit and modernity. With its positive and uncompromising policy of social transport, for the past 22 years, Metro de Medellín has been the torch bearer lighting the way to new paths for this city of 2.5 million inhabitants, which used to be synonymous with danger. Medellín’s public transport network, which today boasts a metro system, Metrocable, buses and bicycles, and is accessible through a single-ticket system, has managed to unite the city’s districts and pull its people out of the ghettos. It has also helped reduce traffic congestion and noise and pollution levels. What is more, it has become an exemplary urban transport system thanks to the participation of citizens.
In an interview with Itransporte, Tomás Elejalde, the general manager of Metro de Medellín, tells us that “Metrocable is one of our most innovative projects because, although cable car technology has existed for many years, Medellín is the first city in the world to use it for medium-capacity public transport and integrate it into a multimodal network like the one operated by Metro de Medellín.” Elejalde adds that this system was necessary due to the Medellín metropolitan area’s geographic characteristics and location in a narrow valley whose mountainsides are home to people with limited economic resources. “Thanks to the Metrocable lines, the inhabitants of these districts are now able to integrate with the rest of the territory rapidly, economically and safely. We currently have four in commercial operation, one under construction and another one whose construction contract has just been awarded,” he concludes.
Since 2011, Ineco has collaborated with Metro de Medellín on, among other work, upgrading its fleet, overseeing the design, manufacture, reception and commissioning of its new CAF trains, including onboard signalling equipment (ATC).