German Ministry of Transport Examines Urban Cable Transport Systems

© zatran GmbH
This is what an urban cable car could look like in the city.

Stuttgart, Germany, December 21, 2020. The Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI) has commissioned the Stuttgart planning and consulting company Drees & Sommer SE and the Institute of Transportation Research Stuttgart (VWI)to compile a joint report on the urban and transport planning integration of urban cable transport projects. The result should be a guideline for the implementation of cable transport systems as a component of public passenger transport, which is due to be presented in two years.

‘With this study and guideline we want to create incentives to promote sustainable mobility in an urban context and to supplement the public transport system in a sensible way”, says Steffen Bilger, the Parliamentary Secretary of State in the Federal Ministry of Transport.

Studying the cable transport systems in the cities of Medellín, La Paz, New York, Portland, Algiers, Lisbon, Brest, Bolzano, London and Ankara is therefore an element of the joint study by Drees & Sommer and the Institute of Transportation Research.

In the analysis of the eight example cities, the study focuses on the designated purpose of the cable transport system, the planning process, integration into the urban context, the links with the wider public transport system and the effects on transport and traffic. The aim is to derive insights for possible cable transport projects in Germany.

A Mode of Transport with an Unbeatable Cost-to-Benefit Ratio

Stefan Tritschler from the Institute of Transportation Research, the deputy project manager of the study, explains: ‘Traffic congestion, air pollution, traffic noise, excess use of land and traffic accidents force us to reduce the existing traffic burden. Cable transport systems use overhead space and are largely independent from other modes of transport, they are technically sophisticated and hardly produce any local pollutant emissions. Above all, they are quieter, safe, efficient and can be implemented in a relatively short time.’

Very Little Practical Experience with Urban Cable Suspension Transport Systems in Germany

Apart from the suspended cable cars in the mountains, the only cable car systems in German cities are in Berlin, Koblenz and Cologne, where they were constructed for the German Garden Exhibition. The fact that cable transport systems sometimes need to pass over residential buildings often meets with resistance from the residents. ‘Many people are convinced of the advantages of an urban cable transport system, but nobody wants it to pass by their home, especially not their bedroom or living room windows’, says Stefan Tritschler.

Koblenz: Hands off Our Cable Car

Experience shows that once a cable car has become a part of local transit, public acceptance increases rapidly. The German city of Koblenz is one example of how popular an urban cable car can be. Built for the 2011 National Garden Show, the city’s cable car was supposed to be dismantled shortly thereafter. But a Koblenz citizen initiative dedicated itself to its preservation. Drees & Sommer advised the builder during the competition and selection process.

‘A transparent process is key to ensuring that the cable car does not fall to the opposition of the affected citizens. ‘If cable cars are to be a part of the local transit picture in Germany too, involving citizens right from the start is vital. People’s concerns can only be addressed and alleviated by seeking dialog and proactively communicating,’ summarizes Sebastian Beck, Project manager of the study and infrastructure expert at Drees & Sommer.

The joint working group of Drees & Sommer and the Institute of Transportation Research (VWI) will carry out workshops in several German cities as part of its work to compile the guideline.