Bolivia’s Shiny, Horrifying Urban Aerial Cable Car System Is The Biggest In The World

The dream of flying above congested traffic come true. The system will climb 1,640 feet into the air, span a length of seven miles, and move 18,000 passengers each hour.

Bolivia is building the longest and highest system of urban cable cars in the world, shuttling travelers between La Paz, the administrative capital of Bolivia, and El Alto, the highest metropolis in the world. The statistics on the Mi Teleferico system are dizzying for anyone with a fear of heights: It climbs 1,640 feet into the air, spans a length of seven miles, has 11 stations, and can move 18,000 passengers each hour.


Height aside, the $234 million cable car system sounds like a boon for La Paz and El Alto, which are often plagued by crushing traffic jams. For every driver who has daydreamed about flying above the traffic below, this is the flying dream manifested in real life.

Every few years, it seems that another city installs a controversial cable car system. In Portland, Oregon, an aerial tram connects Oregon Health and Science University to the city, invoking the ire of residents living below the tram line. In Rio De Janeiro, city officials are installing cable car systems in favelas, touting them as transportation systems for residents, when in reality they’re more likely to be used by tourists in town for the World Cup and the 2016 Olympics.

Mi Teleferico is not without controversy. It may cost more than the average bus fare, though officials have told the Guardian that it will be competitive with ground transport prices. More issues will undoubtedly pop up as the system, which is still being built, continues to come online. The first of three cable car lines opens this May.

Mostly, residents seem excited. The first wedding on the cable cars has already occurred, and one El Alto resident explained to the Guardian that the cable cars will cut down her daily commute to La Paz by half an hour each way. Plus, the cable cars will ease pollution since they run on electricity and replace cars for some residents (most of Bolivia runs on energy from thermal power stations, but that’s another story).

Check out pictures of Mi Teleferico in the slide show above.

About the author

Ariel Schwartz is a Senior Editor at Co.Exist. She has contributed to SF Weekly, Popular Science, Inhabitat, Greenbiz, NBC Bay Area, GOOD Magazine and more.