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Abstract

The TransMiCable is an aerial cable car route that was inaugurated in December 2018, in Bogotá, Colombia. This paper examines the impacts of the TransMiCable on public transit accessibility and mobility through an ethnographic case study of two barrios in Ciudad Bolivar, a poor peripheral locality of Bogotá where the aerial cable car route was built. Although the aerial cable car is not a common form of public transit in the United States, it is a promising mode of transportation in regions like the mountainous Andes of South America, where geography limits the efficiency and feasibility of more traditional modes like cars, buses, subways, and trains. The aerial cable car is a relatively new mode of public transit, which gained widespread interest from policy-makers and academics after it was successfully implemented in Medellín, Colombia. My research addresses two central questions: How do peripheral residents in Ciudad Bolívar perceive the impact of the TransMiCable aerial cable car route on their urban mobility? And, how can city government policies and investments in public transit, particularly aerial cable cars, address historic inequality and improve public transit accessibility? My case study of Paraíso and Mirador, the two barrios at the end of the TransMiCable route, included 13 interviews and 8 group observations, mainly conducted with adult residents of Ciudad Bolívar. Interview questions and observations were designed to elicit participants’ subjective experiences with public transit, and their perceptions of the TransMiCable’s impact. This paper concludes that TransMiCable users’ commutes to the urban core are faster, safer, and more comfortable than before. The TransMiCable inspires pride and hope for some residents of Ciudad Bolívar. But respondents also identified limitations which prevented them from enjoying better mobility despite the new TransMiCable route. TransMiCable users in my research explained that although they saved a significant amount of time using the aerial cable cars instead of a public bus, budget constraints still prevented them from participating in activities around their city. From a policy perspective, my findings are particularly relevant for Bogotá and other cities with similar geographic and spatial-economic contexts, namely urban centers experiencing high income inequality with poorer residents located on the mountainous periphery.

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