The urban transport situation in Latin America is not ideal. Large cities have expanded based on an unsustainable model and with little planning when structuring public areas.

Cities in the region have traditionally privileged car use over public transport, and maintained or reinforced physical segregation, creating the need for long commutes for large segments of the population.

Latin America is currently the most urbanized region in the developing world, with 80% of the population - some 500 million people - living in cities. This level of urbanization could reach 85% in 2025, according to the forecasts of organizations such as the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).

All these people need to get around. To tackle congestion, reduce long travel times and minimize the negative economic impact, the continent is developing cutting-edge ideas that are attracting worldwide attention.

Along with innovative bus rapid transit (BRT) systems - a purely Latin American creation - there is a growing use of cable cars as an effective urban transportation alternative, connected to mass transit systems like BRTs and metros.

Sugarloaf cable car in Brazil's Rio de Janeiro. (CREDIT: AFP)

Cities in Colombia, Venezuela, Bolivia, Chile, Peru and Mexico are attempting to decongest their streets, improve travel times in densely populated urban areas, overcome geographical barriers and integrate the most deprived communities by using cable car systems.

Proponents of this transport method emphasize its advantages. Cable cars are much cheaper to build than subway lines and less invasive than other surface transportation systems. They also tend to be more energy efficient and environmentally friendly, as they do not pollute. Also, given the panoramic views they offer, they can become tourist attractions.

Graph: Projected Urban Population in Latin America


Portada Intelligence Series

Purchase this Intelligence Series report to gain access to the full analysis.

  • Interviews with top experts in the field
  • Key challenges and trends, forward-looking analysis
  • Read the report online, or download a PDF
Go to Reports Buy now