Unconventional Public Transit Project of the Day

An urban escalator opens in hilly Medellin slum

Image
BBC

Climbing up the steep and narrow streets of the Comuna 13 neighborhood of Medellin, Colombia, is getting a lot easier.

The city has nearly finished construction of a six-section outdoor escalator system stretching more than 1,200 feet up into the slum neighborhood. According to this article from the BBC, the escalators cut travel time up the hill from more than a half hour to just six minutes.

The two-way escalators are free to ride and cost about $7 million to build. They’ll serve the neighborhood’s 12,000 people with a planned three hours of service per day. It’s part of a transportation effort aimed at the city’s poor – a project that also includes the city’s Metrocable gondola system.

Medellin is one of a growing number of cities to take this shopping mall innovation to the public realm. Hong Kong’s Mid-Levels neighborhood is home to the world’s longest outdoor covered escalator, comprised of 20 escalators and three moving walkways. Barcelona also has a series of outdoor escalators connecting neighborhoods to amenities like Parc Guell.

The escalator in Medellin is currently uncovered, but officials plan to build weather-proof covering. The cost of maintaining the escalators, however, is unclear.

Image via BBC

About the Author

  • Nate Berg is a freelance reporter and a former staff writer for CityLab. He lives in Los Angeles.