Blog 3 – Sustainable Urban Transportation Systems: A new solution to old challenges

Sustainable Urban Transportation Systems: A new solution to old challenges


In our second entry in the ‘EU Excellence in India’ blog series, Mr. Vikram Singhal, Managing Director & CEO of Doppelmayr India Pvt. Ltd. shares his views on the need for sustainable urban public transportation solutions.

As populations in major metropolitan regions in India continue to grow, the need for ‘green’, low-carbon mass urban transportation systems – that are also adaptive to the requirements for preventing the spread of viruses -has never been more important. Ensuring sustainability across urban transportation networks not only aims at achieving SDGs but also makes cities more livable, safer, and commuter-friendly.

Here, Mr. Singhal outlines the potential of aerial and surface-based ropeway systems as environmentally, economically and socially sustainable solutions to address current transportation challenges in urban India.


Sustainable Urban Transportation Systems: A new solution to old challenges

As cities and urban spaces in India and across the world continue to grow, the challenge of an efficient, sustainable, and low-cost public urban transportation system also becomes more significant.

Overcrowding of existing mass urban transportation systems and the exponential growth in personal vehicles seen in recent years have meant that the existing urban transport infrastructure has not been able to catch up with the demand.

The question arises: can this be addressed? Can we provide an alternative, safe, relatively low-cost, environmental-friendly, and sustainable mode of transportation? The answer is YES, provided the solution meets certain critical requirements.

Let’s have a closer look at each of these and how they should be interpreted:

  • Alternate – Does not further burden the present infrastructure and has a minimal disruption quotient.
  • Safe – Follows the most stringent global norms of passenger safety.
  • Cost-Effective – Low on Capital investment and Operating & Maintenance Costs.
  • Ecofriendly – Least carbon footprint.
  • Has a minimum ground footprint.
  • Affordable – Priced to be user friendly.
  • Inclusive – Can be conveniently used by all – from the elderly to the differently-abled to children.
  • Reliable – Consistent availability (99.5% +).
  • Lasting – Relates to longevity of the system/ equipment life.

In the Doppelmayr perspective, our systems can act as feeders and extensions for the metro system and as an ‘independent comprehensive mass transport system’ in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities.


What we do:

At Doopelmayr, we are engaged in the manufacturing and installation of urban ropeway systems. Such ropeway systems can be aerial (cabins suspended on a cable) or surface-based (coaches running on tracks).

With our vast experience in developing 15,000 ropeway systems world-wide, we provide cutting-edge technology to manufacture and supply both aerial and surface-based ropeway systems tailor-made to the specific urban landscape.


Why Ropeway Systems:

Urban ropeway systems are today acknowledged as one of the most sustainable and eco-friendly forms of urban transportation. A number of factors unique to ropeway systems make them ideal for not only tourist destinations but for densely populated towns and cities.

Some of these factors include:

  • Least capital investment amongst all mass transit systems.
  • Minimal footprint with least traffic disruption.
  • Zero pollution at point of installation.
  • Incremental scalability.
  • Least cost of operation and maintenance among mass transportation systems.
  • Ropeway systems (CEN) have been rated as the safest mode for commuting.

Besides these factors, ropeway systems also provide a host of other benefits, including:

  • Barrier-free mobility.
  • Low-space requirement.
  • Short realization times.
  • Seamless integration with other modes of public transportation.
  • Flexible station design options.
  • Maximum passenger safety and comfort.

Our Sustainable Approach to Mass Urban Public Transportation:

At Doppelmayr, we believe strongly in the concept of sustainability. Sustainability, for us, means meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability and resources of future generations.

Our products and installations focus on three aspects of sustainability:

  • Economic sustainability: Costs (acquisition to operation and maintenance) of a cable car system are in equilibrium in terms of the cost-benefit ratio.
  • Environmental sustainability: Addresses important aspects like cutting emissions, reducing waste, and noise pollution.
  • Social sustainability: This requires the system to be inclusive, accessible, and affordable for all.

These three factors must lie at the heart of our future development of efficient urban transport systems. In the Indian context, this approach should be more adaptable and flexible. For instance, ropeway systems for tourist destinations can consider a Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) model for development. On the other hand, with the need to cap public transportation fares, viability gap funding (VGF), or streamlining the execution of all aspects of the project solely through the state government can be considered.


Advantages of Ropeway Systems in the age of COVID-19:

Ropeway systems have the inherent advantage of high-availability and high-frequency, which can help regulating physical distancing in times of a pandemic like COVID-19. The system also lends to easier sanitization which would be a huge advantage. Furthermore, a minimal operating staff is required to operate the system.

As most urban ropeways in urban spaces provide last-mile connectivity and bridge gaps between lines/transit systems, they can be effectively used as an extension of logistical supply chain for delivery of essentials at the point of distribution.


What EU Excellence in India means to us:

The EU Excellence being promoted through EBTC, provides a superb platform for EU companies in India to showcase their technologies and products. For Doppelmayr, it holds tremendous opportunity to give the required visibility to its program of providing sustainable and safe mode of public transportation – for both the urban and tourist segments.  The collective strength on this platform would help in strategic tie-ups, be it with the government, private, or in manufacturing.


About Doppelmayr:

Doppelmayr is a 127-year-old Austrian company. It is by far the largest ropeway manufacturing company in the world. As a quality, technology, and market leader in ropeway engineering, Doppelmayr operates production plants as well as sales and service centers in over 50 countries worldwide. The Group, with its more than 15,000 installations in 96 countries has over 65% global market share. The ropeways are installed in all possible terrains with aerial and surface ropeway technology.


Sustainability lies at the very heart of the company’s ethos. Its core business is aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals of ‘Sustainable Cities and Communities’ and ‘Partnerships for Goals’.

Doppelmayr has also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with UN-HABITAT to establish ropeway systems as an easily integrable sustainable solution for urban mobility.

The company has developed and installed the largest standalone ropeway system in La Paz, Bolivia. The system currently operates 10 lines, covering up to 31 kilometres of urban space, and has a capacity of 62,000 passengers per hour.

In India, the company remains in close cooperation with the national policy think-tank NITI Aayog, the Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs and the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways.


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