The Urban Development Corporation (EDU) are now looking for private investment as mayor Aníbal Gaviria announces that the cities ‘Fund for Life’ will finance the development of an urban tram system and not the monorail solution the EDU are promoting.
The tram system will travel along the the 80 street, and provide a link to the westerly neighbourhoods which are currently not served by the metro and cable car system which operate in the city. The monorail project is estimated to cost between 150 and 200 million dollars, and it is hoped that this money will be raised with private investment.
The city already has an extensive transport network including two metro lines, 55 stations, three cable car routes, two bus routes, 20 feeder routes and 130 further privately operated bus routes which have an integrated payment system, following an agreement with the cities bus alliance. The first tram line will travel from the center to the north, and the planned 80 street tram will cover the west of the city.
Given the existing extensive coverage and planned improvements, some critics believe the monorail line, which will connect the northwest and the east of the center, is unnecessary and not financially viable.
Despite these claims, Margarita Angel Bernal, Director of the EDU, has explained that the project will continue and the studies are expected to be completed before the end of mayor Gaviria’s term in 2015.
The EDU are keen to proceed with the project, arguing that it is a key aspect of building an environmentally sustainable city and that it will connect marginalized areas of the city. It is also argued that Medellin’s development has been boosted by public transport investment, and that further projects will continue this trend.
Miss Bernal has reaffirmed the importance of urban access and connectivity, asserting the close link between urban transport efficiency and economic development. She also noted that just because the tram was the chosen recipient by ‘Fund for Life’, it doesn’t mean that the monorail project will not also be viable, profitable and a valuable addition.
The EDU are confident that private investors will see the long-term profitability of the proposed project and that workable plans can be in place within the next 12 months. They hope to agree both private and public investment in the project, which they believe will play a key role in the cities development. It is expected that the majority of private investment will come from international companies, some of whom may work with domestically based partners.
EDU predict that the monorail would have been 40,000 and 50,000 users per day. Studies are also looking at how the monorail could be integrated with existing transport systems in the area. One proposal considered would feature 8 stations and would be integrated with Alejandro Echavarria, Miraflores and La Cruz cable car stations, which would provide quick access to Santo Domingo.
The EDU has so far invested more than 500 million pesos in initial studies and talks with private investors are ongoing. EDU claim that a number of international organizations have offered to provide grants for the studies, with major interest from Japan, as they look to secure long-term involvement in the project. The studies are on course to be completed on schedule, and if private investment is secured then the project may be ready to begin before the end of the current administration.