During an interview with SI, Anton Seeber, President of LEITNER Group, talks about the political pressure in favor of urban cableways in South America, the concerns and resentment against them in Europe, and why the future speaks for urban cableways.
SI Urban: Mr. Seeber, how do you assess the prevailing mood to urban cableways in society? Anton Seeber: “I have to differentiate here. In Europe, the classic view — that a cableway belongs on a mountain — still prevails. Here, the greatest obstacles to implementing urban cableways are the private sector and the fact that it flies over private property.
In addition, there is the psychologically conditioned fear of accidents, falls and standstills. The fact is that the cableway is the second safest means of transport after the airplane. We need to dispel people’s fear that cableways are dangerous gerous. South America and Asia, on the other hand, have such big traffic problems that political pressure to build urban cableways is extremely high there and the local population practically insists on them.
Does this mean that urban cableways are a means of mass-transport of the future? No. A cableway has its limits in length, travel speed; transport capacity and can never transport as many people as, for example, a subway or trains. But a cableway is a necessary complement to urban mass-transport systems.
To what extent? To the extent in which it can help people avoid multiple-connections and bring them to the access points for bus-, train- or subway lines at all. It is only thanks to a cableway that the approx. 200,000 inhabitants of the city quarter of Ecatepec de Morelos can effectively make use of the regular mass-transport network in Mexico City.
That sets multiple positive developments in motion. Can you name any more examples? In the Colombian city of Medellin, the crime rate dropped because people can get to their work places safely and within a reasonable time. Moreover, the residents are proud of their cableway. Indeed, people beautify their houses because the cable car glides above their heads.
Proximity to the cableway becomes a status-symbol; in Ankara, for example, the value of buildings located in the proximity of cableway stations has grown considerably. Even politicians benefit from the improved quality of life. They can implement prestigious projects within the legislative period, quickly and on favorable terms.
“It is only thanks to a cableway that the approx. 200,000 inhabitants of the city quarter of Ecatepec de Morelos can effectively make use of the regular mass-transport network in Mexico City,” explains Anton Seeber. Photos: LEITNER ropeways
The advantages, then, are numerous. How can you sell them in Europe? By participating in debates and proposing solutions and submitting examples and studies. But it is clear that we, as a manufacturer, eventually reach a point where we can do nothing more and it is political will that decides. So how do you assess the potential for urban cableways?
I am confident that an urban installation will be set up in every larger city where there are traffic problems that can be solved by a cableway and there is a political will to build it. Here, the trend towards nature conservation helps greatly. A LEITNER-cableway with its energy-efficient electrical engine and our gearless drive system is especially environment-friendly.
Can you already see the impact of this development on your business results? Indeed we do. Since 2004, our urban and touristic cableways sales have grown continuously from zero to approx. 30 per cent. This diversification of activities is necessary in order to develop new employment opportunities within our group of companies but also to secure them for the long term. Anton Seeber was interviewed by Thomas Surrer (ts).