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Cable Cars in Varanasi…as Public Transport

I still remember one of the vacations I had been to as a kid – a trip to the holy land of Haridwar. One of the popular places to visit is the Mansa Devi Temple, situated on top of the Bilwa Parvat on the Sivalik Hills. Either we could have taken a fairly steep walk to get there or take a comfortable cable car ride. We opted for the latter, the 5 minutes ride (don’t exactly remember the time) – was remarkable. Suspended in the air and getting to view sights below was splendid and filled with excitement.

If you have visited places like Darjeeling, Vishakhpatnam, Switzerland, Australia, Cape town and so many places around the world, chances are that you must have also taken one of these cable cars and would resonate with that wonderful feeling. The common purpose of most of these rides are to reach a tourist attraction in mountainous terrain.

Majority of these cable cars are attached on electric-powered steel cables that can move the car from one point to another at an average speed of 10 to 20km/h.

As a Public Transport

In the last few years, these aerial cars are also being used as an alternative to the conventional public transport system i.e. buses, trains etc. While many of the Latin Amercian cities were the early adopters of this system, Medellin in Columbia became the first place in the world to use cable cars. The trend has quickly spread to other cities of the world like London, Yeosu, Hong Kong. World Bank did a research where they looked at 25 projects in 14 cities – the findings were that urban cable cars have an average route lengths of 2.7-km, and typical operating capacity of 1,000-2,000 passengers per hour per direction.

Now in India

Recently Ministry of Transport of Indian government has indicated that it is exploring ropeways as urban transport option and Varanasi might become first city to implement it. Varanasi is a major religious centre of India, believed to be in existence from several thousand years on the banks of holy river Ganga. The city is now a buzzing hub of economic activities, with over 1.5 million population, the majority of whom are in manufacturing, trade and weaving industry. Tourism is another major industry, about 6 million domestic tourists and about a million foreign tourists visit the temple town every year. With such a massive congregation of humans at one place, there is a big need for a modern and effective mode of transport.

Imagine if one could travel around the banks of the river on a cable car – soaking in the atmosphere, the tranquility, saints and priests meditating, kids diving and playing in the holy waters. It would indeed be an experience worth cherishing.

The cable cars system not only provide accessibility but will offer many other benefits as well –

  • Electricity powered system is much more energy efficient compared to other modes of transport which is on diesel and petrol.
  • Reduce the road congestion, there is no honking and is pollution free
  • The initial setup cost is substantially lower than railways and metro.
  • Cheaper and affordable
  • Based on the number of inhabitants/commuters and demand, the size of the car can be decided.

Cable cars can never be a replacement of the conventional modes of transport, but it can definitely offer a complimentary energy efficient solution. Not to forget the touristy aspect of the ride.

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