Saturday, November 26, 2022

Swinging Above the Slums

Last Sunday, Alejandro and I traveled on one of Mexico City's new aerial cable cars known as the "cablebús".  Last year two "cablebús" routes were completed and another one is under construction.  They serve densely populated areas of the city where public transportation is difficult.  The route that Alejandro and I took crosses the borough of Iztapalapa. It runs for over 6.5 miles above the district and is the longest aerial tramway in the world.

Iztapalapa is the largest and most populated borough in Mexico City with more than 1.8 million residents.  It is also one of the poorest parts of the city.  More than 40% of the population lives in poverty, and some homes do not even have running water.  It also has one of the highest crime rates in the city.  This is definitely not a part of the city where I, or even Alejandro, would want to wander around on our own, but the "cablebús" gave us the opportunity to see this part of the city from above.

We took the subway to the "Constitución de 1917" metro station from which you can access one end of the "cablebús" route.  The cabins never stop.  As they enter the station, the doors open, and you hop into the cabin as it is moving.  It sounds sort of scary, but it is not.  Each cabin can carry up to ten people.

    And then you head out over Itzapalapa.

In many places you are not that high above the rooftops of the neighborhood, and you get some sense of life in Iztapalapa.  You can see women hanging their clothes on the roofs and young people playing soccer.  You can hear roosters crowing and music blaring. 

At one point we could even see and hear a small parade on the street below in celebration of Revolution Day.

There are six stations along the route.  Halfway you have to switch cars.

There were many places where the houses climbing the hillsides reminded my of the "favelas" of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil.

Toward the end of the route, the "cablebús" crosses the highway that goes east to Puebla.

Just beyond the highway is the end of the line, the "Santa Marta" station which connects with the subway.

What makes the journey even more fascinating is that the construction of this aerial tram has spurred an explosion of street art and "roof art".  Countless walls and roofs beneath the route have been painted, presenting an art exhibit to the passengers above.


Even though the "cablebús" was not built as a tourist attraction, I highly recommend it to visitors to the city.  I look forward to taking the other "cablebús" route on my next trip to Mexico. 


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