ORURO, Bolivia – Residents and visitors in the city of Oruro, high in the Andes, celebrated Carnival on Friday with a new cable car system which the Bolivian government hopes will equal the success of the capital network that set a world record for ridership.
Bolivia’s first initiative using cable cars for mass transit was launched in 2014 to connect La Paz with neighboring El Alto.
Last month, the La Paz system set a Guinness World Record, with more than 100 million passengers since starting operation.
The cable cars made their debut Wednesday in Oruro, a city of 285,000 people 3,700 meters (12,131 ft) above sea level.
While the first stretch was built mainly as a tourist attraction, the aim is to extend it throughout the city as a transit system.
“I wish we had had this before, it would have been much better,” Oruro resident Andres Zeballos told EFE, referring to construction delays.
To speed up the project, the Bolivian central government had to contribute half of the $128 million cost. The regional government covered 30 percent and the city chipped in the remaining 20 percent.
The initial route 829 meters long and the journey takes three minutes from end to end. The 16 cars can transport a thousand passengers per hour.
Zeballos, while expressing the wish of many Oruro residents to see the cable car system extended to other parts of the city, acknowledged that the opening of the pilot route in time for Carnival was “a good thing.”