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Opportunities and obstacles of urban ropeway systems in Baden Württemberg, Germany

Opportunities and obstacles of urban ropeway systems in Baden Württemberg, Germany
Project team:

Puhe, Maike (Project leader); Max Reichenbach


Baden-Württemberg Ministry of Transport

Start date:


End date:


Project partners:

KIT: Institute for Transport Studies (IfV)

Research area:

Innovation processes and impacts of technology

Project description

In recent years, transport experts and urban planners have time and again discussed urban ropeway systems as innovative and sustainable solution in support of existing public urban transport systems. Many examples around the world show that urban ropeways offer a unique travel experience for its users and can reduce travel times. Ropeway installations do not only serve as a tourist attraction, but can also be fully integrated into existing public transport systems (e.g. regarding timetables and tariffs). This could encourage people to make more use of public transport. Ropeways can be used to overcome topographic, architectural or traffic barriers, to reach areas with poor public transport or highly frequented areas, or act as feeders to existing public transport nodes. Cabins allow barrier-free access for wheelchair users and cyclists. Moreover, in many places, public transport networks cannot be further expanded as they have already reached capacity or spatial limits. Here, urban ropeways could provide additional capacity with relatively little effort and expense. While in other parts of the world ropeways have already been established as a complementary urban transport system (e.g. Colombia, Bolivia), in Germany most ideas have so far failed to get off the ground.

In recent years, however, the number of project ideas on the use of ropeways in urban areas has increased significantly. It is striking that, in a number of cases, such concepts have met substantial resistance from professionals (such as transport companies or authorities) and the population, which prevented the realization of such projects. We will ask whether this resistance is based on quantifiable factors and whether transport planning routines or attitudes and interests of actors hamper the implementation.

In a first step, we insight into both successful and unsuccessful urban ropeway projects in Germany was provided. In semi-structured expert interviews we actor dynamics were analyzed, also looking at whether they trigger or hamper the course of ropeway projects. Three cities in Baden-Württemberg were then analyzed qualitatively by conducting focus group discussions with the public and stakeholder workshops in order to identify conflicts of interest, goals, and norms and values at stake. Additionally, for one of the cities, the impact of a potential urban ropeway line and the suitability of microscopic transport models and standard assessment methods for urban ropeways were analyzed.

Detailed results

The detailed results of the project can be found in the following reports (in German):

  • Handlungsleitfaden Urbane Luftseilbahnen: Empfehlungen aus dem Projekt „Hoch hinaus“
    Reichenbach, M.; Puhe, M. (2018)
    Summary of main results and recommendations
  • Arbeitsbericht Nr. 2:
    Urbane Seilbahnen in Baden-Württemberg: Explorative Analyse von Bürgersicht, Expertenmeinungen und Planungshürden
    Reichenbach, M.; Puhe, M.; Soylu, T.; von Behren, S.; Chlond, B. (2017)
    Results from expert and citizen workshops in Heidelberg, Stuttgart and Konstanz; quantitative analysis for the of Stuttgart
  • Arbeitsbericht Nr. 1:
    Praxis urbaner Luftseilbahnen
    Reichenbach, M.; Puhe, M. (2016)
    Updated version as “KIT Scientific Working Paper”:
    Praxis urbaner Luftseilbahnen
    Reichenbach, M.; Puhe, M. (2017)
    Typical cases for urban ropeways; analysis of previous urban ropeway projects in Germany



Dipl.-Geogr. Maike Puhe
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)
Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis (ITAS)
P.O. Box 3640
76021 Karlsruhe

Tel.: +49 721 608-26487