Friday, December 8, 2023

Los Alcarrizos Cable Car: why did it cost 50% more than the previous one?

Although at first glance the differences between line 1 and line 2 of the Santo Domingo Cable Car seem to be limited to the colors of their cabins, in reality, the particular characteristics of the works go beyond, even, the cost. In fact, the amounts invested in each infrastructure have a difference of almost 50%.

While line 1 of the Santo Domingo cable car, inaugurated in 2018, cost about RD$4.5 billion, with a length of about five kilometers (km), line 2, which operates in Los Alcarrizos, and which came into operation in 2023, involved more than RD$6,697 million, with an extension of 4.20 kilometers. This is how they present a variation of 48.82%, that is, RD$2,197 million more.

However, for the director of the Office for the Development of Urban and Interurban Mobility Projects (Fitram), Jhael Isa, comparisons are not valid. “The first thing is that they are not the same systems,” he says, while clarifying that the recently inaugurated work exceeds the capacity of the first line by 50%.


The executive is not limited to technical data. He exemplifies and explains that the electromechanical system of line 1 of the cable car has a capacity of 3,000 passengers per hour and direction, while line 2 is 4,500, for a difference of 1,500 users. To the above is added that the first moves at about five meters per second while the second is seven meters above the second.

While line 1 only has power for 10 users, line 2 reaches up to 12. For Isa, this directly impacts the cost of the system at a comparative level. “That’s why the two systems are not comparable,” she says. In fact, when delving into the variations between both works, they extend.

The work, inaugurated in 2018, is made up of 36 20-meter-high towers and 195 cabins, each with capacity for 10 people. In the new infrastructure it seems that it required less physical structure, comparatively. It only has 25 bollards that can reach 28 meters “the highest”, and has 163 cabins. Although the differences are clear, it is not that simple.

The transport specialist highlights the capacity of the latter. To achieve a higher passenger system, the cabins are closer together. This is explained by the fact that the line to Los Alcarrizos has “more electromechanical cover”. That is, more cabin landing area, which translates into larger “stations”. “It has more distance to decelerate and the passenger can get on and off,” he adds.

As a result, there is “obviously a greater investment”. But the differences go further. Although both have four seasons, foundations or pile constructions are also taken into account. “On line 2 we have 30-meter-deep piles,” he says. In line 1 there are direct footings, without piles, because they did not require deep foundations.

That is, he explains, the geological conditions were also different. But there is still more. While line 1 is connected to the metro at Eduardo Brito station 1, “that is, it is electrically connected to the metro, that is, it is fed by the metro”, for the work in Los Alcarrizos the construction of a plant from scratch was required electrical.

“For line 2, an entire electrical project had to be carried out that was not part of line 1. A high-voltage substation had to be built, four high-voltage towers were raised, the highest in the country, at 138 KB and a line of 69 KB was buried”, he details. Lacking the connection to a larger work, “we had to connect it directly to the electrical network,” which is why the electricity supply project that is around RD$2,000 million was added. “It is a project within the cost, it is an important component”, he clarified.

Another factor is also that line 2, unlike the first, crosses a greater number of homes and businesses. From Urbe they point out that some 141 compensations had to be made. These include some 95 relocations, 64 families and 31 businesses as of September last year. In the Las Toronjas station alone, between 14 and 16 houses had to be intervened; and five shops. In that order, between 42 and 53 homes and 26 establishments were also affected.

Until the cited date, 16 family infrastructures and another 19 stores had yet to be intervened, although Isa clarifies that all of them were closed. “What we can say is that we had all the appropriations processes that were released and paid for,” he added.

Cost per kilometer?

The newspaper el Dinero made an estimate of how much it would cost to be estimated per kilometer. While line 1 of the Santo Domingo cable car cost over RD$4.500 million, with about five kilometers (km) in length, the recently opened line 2 of Los Alcarrizos involved more than RD$6.697 million, with an extension of 4.20 kilometers. The foregoing translates into some RD$900 million per km in the first work inaugurated in 2018, and RD$1,594 million in the second that came into operation in 2023.

However, Isa specified that cable car systems are not usually compared per kilometer because the direct cost is not per linear meter, but rather a cost that is mainly associated with the electromechanical component.

In fact, he indicated that there are studies being done on how to compare them because they are not comparable, he says. “The first thing is that the first mistake that is made in this type of system is to understand that the cable car systems are bought by the kilometer,” she warned.

Budget Execution

It was five years ago, on May 22, 2018, when the Office for the Reordering of Transportation (Opret), together with the president at that time, began operations of the Santo Domingo Cable Car. Before, and now, it was part of a broader land use project for Santo Domingo Este.

At that time it was reported that it would have cost RD$3,069,971,583.61, or about US$68.5 million. In fact, according to the French Development Agency, which partially financed the work, it would have been approximately 61 million euros. Construction began in 2016, says the Unit for the Readjustment of Neighborhoods and Environments (URBE) in a report.

In that year alone, RD$706,506,480 were allocated for its construction, details the budget execution report for that period. Between January and June 2017, another RD$771.2 million was reported and by December it had amounted to RD$1,755,801,242, that is, more than 1,000 million more.

In 2017, the total estimated expense amounted to RD$2.8 billion, distributed between the purchase of equipment for RD$30 million, which represented 1.07%; acquisition and conditioning of the land for the work for RD$29,492,664, equivalent to 1.04%; and construction for RD$2,740,507,336, equal to 97.86% of the amount. All this from the first line of the Santo Domingo Cable Car, as indicated by data obtained from the Ministry of Finance.

For 2018, when it was inaugurated, expenses of RD$300 million were reported. However, in 2019, one year after it became operational, the Administrative Ministry of the Presidency indicated that the work would have involved investments of RD$4.5 billion, that is, it presented an increase of around 46.63%.

At that time, they were already talking about the construction of line 2 of the Santo Domingo cable car in Los Alcarrizos.

The start of the so-called second line of the Santo Domingo Cable Car presented an estimated budget of RD$4,000.0 million. It was distributed among expropriations, for RD$21,600,000, which was equal to 0.53% of the expected amount, in addition to the construction of section 1 and the electromechanical installations for RD$1,089,844,534 (equivalent to 27.23%) and RD$1,934,116,450 (or 48.35%). , respectively. The report also mentions section 2, to which RD$251,681,434 (that is, 6.28%) and RD$569,321,743 (or 14.23%) would be allocated. They also detail other electrical installations for RD$133,435,839, or 3.33% of the budget.

Line 2 of the Santo Domingo cable car has an integrated rate of only RD$35 pesos, which will include the Cable Car and the OMSA identified buses.

The data for 2020 do not show the flow of money towards the work, however, for 2021, when construction began on the second line of the Santo Domingo Cable Car, Santo Domingo Oeste and Los Alcarrizos, some RD$1,007.8 million were allocated, while in 2022 another RD$2,286.7 million were executed, thus reaching RD$6,697,930,464.54.

cable car stations

Line 1 moves users from the Gualey area to Charles de Gaulle avenue, going through the Gualey, Los Tres Brazos, Sabana Perdida and La Victoria sectors. Those are also the names of the seasons.

In its five linear kilometers, it crosses the Ozama River in two moments and, they say, directly benefits 287,400 inhabitants, serving three municipalities in four seasons and covering neighboring popular sectors.

Line 2, for its part, directly impacts around 400,000 people. Like line 1, it has four stations: Los Alcarrizos, Las Toronjas, Puente Blanco and Los Americanos.

The covid-19 effect

Jhael Isa reiterates several points, among which he emphasizes that they are not comparable systems, nor are they similar technologies. Among the most notable differences for the executive is that it is 50% more than the capacity. Also, he cites other factors besides deeper foundations. It is about the covid-19 pandemic, which he points out caused an increase in prices of up to 30%.

Jhael Isa, director of Fitram.

“It was a global process that even had to be recognized here with an issue of economic balances. In the case of public works, what we did was verify the valuation of the prices ”, he maintains.

To avoid higher costs, he assured that construction was expedited and completed in two years. “There were cost elements that had variations, but it was not that we had a price update or anything like that in the process, simply the project had a discussion in a pre and post covid period”, he concludes.

property valuation

One element that stands out as “important” to highlight is the value that land and real estate are acquiring in the municipality.

According to the Building Supply Registry Report (ROE) carried out by the National Statistics Office (ONE) in Los Alcarrizos there are the smallest and most expensive commercialization homes from the second semester of 2022, with an increase of one 46% in the value of the properties. This period coincides with the date of completion of the construction of the system, which has been in testing since December of that year.


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