Giant escalators help poor in Medellin, Colombia
A nearly $7 million project put escalators on the steep hillside in Comuna 13 in Medellin, Colombia.
December 27th, 2011
12:39 PM ET

Giant escalators help poor in Medellin, Colombia

Residents of one of the dangerous slums in Medellin, Colombia, now have a faster way to make it to the top of the steep hillside district of Comuna 13: a set of escalators that will help them climb the equivalent of a 18-story building.

The residents in this poor town have been making the trek up cement steps for years, but now, thanks to the $6.9 million project, they won't have to work as hard.

"We used to see escalators in shopping malls, but Medellin will be the first to use it as public transport, a mobility solution for these neighborhoods with difficult access," Mayor Alonso Salazar said, according to the news site Colombia Reports.

The BBC reports that Comuna 13's 12,000 residents will now shorten a 30 minute hike to the top. They will now be able to get there in about 5 minutes. The project is divided up into six sections of escalators.

"They’re really cool because it really gives you an advantage as you’re going up," resident Yarley Villa told Caracol TV. "It’s much more comfortable when you’re carrying packages and stuff like that."

During the project's construction it gained both support and concern from the community.

While some residents were happy to have  a replacement for the nearly 530 steps they used to have to climb (or the equivalent of 18 flights of stairs), others wished the money had been spent to help improve the housing situation or for food assistance, according to Colombia Reports.

The project is aimed at helping improve Medellin, the hometown of Pablo Escobar, which had been known in the past more for drugs and violence.

soundoff (137 Responses)
  1. me

    Ummm yeah they could've found a much better use for that $6.9 million. Maybe next they'll spend a whole lot of money to install light bulbs in abandoned buildings. Just as ingenious

    December 27, 2011 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • trixibelle

      Or perhaps they know more about their climate and needs than some whiney poster and found it to be a worthwhile project.

      December 27, 2011 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Q

      well perhaps you should just move out there and manage that under-served community and their budget, since you seem to know better.

      December 27, 2011 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
  2. banasy©

    Hey, ms!
    Hope you're doing well.
    I miss you.

    December 27, 2011 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Tim Liao

    Is this their stairway to Heaven?

    December 27, 2011 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
  4. ceg

    This is a good use of current Ingenuity, I hope all things were considered such as mudslides, constant rains, and maintenance.....

    December 27, 2011 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Russ

    It rains a lot in Columbia. What happens to the escalators after one year of rain?

    December 27, 2011 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
  6. randy

    all the houses in the city are not worth 6.9 million. Looks like a BIG waste of money to me. Could have used the money to build a factory and add jobs to the city.

    December 27, 2011 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
  7. joke of the day - Mitch Hedberg

    Escalators can never break, they can only become stairs.

    December 27, 2011 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Kevin O.

    -.- what a waste of funds.

    December 27, 2011 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Monica

      This was more than certainly the effort of some do-gooder bleach blonde soccer mom named "Muffy" to extend her version of good will.

      December 27, 2011 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Alan

    bizarre.....who's going to fix them....how about moving people out of the slums

    December 27, 2011 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • duh

      The people are poor beyond your comprehension. Do you think moving poor people somewhere will suddenly eradicate poverty?

      December 27, 2011 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
  10. blastronaut

    why don't they just drive?

    December 27, 2011 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • what?

      And how exactly are people who live in slums supposed to afford cars? You m0r0n.

      December 27, 2011 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • JeSuisRacerX

      Or at least take the elevator

      December 27, 2011 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
  11. fred

    And I used to think the "well to do" were the only ones to freakin' lazy to walk up a set of stairs. 1 or 28 floors.

    December 27, 2011 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • what?

      Lazy? Really? And I suppose you would walk 30 minutes up 28 flights at least once per day, right? Bull! And many of these (very) poor people are likely to have health issues that would make this take even longer. Or make the trip altogether impossible. But I suppose you never take a car, train or bus for trips across town. And I'm sure you think we should eliminate handicap parking spots, sidewalks and paved roads as well. I mean, if you can walk, why do you need a concrete sidewalk? m0r0n.

      December 27, 2011 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
  12. ThinkAboutThis

    Give a man a fish and he will need another tomorrow, teach him to fish and he will feed himself for a lifetime.

    Build a man a staircase and he will climb his way out of poverty, Give him an escalator and he will have his hand out next for the keys to the government issued automobile.

    December 27, 2011 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • what?

      First line, true. The rest, not so much. The government has effectively given every resident an extra hour a day by removing about 30 minutes off each direction of the trip. An extra hour to work and help their children with school. They've enabled the weak, the ill and the handicapped to travel up and down the hill. This is really no different than public transportation such as buses. And many of these people are VERY hard-working, as there is little in the way of welfare in these areas. There are simply no opportunities for many of these people, which is true in much of central and south America. Why do you think so many risk their lives and freedom to come to the United States? For a chance at a better life.

      December 27, 2011 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Fred

    Did a quick calculation assuming about 6,000 (50%) people use this per day, and earn approximately $1/hr and work 250 days per year. Cutting the round trip from about 45 minutes (30 up, 15 down) to 15 minutes (5 up, 10 down) will save approximately $1.0 million per year not including the improved productivity of not being tired from 30 minutes of climbing stairs before work.

    The escalator will pay for itself in less than 10 years.

    I wish we had mass transit projects in the US that cut our commutes by 67%. Even 20% shorter would save billions in the US.

    December 27, 2011 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • chris

      possibly. provided there is no expense for upkeep. but that notion is foolish.

      December 27, 2011 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Steve

    Looks like a Sarah Palin project. Escalator to no where. I wonder if they had to rip down any of the $12 houses to build this?

    December 27, 2011 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
  15. wotsit

    can a drug mule fit on one?

    December 27, 2011 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
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