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. AJ

    Landslide in the making.....during rain....

    December 27, 2011 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Chris


    December 27, 2011 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
  3. jimzcarz

    The first thing that comes to mind is lipstick on a pig, People really are this stupid aren't they??

    December 27, 2011 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Michele

      Well, you are even more stupid, if you know how to use Google you will be able to find Medellin is one of the few cities expending millions of dollars helping their poor communities, this escalators are one more way to make them feel like they belong to the city.

      December 27, 2011 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tom C

      Why is this stupid? If you save a huge amount of time commuting and save wear-and-tear on your bodies from the exhausting climb, you can work much more productively and not have to worry about breaking a limb climbing down the mountain on the way home. Assuming that the authorities follow through with the weatherproofing planned in Phase II (Google it) this has the potential to help thousands of people.

      December 27, 2011 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • jimzcarz

      The maintenance on this will be huge and unless they charge a toll, It will probably not be funded. This town needs infrastructure and related work projects. It just seems like a big misplacement of funds to solve an immediate issue and not solve the problem.

      December 27, 2011 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
  4. raven

    Hey m.s.! And hey bobcat! Your maintenance content struck me, still laughing.

    December 27, 2011 at 2:23 pm | Report abuse |
  5. raven

    Not content....COMMENT...

    December 27, 2011 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Sheila

    *facepalm* indeed. What a ridiculous waste of their money. Their problems are the same as ours, only magnified: stop the taxation and regulation and enforce the rule of law so that businesses have an environment they are drawn to instead of fleeing from. That way, jobs and industry will be created, lifting the poverty stricken out of their misery. These people will have cars and instead of a slum it will be a nice neighborhood.

    December 27, 2011 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
  7. BL

    Seems interesting, but won't they get rusty? Maybe if they roof them. Also, they've got to put security guards all along the escalators 24/7 otherwise the escalators will be torn apart and sold as scrap metal. It happens ...

    December 27, 2011 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
  8. M

    If you can't spell ColOmbia correctly, you don't deserve to comment on this article. Thanks.

    December 27, 2011 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
  9. dramarama

    now the coke can be cut up and dispensed in a fraction of the time,,,

    December 27, 2011 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Michele

      And i guess you are happy about it....

      December 27, 2011 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Cadiz

    Two years later they are sitting in a pile of rust with nothing to show foe the $7 million. They can do in 5 minutes what they used to do in 30, but what does that saved 25 minutes do for someone with no job and no money? Time is not necessarily money if your time is not generating money.

    December 27, 2011 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Randy Harmon

    This is how the cartel gets the people on their side. I'm sure this was privately funded, and those that benefit from it will be watch dogs to unwanted guest coming up the hill to make arrests.

    December 27, 2011 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Andreas Moser

    What's wrong with walking steps??

    December 27, 2011 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Tim Liao

    My guess is that when the electricity bill becomes to burdensome, they will shut down the escalators and people will end using the escalators as stairs.

    December 27, 2011 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Tom C

    About the weather issue - try Googling this story and you'll find that coverings for the escalators are planned as Phase II work. There are many outdoor escalators in operation around the world without coverings, but I'm glad to see they are taking that precaution here.

    December 27, 2011 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
  15. The Truth Is

    Double facepalm...

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