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Urban Transformations and Health: and update on the TrUST study of Bogotá’s TransMiCable

Cable carts in Colombia

Bogota, Colombia, March 20, 2020

A new SALURBAL paper published on March 10th in Frontiers in Public Health describes an ongoing assessment of the health impacts of Bogotá’s new cable car system, TransMiCable, and its concurrent urban transformation. This study is being led by Olga Lucia Sarmiento and Diana Higuera-Mendieta of the School of Medicine at the Universidad de los Andes in Bogotá, Colombia, along with Ana V. Diez Roux, Dean of the Dornsife School of Public Health at Drexel University in Philadelphia, USA.

This research represents one of six studies funded by the SALURBAL project that examines the impacts of specific policies and interventions on health in Latin American cities. TransMiCable was inaugurated in December 2018 and is a cable car that connects the community of Ciudad Bolívar, on the outskirts of the Bogotá city limits, to the city’s BRT system. The TransMiCable project also involved the installation of new community facilities and neighborhood improvements.

The TrUST study is the first of its kind to assess the effects of a cable car system on people’s health. Researchers are looking at factors related to the environmental and social determinants of health (including physical characteristics like air pollution, access to parks and cultural facilities, transport accessibility and social aspects like employment, leisure time, and social capital)physical activity and health outcomes like quality of life, respiratory illnesses, and crime.

The study team engages community members, policymakers, and fellow researchers in workshops, neighborhood walks, and other activities to understand the local context and community priorities. Participants in the study wear accelerometers and use a smartphone application to follow their movements and activity levels. Other sensors are used to measure the exposure to air pollution (fine particulate matter, equivalent black carbon, and carbon monoxide) in different transportation modes.

The final results of this research will help understand the way TransMiCable is affecting people’s lives and health in Bogota. These insights can support planning and advocacy for other similar projects in the future.

Study at a glance:

  • The first study in the region to evaluate the impacts of a cable car on health.
  • Designed and implemented by an interdisciplinary research team with sustained engagement and input from the local community and policy actors.
  • Monitored impacts of TransMiCable include physical activity, transport microenvironment air pollution exposure, health-related quality of life, respiratory illness, and crime.
  • Results will help maximize the health benefits and minimize unintended negative consequences of TransMiCable and other transportation infrastructure projects in the future.

Read the full article to learn more about the challenges that researchers have encountered and their strategies to overcome them.

Find out more about this and other SALURBAL policy evaluations!