Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim, has a density of more than 5,000 persons per kilometer. It faces severe congestion: its topography is characterised by steep gradients and irregular road alignments, resulting in narrow carriageways. This limits conventional public transport services to only 2 per cent of modal share.
Gangtok’s goal was to adopt alternative transport systems that are reliable, easy to install, operate and maintain, have minimal environmental impact, allow intermodal integration, provide good internal rates of return (IRR), and can boost the residents’ quality of life. Sikkim decided on a ropeway system, which suits the city’s topography and can bring about transformational change. Gangtok currently has one tourist cable car and plans to expand its network.
A key ingredient for designing a successful ropeway system was the availability of GIS spatial data. Community engagement uncovered concerns for safety, particularly over power outages; these were addressed through system design. The detailed plans for the ropeway transit system have been already approved by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs. The Ministry is funding up to 90 per cent of the cost, with Sikkim providing the remainder. The Government of Sikkim is also considering supporting infrastructure like public rugged escalators, foot-over bridge and transit-oriented developments to ensure the project is a success.