Public Transport Solution, Tourist Attraction, Or Both?

Amsterdam Cable Car IJbaan
Artist’s impression of the IJbaan, the proposed Amsterdam Cable Car across the river IJ (pronounced as ‘eye’

Update: Amsterdam Cable Car Gets Green Light

“Amsterdam is not only working on a bridge across the river IJ, a cable car is also getting closer. After years of delay, the city council finally agrees to the construction of the cable car link between the north and west districts of the city,” writes Het Parool on May 8, 2023.

Reportedly, during the negotiations on the Spring Memorandum, college parties PvdA, GroenLinks and D66 agreed to the construction of a cable car over the IJ on the west side of the city.

Construction should start in 2025 and the cable car could be put into operation in 2027, the newspaper notes.

Update 2: Project Not Yet Greenlit, City Says.

One day after news daily Het Parool wrote that Amsterdam has greenlit the IJbaan Cable Car project, the City says ‘No so fast!’ It has not yet given the green light.

The City states, “We support this private initiative because the cable car will make (future) Port-City easily accessible on both banks of the IJ.”


The municipality notes:

We are investigating the feasibility of the route. This concerns the location of the stations and the masts. Various variants have been investigated, mainly looking at whether it fits in the area and on the water. The possibilities of making landfall on the south side at the newly to be built metro station Hem Knoop have also been examined. This will be presented to the city council and the board of the Amsterdam Transport Region later this month. If they both agree, the foundation can carry out further urban development and technical research.

In addition, the initiators must also draw up a business case that must show that it is also financially feasible. And of course there will also be discussions with local residents and entrepreneurs in the area about the exact location of the cable car.

Only when all these conditions have been met can the City of Amsterdam and the Amsterdam Transport Region decide whether a cable car is feasible. If so, a realization agreement will be concluded with the IJbaan Foundation so that the concrete plans can be further elaborated.

IJbaan Cable Car

There are advanced plans to create an urban cable car that ferries commuters back and forth between Amsterdam West and Amsterdam Noord (North), high across the river IJ. 1Pronounce IJ somewhat like ‘ay’ or ‘eye’

The name IJbaan Amsterdam, or IJbaan Cable Car, is in reference to the river IJ, Amsterdam’s waterfront. The Amsterdam Cable Car is not billed as a tourist attraction. Rather it is intended as a high-quality, fixed traffic connection with a public transport function.

Map: Proposed location and route for Amsterdam Cable Car IJbaan

Amsterdam Cable Car location
Proposed location and route for the IJbaan, the Amsterdam Cable Car public transport initiative | Larger version Amsterdam Cable Car Map
© OpenStreetMap contributors CC BY-SA via Wikimedia Maps

Bicycle-Friendly Gondolas

The 1.5 kilometer  aerial tramway has bicycle-friendly gondolas that each carry 32 to 37 people. Or, Stichting IJbaan says, ten people with bikes. It will take 4.6 minutes to complete a full journey at an average speed of 21.6 kilometers per hour. 21.5 kilometer = 0.62 miles.

21.6 kilometers per hour = 13.42 miles per hour

On startup, 38 gondolas will be deployed simultaneously. The capacity will be 5,500 people per direction per hour. Capacity is lower at the start, but the system is designed to be expandable. In time, more stations and cars can be added.

The goal was for the system to be ready by the 750th anniversary of Amsterdam in 2025. After several delays construction is scheduled to begin in 2025 and the ropeway is to be put into operation in 2027.

[Amsterdam is known as the City of Bikes. Many bicyclists can’t wait to see themselves and their bikes whisked back and forth across the river.]

Why a Cable Car Instead of a Bridge?

Amsterdam’s river IJ separates the borough of Amsterdam Noord from the rest of the city. The two sides are connected by two tunnels, one bridge, and a number of public transport ferry routes. 3There is also Metro 52, the so-called Noord/Zuidlijn (literally: North/South line). However, a planned station on the river bank across from Amsterdam Central Station was not built due to budget overruns.

Long ignored, in recent years Amsterdam Noord has become a cultural hot spot. With the redevelopment of former shipyards and industrial complexes, it’s also been discovered as a great place to live and work.

Overstrained ferry routes

The extra work-home traffic has overstrained the ferry routes that cross the busy river. About 70.000 people a day use the ferries. Meanwhile, the river — which connects the Port of Amsterdam (and the North Sea) to much of Western Europe — is traversed by some 160.000 ships a year.

Large ferries, additional routers, and/or ferries that sail more frequently are not good options.

New Bridges, Eventually?

A few years ago the municipality of Amsterdam finally took the decision to build two new bridges. (Finally, as people have been talking about the need for permanent connections across the IJ since 1839!) 4A pedestrian tunnel between Amsterdam Central Station and the IJ river bank across from it is also planned.

But for various reasons the bridges won’t be in operation until at least 2032. Incidentally, those bridges will serve pedestrians and bicyclists only. There is an ongoing discussion as to whether public transport should also be able to use them.

Mind you: it is not even entirely sure that the planned bridges will ever be built. The project has seen countless delays, false starts, and other setbacks.

Currently (April 2023) the city has reportedly set aside 100 million euro for one bridge. The Vervoerregio Amsterdam (Transport Authority Amsterdam) also will contribute some 100 million euro. But since the bridge will cost at least 300 million euro, the rest will have to come from the Federal government, or another source.

A more detailed overview of the bridge debacle goes beyond the scope of this article.

Haven-Stad, a New District in Amsterdam

Amsterdam is a rapidly growing city. There is an extremely high demand for housing. A current industrial area in Amsterdam West and, across the river, in Amsterdam Noord is eyed as the ideal place for a new district called Haven-Stad (Port-City).

Here there is room to build a fully-fledged residential and work district for up to 70,000 homes and 58,000 jobs. The new neighborhood is designed to be largely car-free. Only 1 in 5 households gets a parking space. However, there will be many bicycle and pedestrian paths and public transport, including a metro from Sloterdijk station through the area to Amsterdam Central.

The proposed bridges across the river will not be in place until at least 2032. Neither bridge will be close to the new district.

So while operated by a private company, the Amsterdam Cable Car — IJbaan — will be a great addition to the city’s public transport system in this area..

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Amsterdam Public Transport Options

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We are not affiliated with any of the parties behind the Amsterdam Cable Car project.