4 min

Poma, the world’s leading French cable operator

From Savoy to China via Dubai, Poma has established itself as a leader in cable transport all over the world. True transport of the future, the cable car, is starting to emerge more and more in the urban landscape, especially in France where more and more cities are launching their networks. Zoom on Poma, an Isère-based company that has been flourishing for years all over the world.

A historic cable-car company

It was in 1936 that the first facilities in Poma were built. That year, Jean Pomalski installed one of the world’s first ski lifts in Alpe d’Huez. It was from there that the company officially saw the light of day in 1947 in Grenoble under the name Poma. Its installations contributed in particular to the popularization of winter sports. 80 years later, Poma generates a turnover of almost 450 million euros in 2018. With more than 8,000 installations in 90 countries around the world, the company employs 1,575 people in France and around the world.

Poma, however, is not content just to stay in the mountains. In all these years, the company has greatly diversified. It is present both in the tourism industry and in the urban landscapes of several cities around the world, including New York, Medellín and Beijing.

The company stands out in particular thanks to its innovations and its ability to adapt to hostile environments. Indeed, the company has succeeded in building gondola lifts at sea, in the bay of Nha Trang in Vietnam, or even towards the Great Wall of China. Poma is always looking to improve its products by offering: heated seats, solar panels, transparent floors, etc. To go even further, in 2010 the company even designed a funicular called “Blanc-blanc” which links two labs of the French Atomic Energy Commission in Grenoble. Equipped with air filters that don’t let any particles through, researchers no longer have to change combinations every time they change buildings.

The cable car, a transport of the future

In cities like Medellín, the cable car has had a real social impact in the 2000s. Indeed, it has opened up the shantytowns located high up in the mountains. The cable cars have been so successful that new lines have been installed very recently. According to Medellín City Council, the cable car has considerably reduced violence, taking it out of the top 20 most dangerous cities. It is therefore one of the few modes of transport that can really prevent urban fractures.

This example is also illustrated in Brest. Indeed, it is in 2016 that the city is equipped with a cable car to cross the river Penfeld. It has thus made it possible to link the Capuchin district, which was once isolated, to the rest of the city and has thus contributed to the economic dynamism of the district. In addition, thanks to its architecture, it often provides a breathtaking view of the city and is, therefore, a tourist attraction that can attract potential users.

In addition to having a real social and economic impact on the various districts of the city, the urban cable car has many ecological virtues compared to its competitors. Indeed, it is 100% electric and consumes much less energy than the tramway or metro, for example. In addition, the cable car also has a practical aspect. Indeed, by flying over certain dense areas, it makes it possible to overcome natural or architectural obstacles, which is impossible with the installation of a tramway for example. This also means real time saving for the inhabitants. The former Minister of the Environment, Ségolène Royal, said: “There is no cleaner, safer, quieter or cheaper way to travel than by cable car”.

Poma back in France

Although not very present in French cities, the cable car is gaining ground and many cities wish to install it to complete their existing transport network. For the time being, the only city in France with an urban cable car is Brest. However, 13 installation projects are under study in the Île-de-France region and in several cities including Toulouse, Saint-Denis (Reunion Island) and Grenoble.

Indeed, last February, Poma won the tender launched by the SMAAG (Syndicat Mixte des Mobilités de l’Aire Grenobloise) for the construction of a new cable car line that crossed the peninsula. Its construction should be completed around 2023. Thanks to this project, the company is now closer to its head office and even declared: “It’s a real source of pride for us, in Europe, in France, in Grenoble. After having done it all around the world, Grenoble is really a great step for us, for the company.”

© Grenoble Alpes Métropole

Poma does not stop there and will also participate in the project of the city of Toulouse, notably by building the largest urban cable car in France. This new cable car will relieve congestion in the southern part of the city, which generates 7,000 new jobs every year. It will be served by new bus lines, enabling users to reach the various points of the city easily. It’s a good bet that the urban cable car will become more and more popular in cities as the new environmentally friendly mode of transport.