System Dossier: Bondinho Aparecida (Aparecida Cable Car)

Post by Jonathan Brodie

Bondinho Aparecida approaching the Morro de Cruzeiro. Image by Flickr user Fábio Canhim

Aparecida is a quaint city in Brazil located approximately halfway between Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. The city is a center of religious tourism that sees 11 million tourists who flock to the city on an annual basis to experience the National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida – the largest Marian shrine in the world, the second largest church in the world, and also the origin of the city’s name. Another popular tourist hotspot is the Morro de Cruzeiro, a religious hill that overlooks the city. On top of the hill lies access to the Torre Mirante, another attraction that acts as a lookout tower.

Bondinho Aparecida overlooking the National Shrine. Image by Flickr user Fábio Canhim

To improve connectivity between these two sites, private developers financed a 1.1-kilometer cable car that takes passengers on a vertical rise of 117 meters from the base of the National Shrine to the top of the Morro do Cruzeiro. The MDG system, known to the city as the “cable car of the patroness” is operated by the tourist agency Bontur. In the first year of operation, the cable car, which consists of 47 cabins holding 6 passengers each, attracted over one million riders. This demonstrates the ropeway’s popularity amongst tourists. On the ride passengers can experience incredible views of the city and the National Shrine.

Sai da frente que o bonde 🚊 vai passar 😄😎😀 dia #maravilhoso ♥♥♥ #bondinhoaparecida #aparecida #fé #paz #amor #felicidade

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However, despite the success of the gondola, its construction didn’t come without conflict. During the development phase of the gondola, many residents of Aparecida were unhappy with the cable car route as the ropeway crossed over several residential homes and a neighborhood cemetery.

Some residents described the gondola’s setting as “disrespectful”, and “an invasion of privacy” while others described it as the best thing to have happened in the city. Therefore, while ropeways can add a unique charm to the city, they can also cause problems with local residents. Developers should be conscious of these issues when constructing cable cars and should make great efforts to work collaboratively with the local community.

Year opened 2014
Length (km) 1.1
Capacity (pphpd) 1500
One-way fare (Brazilian Real) 14
Stations 2




Photo of the Week: IGA Berlin 2017 Cable Car

Post by Gondola Project

#iga2017 #internationalegartenschau #marzahn #berlin #gärtenderwelt #ropeway #seilbahn

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Tbilisi/Georgian Ropeways, Part 1.4 – Connecting Resorts and Hotels

Post by Gondola Project

Ropeway approaching Sololaki Hills Hotel. Screenshot from Georgian Co-Investment Fund.

Central Tbilisi is undergoing tremendous change as the Georgian capital modernizes its aging infrastructure. In recent years, a growing number of visitors are flocking to Georgia with a record setting 2.3 million international tourist arrivals in 2016.

To support this growth, a new Tourism Development Fund was created to finance eight major hotel developments worth US$680 million. For followers of urban cable cars, three hospitality projects are worth mentioning.

  1. Hotel on Freedom Square: 220 rooms, office and commercial space (2018)
  2. Hotel Sololaki Hills: 370 rooms, conference room, aquarium (2019)
  3. Tabori Recreation and Golf Resort: 40ha, 5-star hotel, sports halls, restaurants and cafes (2018)

From the information provided online, it appears that passengers will be able to board a cable car in the heart of Tbilisi at the Hotel on Freedom Square and ride it directly to the Hotel Sololaki Hills.

Once passengers reach the hillside resort, a second ropeway will transport visitors to Tabori Recreation and Golf Resort — located adjacent to Tbilisi Botanical Gardens. Once the resort is opened in 2019, this development will be the city’s largest public recreational area.

Based on mapped locations and a video rendering, a 1.7km MDG system will connect these three major developments.

A big thank you for Irakli Z for sharing this project with us. If we missed anything or you have additional information, please let us know in the comments below and/or find us on Facebook and Twitter



Doppelmayr Annual Brochure 2017

Post by Advertorial Team

Doppelmayr/Garaventa Group Worldwide 2017 Annual Brochure.

Doppelmayr/Garaventa Group, the world’s largest manufacturer of passenger ropeways, has published their highly anticipated 2017 Annual Brochure. For this year’s report, over 100 installations have been documented alongside spectacular visuals.

A total of 84 customers around the world chose the world-renowned technical experts at Doppelmayr to construct 3 Funicular Railways; 6 Reversible Aerial Tramways; 29 Detachable Gondola Lifts; 28 Detachable Chairlifts; 17 Fixed-Grip Chairlifts; 19 Surface Lifts; 2 RopeCons; and 1 Monorack.

Doppelmayr/Garaventa ropeways are found in 91 countries.

While each ropeway is a unique system in and of itself, we’ve hand picked a few honourable mentions with relevancy to city-building and design excellence.

100-FUL Lugano Citta-Stazione FFS

100-FUL Lugano-Citta Stazione FFS

Since the Lugano Citta-Statzione Funicular was originally built in 1886 to provide service between the historic downtown to the city’s main railway station, the funicular remains one of Switzerland’s busiest bottom-supported cable systems.

To increase capacity and improve passenger service, the funicular was overhauled in 2016 by Doppelmayr/Garaventa. The company was responsible for project planning, engineering, and, delivery and installation of all the electromechanical equipment (including cabins).

Thanks to the modernization program, the 206m funicular can now transport 2,240 passengers per hour.

10-MGD Linea Azul I and 10-MDG Linea Azul II

10-MGD Linea Azul 1 and 10-MDG Linea Azul II

Linea Azul (English: Blue Line) is the fourth urban transit cable car in La Paz-El Alto’s Mi Teleférico network and the first ropeway for Phase 2. While technically it is built as two independent rope lines, the cable car has been designed so that passengers can seamlessly travel from terminal to terminal without having to change systems.

The cable car’s rope was installed using a drone technique specifically designed for Doppelmayr. The drone, known as an Octocopter, carried and strung an auxiliary cable, which in turn was used to install the final rope. The flexibility and compact size of the drone is an ideal solution for complex urban environments.

At a capacity of 3,000 passengers per hour per direction, the 5km system greatly enhances transport for those living in El Alto. It flies above Latin America’s biggest street market and connects students to University UPEA. For even greater convenience and connectivity, the system has been integrated with Linea Roja (English: Red Line).

6-MGD Wynn Palace Skycab

6-MGD Wynn Palace Skycab

The opulent Wynn Palace casino and resort in Cotai, Macau features a luxurious 6-person gondola that transports guests around the venue’s 3.25ha Performance Lake.

Climbing to heights of 30m, guests are afforded aerial views of a dazzling light and water shows at the lake. The gondola travels in an unidirectional, circular route with two customized golden dragon towers. To maximize comfort, ride experience and safety, the gondola is equipped with air-conditioning, LED night illumination, a communication system and CCTV.

Doppelmayr was able to meet the client’s stringent technical requirements with the implementation of a newly designed mounting system. Simply put, this mounting system ensures that adjacent rooms connected to the gondola experience zero noise and vibrations. Reduced sound and vibration emissions ensures a more pleasant and undisturbed visit for guests.

10-MGD Giggojochbahn

10-MGD Giggojochbahn

The new 2,648m Giggojoch cable car is built with Doppelmayr’s next generation of ropeway solutions, the D-Line. At a line capacity of 4,500 passengers per hour per direction, it is the world’s highest capacity monocable detachable gondola.

A total of 134 cabins transport skiers at speeds of 6.5m/s (23.4km/h) from Sölden to Giggojoch. Thanks to Doppelmayr’s innovative D-Line solutions, passengers experience top ride comfort onboard a ultramodern cable car.

230-ATW Ha Long Queen Cable Car

230-ATW Ha Long Queen Cable Car

The 2,165m Ha Long Queen Cable Car in northern Vietnam crosses the world famous Ha Long Bay en route to an observation wheel. Passengers board the ropeway in Bai Chay district in Ha Long City before taking flight to the top of Ba Deo Hill.

The aerial tram simultaneously set two new ropeway records for tallest tower and largest cabin. Its double decker carriers were designed by CWA and can accommodate up to 230 passengers. Furthermore, as the number 8 is considered lucky in Vietnam, Doppelmayr/Garaventa was able to precisely design a record setting tower at 188.8m.

This demonstrates how Doppelmayr/Garaventa is up to task to satisfy any technical and cultural requirements of a ropeway project. The aerial tram was built in just 19 months, and adheres to all the applicable European standards/codes (CEN standards) for ropeway construction.

To read and learn more about Doppelmayr’s cable installations from 2016, please click here.

Materials on this page are paid for. Gondola Project (including its parent companies and its team of writers and contributors) does not explicitly or implicitly endorse third parties in exchange for advertising. Advertising does not influence editorial content, products, or services offered on The Gondola Project.



World’s most harrowing (exhilarating) commute?

Post by Nick Chu

Six families continue to rely on a makeshift 800m long zipline to save 2 hours of travel time. At top speeds of 90km/h and at heights of 230m, this commute is certainly not for the faint of heart!



Special Gondola Design: Cantilevered Towers

Post by Gondola Project

Cantilevered tower design maximizes use of airspace above existing roads. Image from Google Streetview.

Thanks to our readers and the internet, documenting unique designs for Cable Propelled Transit (CPT) systems are now easier than ever before. Notable examples that immediately come to mind include the Finnish Sauna Gondola, the Singaporean Skyscraper Station and the Chinese Arching Roadway Tower.

Unfortunately, it seems that lax record keeping in the industry has meant that many unique ropeway designs created in the past have been largely lost and/or just simply forgotten.

Most recently, reader Conrad W (re)discovered and shared with us a fascinating cantilevered tower design on the Poços de Caldas Teleférico in Brazil. Having reviewed countless urban gondola proposals in the past, we know that this tower design has been theoretically discussed but this is the first instance where we’ve seen its implementation in real life — and it is for this exact reason why this discovery is exciting.

Tower designs examined for the San Diego Bay to Balboa Park Skyway. Screenshot from Feasibility Report.

For those working in the city-building industry, theoretical design solutions are great for sparking lively conversations but unfortunately, most cities are incredibly risk-averse when it comes to adopting new forms of infrastructure. Having real world examples allows project proponents to demonstrate that a design is tested and proven.

For urban planners and designers, this ingenious tower style provides one major advantage: it enables a cable car to follow the under-utilized airspace along an existing right of way — without the need to remove/impact road space. In an urban transport project, this advantage cannot be underestimated as many rapid transit proposals face immense backlash due to the need to take away lanes from motorists.

However, if vehicular lanes and capacity are maintained with the strategic use of cantilevered towers, the concerns of motorists can be mitigated.  Furthermore, in cities where the cost of land is high and the desire to maintain vehicular capacity is strong, this design solution could significantly increase a project’s financial and social feasibility.

While the tower design is fascinating, it should be noted that these towers are designed for a relatively old ropeway system. According to data online, the 1.5km gondola was built in 1974 and only carries 6,000 persons per month. As such, transferability from a cost and technical perspective to modern ropeway specifications is still relatively unknown at this time since no urban gondola (that we know of) is currently built with cantilevered towers.

What we do know now is that thanks to the Poços de Caldas Teleférico, there is precedence for this unique cantilevered tower solution in an urban environment.

All that’s required now is the right set of circumstances for implementation. Luckily, from the hundreds of active cable car proposals, it probably isn’t too difficult to find a city who wants to build additional transport capacity along an existing thoroughfare without removing car lanes.



New York State Fair Gondola — A Public Relations Nightmare

Post by Steven Dale

New York State Fair Gondola

Not to get all nit-picky but this is not a gondola. Image via Governors Office

Here’s a question I’d like to know — who did the PR on the New York State Fair Gondola? Was there even anyone? 

Because from this desk, the only public communications I’ve seen thus far has been a rendering presumably hacked together by an intern of the fair with the Roosevelt Island Tram floating overhead — which regular readers of this site know is technically completely inaccurate and probably speaks to the level of detail officials got into when it came to presenting this project to the public. 

(For anyone curious readers, an Aerial Tram and a Gondola are two completely different technologies.)

Industry observers know that this proposal has been working it’s way through the New York State legislature for the last several months and looked to be heading towards realization until it recently got battered in the press for a variety of issues and has been positioned by its opponents as representing an out-of-touch government wasting tax payer dollars. 

That narrative has stuck because there’s been basically no counter-narrative. No economic justification for its existence has been presented.

For the record, we here have no horse in this race, except perhaps as analysts who find it curious that so many current gondola proponents spend so little time crafting the story behind what is oftentimes going to be a very controversial proposal. 

So here’s a few questions that the government could’ve started with and should as this situation develops — 

What are the economics of the gondola? We know that it’s going to cost around $15mm but that’s about it. Is it a profitable investment? If so, could the private sector finance it? 

A system such as this will get excellent financing terms because it’s going to be presumably paid for by the state government. That means low, fixed interest rates; long repayment schedules; and zero equity up front. Those things always help any project’s economics. But what are this project’s economics?  

Is the gondola projected to make money? Given the preferential financials the project will enjoy, isn’t it worth asking that question? 

What’s the fare going to be? How many riders are projected to use it? 

Is this a tourist-oriented ride or is this is a piece of transport infrastructure designed to move people about the site free-from-charge? If it’s the latter, will it cause more visitors to attend the fair? Will it cause more events to be booked at the fairgrounds throughout the rest of the year thereby making the overall site more profitable? 

Will it operate year-round? What are the annual operations & maintenance costs? 

Basically — how is this thing supposed to work?

Who, What, When, Where, Why and How. W5+H. It’s that simple. 

Almost none of this has been unpacked publicly. Which, admittedly, suggests that either project economics aren’t actually understood at this time or they are understood and being kept under wraps for reasons unknown. 

The gondola has become a political punching bag and an example of wasteful government spending so much so that officials involved appear to be prepping the ground for delaying the installation under the auspices that other fair expenditures may need to take priority. 

If the system is economically unfeasible, then that may be a deserved fate.

If, however, the gondola is economically self-sustaining and/or provides enough economic spin-off benefits to the fair to justify its existence, then that needs to actually be communicated to the public — because right now that hasn’t been. Opponents of the gondola (or of the project’s main champion, Governor Andrew Cuomo) have been laying into the project like they’re playing Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! with every cheat code in existence at their disposal. 

Right now the narrative of the gondola is poisonous because no narrative in favour of the gondola even exists. Like any political intervention, a gondola system requires a narrative that positions it in the public’s eye in a positive light. People aren’t just going to like it because it’s a gondola even though that seems to be the default position of many gondola project proponents nowadays. 

That’s completely the wrong position to take. In fact, by virtue simply of being a gondola there will be one contingent of people who will actively dislike it because it’s bizarre and another contingent who will see the bizarreness of the technology as a means to opportunistically win political points at the expense of the proponent whether they agree with the given project or not. 

Right now somewhere in New York, someone’s PR person is in all kinds of trouble. 

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