More reasons to ‘Like’ us.

Post by Steven Bochenek


Click links below to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

We’re all aware of the incredible potential of social media. And that’s why the Gondola Project is proud to announce we have redirected extra time and resources towards Facebook and Twitter.

If you need to reach us, reach out. We’ll be popping in every weekday for brief postings and discussions.

What matters to judicious users of these social sites, of course, is the relevance of information (used wrongly, they can become a massive time drain). Just as important is the quality of the network itself.

That said, please friend and like us on Facebook, and/or follow us on Twitter. Then share information, submit ideas, correct us, argue with us and suggest others we should be following and sharing with. We promise to reciprocate.



Facebook: CUPgondolaproject




Twitter: @CUPgondola



Doppelmayr’s Long Tradition of Training Apprentices

Post by Steven Bochenek


On-the-job learning between classes at school


On September 1, 2015, Doppelmayr announced that 22 new apprentices had begun an intensive training program at the company. We at the Gondola Project are but a few and currently have zero apprentices or interns, so it seemed a large number to us.

“22 apprentices may seem high for others but is not so impressive or unusual for us,” says Ekkehard Assmann, Doppelmayr’s Head of Marketing and Public Relations. “In fact, we have about 100 apprentices just here in our factory in Wolfurt, Austria at the moment. There are around another 40 working for us in Switzerland.”

Apprentices are very important to the future of the company and a big part of how they define themselves.

It turns out company founder Konrad Doppelmayr, the great-grandfather of the current company president, was himself an apprentice to a village blacksmith. This blacksmith had no successor for his business and, when it was time, was happy enough to pass it on to Konrad. “From there, we went on to become the world’s biggest ropeway manufacturer.” Apprenticing has been part of the company structure ever since.

“The Austrian System Fits Perfectly With Our Structure.”

Nearly all 22 of the young men and women are from around the region. Just 15 or 16 years old, they’re still living with their parents. Most of them spend 1 day at school and 4 at work per week, “though it depends on the profession they’re learning” says Assmann. “You have some apprenticeships where they work for a couple of months, then they go to school for one or 2 months, then come back to work.”


Of 22 apprentices, 22 are expected to stay.

The apprenticeships vary throughout all aspects of the business, including metal and steel-construction technologists to machine constructionists, electric and information technologists and technical illustrators; “even IT and office workers.” An apprentice’s schooling is both general education and specifically applicable to the program the student is doing.

Austria’s national system of apprenticeship — splitting school with work — is recognized and respected around the world. “To get really qualified workers, Austria’s system is just great for how we operate. Couldn’t be better.”

Which led to questions about those operations. How many apprentices have gone through the program in the past and stayed with it afterwards? “Pretty much all of them,” Assmann insists. All? “Some left for a couple of years, because they went on to more education, but they came back.”

How Does Any Company Keep Workers For Their Whole Careers Any More?

“It has very much to do what sort of company we are and what an interesting product we have.” Moreover, it’s no secret that students who do those apprenticeships have a very good chance for advancement in the company. “In the past, many of them have gone on to middle- and top-management.” He goes on to list some: Director of Quality Control, Head of Exports, the manager of their biggest factory in Wolfurt and many others.

Of course he notes that Doppelmayr is also very selective about the apprentices it takes on. “We give them many tests: math tests; technical and German tests. To make sure they’re the right fit for us and us for them.”

Thinking back to the national apprenticeship system, it’s plain to see that Doppelmayr has the time to be so selective and strict. In the fall every year, any Austrian students considering apprenticing will visit sites like Doppelmayr for one or two days, investigating the opportunity and company. Most years that’s around 700, Assmann estimates. Around half of them will apply for apprenticeship, which is around 350 to 400 who apply and begin the interviewing process. “And Doppelmayr takes around 20. So you can see why we don’t think it’s all that many.”

Learn more about their program here. Not surprisingly, the apprentices designed the page themselves.

Materials on this page is paid. The 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.




Photo of the Week: Telefercio de Alemao

Post by Nick Chu



“Cleaner” Transit Tech: Opening Reactions to MIO Cable

Post by Nick Chu

New transit infrastructure has the ability to excite people in many different and surprising ways.

Case in point: the recently opened MIO Cable in Cali, Colombia. We came across a heartwarming quote last week and just had to share it on the blog. Here’s what local resident Erlinda Tenorio had to say:

English: “Here we are rationing water, so I had to keep it in tubs and buckets so I could bathe and be ready for the opening [of the cable car]… There! There it is! Look, that’s my ‘ranch’ he shouts excitedly from one of the booths pointing to a small house made of brick and covered with shingles rusted zinc, where he has lived for forty years.”

Spanish: “Aquí estamos con racionamiento de agua, por eso me tocó guardarla en tinas y baldes para poderme bañar y estar lista para la inauguración… ¡Ahí está! ¡Ahí está! Mire, ese es mi ‘ranchito’”, grita emocionada desde una de las cabinas mientras señala una pequeña casa hecha en ladrillo y cubierta con tejas de zinc oxidadas, en la que vive desde hace cuarenta años.”

Now we’re not here to start a transit modal war nor are we transit zealots, but let’s be honest here, we highly doubt a bus (or even a train) could elicit such a response.


Akron Metro Gillig #2128 CNG

Would you ration water so you can bathe before you ride the new city bus? Well…I might but it’s really because I’m germaphobic (and a transit nerd).




History Repeats Itself in Cycles: Fatzer Ropes

Post by Steven Bochenek


La Paz Linea Roja urbane Seilbahn-5 klein

Fatzer ropes doing the heavy lifting in La Paz

In a world of pliable brands that lend their name to nearly anything, Fatzer remains focused on doing what it has always done. The company has been creating rope since 1836 and steel wire cable since around 1900. Imagine trying to compete with so many generations of insider know-how. Imagine to break tight bonds between Fatzer rope engineers and the leading, close-by ropeway engineers, at the heart (the Alp triangle of Switzerland, Austria, South Tyrol/Italy and Savoy/France) of ropeway technology, where all state-of-art ropeways ever have been and still are engineered.

“When you do one thing really, really well, like aerial wire rope for ropeways and cable cars it’s hard for competitors to keep up,” says Daniel Graf, Fatzer’s Head of Transportation Wire Rope.

It Starts With Rigourous, Extended Testing

Every new Fatzer rope is tested on an improbably short ropeway at the company’s manufacturing site in Romanshorn Switzerland. Their engineers run the ropes at variable tension loads and exceptionally high speeds, unlike anything they would ever experience in the real world. The testing continues around the clock for weeks, sometimes months.

With the two stations just a few dozen metres apart and the constant bending and straightening of the rope, the effect is like a gondola system on steroids. The ropes quickly pass tens of thousands of cycles. So the Fatzer engineers quickly learn the life expectancy of a given product, whether wire rope, splice connection or rope pulleys and sheaves.

The testing goes beyond spinning the rope through cycles. “Everything that comes into contact with the rope, is tested,” says Graf, “and clients do appreciate that.”

Quality of Relationships and Trust of Their Clients

Graf is quick to add that a quality product is only table stakes in the ropeway game. “We know our business inside out”, but also makes a point of knowing our clients’ businesses inside out too. And there is the Fatzer wire rope at play: meeting not only written specs but the customer’s practical needs.

“When you understand what your client needs, you can recommend a solution that saves them big money,” says Graf. Such knowledge of their clients’ business is more essential than ever these days when use of urban ropeways in metropolitan areas is rapidly expanding worldwide.

As an example, he talks of clients in Barcelona created a win-win when they put in a rope with Fatzer’s Performa rope. Here’s what Fatzer client Mr. Carlos Sanchez said: “Bullwheel and sheave linings wear is significantly decreased, to appreciably prolong the useful life of such wear parts. Consequently, it demands lower power consumption due to the lower friction of the rope with all different rolling elements.”

The client satisfaction went further. “Concerning rope stretch is very low, allowing the installation to operate without costly downtime for rope shortening work. In our case, the Telefèric de Montjuïc, after 22,000 hours of operation, needed no resplice yet.”

The Performa rope is so effective for urban ropeway use, it was awarded a Red Dot Design Award earlier this year.

The above is a paid advertisement. The 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.





Photo of the Week: Teleférico de Gaia

Post by Nick Chu



Love in the sky: Riding a gondola into a life of connubial bliss

Post by Steven Bochenek


Forgive our shortness of breath. We always get a little hypoxic at weddings.

Critics of cable car technology as public transport often deride it, so to speak, as ‘romantic’ and ‘pie in the sky’ — to which we retort:  what’s wrong with romance,  and can we make that wedding cake in the sky instead?

The brother of a friend was recently married 1,900 metres above sea level in the French Alps. Yes, that’s him in the photo. Transportation to the venue was provided courtesy of the Télécabine du Prarion, an especially romantic gondola which departs from Les Houches, near Chamonix. The entire wedding party rode the gondola up to the Prarion plateau and, from there, hiked to a charming nearby hotel.

Speaking of charming and hiking, invitations to the bridesmaids included a hearty carrier bag for their good shoes because, at altitude, the going can get a bit rough.

In this case, we agree that there is something rather romantic about cable cars as public transportation, but we aren’t the only ones. Nor are we though the only ones to find romance in public transportation at all. Consider the impossibly beautiful works of art that are subway stations in Russia and Sweden. Or google San Francisco cable car images if you happen to have an hour to kill.

Next stop: bliss!

Next stop: a lifetime of connubial bliss! (Photo from ski-leshouches.com)

Indeed, we can think of no greater compliment to gondolas than to call them romantic cake in the sky. After all, have you ever known anyone to get a public bus to drive them and their guests to their wedding?*

Get me to the bullwheel on time.

Get me to the bullwheel on time.

(*That was meant to be a rhetorical question. However, if you answered ‘yes’ are they still together?)

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