Photo of the Week: Telefèric de Montjuïc

Post by Nick Chu

Montjuïc Seilbahn

Telefèric de Montjuïc. Image by Flickr user Ronny Siegel.

Photo by Flickr user Ronny Siegel.

Barcelona’s famous Telefèric de Montjuïc cable car seamlessly integrates with its urban surroundings and the local transit system. It’s mainly a tourist ride, direct to Montjuïc Castle, but the system is owned by the public transport agency. That makes it an anomaly in the transit world. With an average fare of 7 euros and annual ridership 1.3 million passengers, this system is a good example of how city transit agencies can build and integrate profitable transit infrastructure into their transport networks.

Every Thursday, the Gondola Project team will select stunning captures of CPT lines. We hope this will continue to bring more attention to the technology and provide visually impactful examples of cable car systems worldwide. If you’d like to submit or nominate a picture for our “Photo of the Week”, we’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment below or send us an email at gondola@creativeurbanprojects.com.



Gondolas for Mass Transit in a Rural Environment

Post by Nick Chu

Guest post by Ross Edgar.

Lake District in North West England. Image by Ross Edgar.

Cable Propelled Transit (CPT) is well established as the mode of transport of preference in ski resorts, and the use of CPT is becoming increasingly common in a mountainous setting for summer tourist activities (as discussed here and here). In addition, the profile of CPT is ever increasing as a means of mass transit within an urban environment. But what about the use of CPT for mass transit within a rural environment?

The concept in itself is not original. There are numerous examples in the Alps of small villages high up in the mountains, connected to larger towns in the valley below by a gondola or an aerial tram. But such cable systems are usually located in an area which combines a high tourist volume, access to winter and/or summer activities and a mountain environment. If any of these facets are removed, the number of examples of existing cable systems soon dwindles.

There has been very little consideration of CPT outside the two core areas described in the opening paragraph: access to tourist activities and urban transit. There are numerous scenarios outside of such applications where CPT could be of enormous benefit. For example, connecting towns and villages in a rural setting, whether tourists or mountains are involved or not, or reducing congestion on rural roads that experience high volumes of tourist traffic.

Lake District Cable Car Concept. Image by BBC.

Interestingly, just such a proposal found its way into the news late last year (reported here and here). The proposal was for a gondola system in the Lake District in the north of England. The Lake District is England’s most mountainous region, is home to England’s highest mountain and is an exceptionally popular tourist destination. At present, the Lake District is not home to any cable systems; in fact, there is only one Alpine-style cable system in the entire country (the Heights of Abraham pulsed gondola in Matlock Bath, described here).

The obvious application of gondola technology in the Lake District would be to provide access to a mountain peak with the promise of a number of summer tourist activities, as tried and tested in the Alps. However, this proposal in fact suggested connecting a number of villages, which are popular tourist destinations. While the terrain along the route in question is rugged and hilly, it is not mountainous. In addition, the proposed gondola connects a number of villages rather than providing access to a specific tourist activity. The primary function of the proposal seems to be to relieve the narrow, winding rural roads in the area of the cripplingly high volumes of tourist traffic that are experienced throughout the year, while also reducing pollutant emissions.

Unfortunately, the proposal stands little chance of success. The Lake District is subject to some of the most stringent planning regulations in the country and environmental groups generally take an anti-development stance. The area faces an unenviable balancing act between protecting one of the most beautiful regions in the country and attracting the tourists that the local economy depends upon. This is particularly challenging with the prospect of losing tourism to neighbouring Scotland, which seems to enjoy less stringent planning rules in its mountainous regions and has therefore developed further as a destination for outdoor pursuits (as described here).

The problem remains for the Lake District and for other, similar areas: how to develop the area’s infrastructure to cope with the high numbers of tourists, while not over-developing the region and destroying that which attracts tourists in the first instance. CPT certainly offers a number of benefits under such circumstances over alternative transportation infrastructure, including a small land area footprint, very low noise pollution, zero local pollutant emissions (zero total if renewable energy is used) and a high hourly passenger capacity, while being unaffected by road congestion and complex scheduling, and offering an enjoyable and relaxing journey with the potential for stunning views.

Whether or not this proposal sees the light of day ever again, the underlying principle highlighted is sound: CPT is a viable means of mass transit, whether in an urban environment or a rural environment.



Likoni Cable Express

Post by Nick Chu

A look at how the Likoni Cable Car may one day transform the stressful and chaotic 10 minute ferry ride to a convenient and comfortable 3 minute aerial commute.



System Dossier: Caracas Metrocable

Post by Nick Chu

Caracas Metrocable. Image by CUP.

The Caracas Metrocable, a 5-station urban cable car in the capital of Venezuela, was inspired in part by the Medellin Metrocable in neighbouring Colombia. A triumph of engineering, it is the first known CPT to incorporate two 90-degree turns. However that is only part of Metrocable’s success.

First, the Metrocable provides residents of in Barrio San Agustin, one of the city’s poorest and most disadvantaged neighbourhoods, better access to the Metro network. So it fully integrates with the public transit network. Passengers easily transfer from the cable car to the nearby Parque Central Metro station.

Even more interesting for urban planners, the system was conceived as part of a larger social redevelopment project. So its stations were built to house other amenities such as social spaces, clinics, supermarkets and nurseries!

Given the visibility of the system and its extensive coverage, the project also plays a symbolic role of progress and development. Overall, the government invested approximately $300 million to implement the entire project with the gondola costing an estimated $18 million.

Today, it continues to benefit the 40,000 residents living in the barrio as it has created an estimated 200 direct and 250 indirect jobs – many of which went to young people from the community. The success of this system has prompted the government to build and plan more even urban cable cars in the city.

Length (km) 1.8
Stations 5
Year Opened 2010
Capacity 1,200
Ridership (yearly) ~2,000,000
Trip Time 9 minutes
Maximum speed (m/s) 5


Weekly Roundup: Yenimahalle-Şentepe Cable Car Opens in Ankara, Turkey

Post by Steven Dale

Image by Flickr user sinan5806.

A quick look at some of the things that happened this week in the world of urban gondolas, cable cars and cable propelled transit:

Yenimahalle – Şentepe Teleferik (Ankara, Turkey)
We received news last year that Ankara’s urban cable car had begun operations in March 2014. But reports this week suggest that the 3.2km system opened on May 20. If Google Translate is accurate, perhaps this was a phased opening. If you know what is actually happening on the ground (or just a few metres up) we’d love to hear from you.

email: gondola@creativeurbanprojects.com

Buffalo SkyLine (USA)
CUP was in the Queen City this week to give an overview of urban gondola systems. The presentation served as a primer for an Outer Harbour gondola proposal by local group, Citizens for Regional Transit and 21st Century Park. A cable car system offers several advantages. For instance, it could be built at a fraction of the cost of a lift bridge but without impeding marine traffic. We think it would look beautiful too.

Mi Teleferico Annual Maintenance (La Paz, Bolivia)
It’s hard to believe La Paz’s Red Line has been operating for almost a year now. As part of the annual maintenance requirements, the system will be closed from May 25 to May 29. Next, the Green Line services will close for maintenance, June 1 to June 5. While these procedures may inconvenience commuters, they’re necessary to ensure maximum safety and reliability.



Photo of the Week: Skyline Gondola Rotorua

Post by Nick Chu

Image by Flickr user Photos_by_Angela.

Photo by Flickr user Photos_by_Angela.

Since opening in 1985, the Skyline Rotorua Gondola has been a key tourist attraction in the city of Rotorua, New Zealand. Once atop Mt. Ngongotaha, visitors can enjoy a long list of exciting activities, from hiking and mountain biking to luge rides, zip-lining and even wine tasting. Sign us up!

Every Thursday, the Gondola Project team will select stunning captures of CPT lines. We hope this will continue to bring more attention to the technology and provide visually impactful examples of cable car systems worldwide. If you’d like to submit or nominate a picture for our “Photo of the Week”, we’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment below or send us an email at gondola@creativeurbanprojects.com.



PERFORMA-DT Cable: Honourable Mention at Red Dot award 2015

Post by Nick Chu


Fatzer’s PERFORMA-DT wins honourable mention.

Fatzer’s PERFORMA-DT, a high performance stranded cable, was recognized as an Honourable Mention for design excellence in product design during this year’s Red Dot awards. The jury members reviewed and assessed nearly 5,000 entries from 56 countries.

The PERFORMA-DT is specially designed with plastic profiles which smooths the surface of a cable, thereby greatly reducing noise and vibration. This cable is particularly suited for urban gondola applications where high haulage capacities, greater passenger comfort and lower noise is needed.

To learn more, click here.

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