27
Jul

2015

System Dossier: Roosevelt Island Tram

Post by Nick Chu

Tram

The Roosevelt Island Tram is considered America’s first CPT system and a true pioneer in the field of urban cable car transport. The Tram was necessitated by the development of Roosevelt Island when many residents started moving onto the island’s new housing projects in the 1970s.

The Tram was built by Von Roll (a now defunct manufacturer) and was first opened for passenger service in July 1976. It was designed as a stop-gap measure to temporarily transport commuters over the East River to Manhattan before a subway was to arrive.

However, as time passed with no signs of an underground connection, citizens continued to take to the skies where the aerial lift became further entrenched into the lives of island commuters. Perhaps due to a combination of its novelty, aerial views (up to heights of 76m), and the fact that most commutes in New York are dark, cramped and miserable, the Tram quickly became an instant success and was soon converted into a permanent piece of transport.

Even though the island is served by a subway today, over 2 million riders hop aboard the Tram for panoramic views each year. In fact, it is considered an icon of the island and has been featured in popular media channels, including Spider-Man (2002) film.

After 34 years in operations, the Tram owners (Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation) decided to upgrade the system in 2010. Amazingly, the Tram ran for more than double its projected service life of 17 years with only two breakdowns. POMA, a French manufacturer of cable lifts was selected to modernize the system and after 8 months of construction work, the Tram reopened to passengers in November 2010.

The new system, no longer operates in a jig-back (aerial tram) configuration, rather the cabins are able to operate independently from each other. This new “dual haul” configuration results in improved efficiency, reliability and demand responsiveness.

Length (km) 1.0
Stations 2
Year Opened 1976 (modernized 2010)
Capacity 1,500
Fare $2.75
Trip Time 3-4 minutes
Maximum speed (m/s) 8
24
Jul

2015

Weekly Roundup: Cable Car Report Released in Geneva; K’Nex Challenge Aboard the Emirates Air Line

Post by Nick Chu

View from Le Salève down to Veyrier and surrounds communities around Lake Geneva. Image from Wikipedia.

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

Urban Cable Car for Geneva? (Switzerland)
Luc Barthassat, Switzerland’s Minister of Transport, commissioned a study in 2014 to analyze the possibility of an urban gondola in Geneva. Last Friday the report was finally released. While precise routes have yet to be determined, the study mentions a potential alignment connecting the municipality of Veyrier.

Emirates Air Line Teams Up With K’Nex (London, England)
K’Nex toys and London’s Emirates Air Line are joining forces next week to offer families a fun challenge aboard the cable car. Entrants will have 20 minutes (the round trip) to build a structure with K’Nex — something inspired by their trip over the Thames. Prizes include tickets for the cable car, an aviation experience and a tub of K’Nex. Participation is free but entrants must register by July 26.

Sinaia Gondola to Open in December (Prahova County, Romania)
The mountain resort town of Sinaia will have a new gondola come this December. The cable car will link the hotel Cota 1400 to the ski area of Cota 2000. The €7.5 million system will support tourism in the Sinaia area, which already attracts 150,000 tourists each year.

23
Jul

2015

Photo of the Week: Zao Ropeway (Sancho Line)

Post by Nick Chu

Sendai_Zao_ropeway-7

About:

Built in 2003, the Zao Ropeway (Sancho Line) is a 1.8km funitel system in Yamagata, Japan. This cable car is a popular attraction for skiers, sightseers and hikers travelling from Juhyō-Kōgen to Zaō-Jizō-Sanchō. A statue of deity Zao Jizoson shares the space at the summit of Mt. Jizo with a restaurant — addressing visitors’ spiritual and physical needs. The mountain is also renowned for its hauntingly beautiful frost-covered trees.

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.

20
Jul

2015

Ropeways for Waves Have Dudes Everywhere “Like Totally Stoked!”

Post by Nick Chu

Wavegarden. Image from LEITNER Ropeways.

Surfing is not just for beach boys and Internet users any more. Using LEITNER Ropeway’s DirectDrive technology, Wavegarden has partnered with the South Tyrolean company to design a system that creates the world’s longest artificial surfing wave.

Consider the confluence: mountain technology bringing ocean shore culture inland.

The system generates continuous waves with ropeway technology where a watercraft is pulled through the pier. The results are 0.5 -1.9m high waves enabling surfers to ride for 18-35 seconds.

Described by enthusiasts as both “awesome” and “excellent!”, these perfect waves are ideal all surfer levels, from beginners to vets who regularly hang ten. The first inland surfing facility is being built right now in Austin, Texas.

For more information, click here.

17
Jul

2015

Weekly Roundup: Urban Cable Car in Samut Prakan & Snow Day in La Paz

Post by Nick Chu


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

Urban Cable Car Crossing Chao Phraya (Samut Prakan, Thailand)
A US$11.7 million cable car is being planned for Samut Prakan, the province 29km south of Bangkok. The cable car will connect to the old Phra Samut Chedi district and integrate with the extension of the Skytrain’s Green Line. Planners hope this gondola crossing the Chao Phraya river will bring the area more attention and attract tourists.

“S’no Problem” (La Paz, Bolivia)
Skeptics who question whether urban gondolas could operate even in snowy conditions are invited to view this video. Or just see above.

But Arthurs Seat Skylift Gondola Is a Problem (Australia)
Opponents of the Arthurs Seat Skylift are planning to bring up two matters to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT). First, they are seeking to clarify the timing of the release of emergency management and bushfire plans, which we agree are critically important. Secondly, they will raise concerns regarding the colour of the gondola cabins. We like yellow.

16
Jul

2015

Photo of the Week: Dubrovnik Cable Car

Post by Nick Chu

Cable car

About:

In just 4 minutes, the Dubrovnik Cable Car travels a length of 778m, transporting sightseers to the top of Srđ Hill (405m asl). The city had an older cable car built in 1969 until it was disabled during the Croatian War of Independence in the ‘90s.

Luckily for today’s tourists though, the system was restored in 2010. So millions of annual visitors can enjoy stunning panoramic views of this historic walled city, Adriatic Sea and surrounding islands.

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.

13
Jul

2015

Private Gondola Transport: A Sign of Things to Come?

Post by Nick Chu

Kadenwood Gondola. Canada’s first exclusive neighbourhood gondola. Image from Kadenwood.

Ropeways are built for many reasons: skiing, sightseeing, amusement, public transport, and private transport. Yes, that’s right private transport. It’s actually more common than you might think.

We’ve reported examples on the Gondola project before – like the Kriens funicular, Terra del Mar funicular, and of course, some of the rich and famous have their own personal systems.

Recently reader Evan J, sent us a video of Canada’s first exclusive neighbourhood aerial cable car, the Kadenwood Gondola.

Built for $3.5 million in 2008/2009, it serves the 60 home-sites in one of Whistler, B.C.’s wealthiest communities (lots start at $1.0 million, home not including).

A testament to the ski-in/ski-out lifestyle promise, the pulsed gondola transports residents from their doorsteps to the Whistler Creekside Village and the base of the Creekside gondola in 6 minutes flat – pretty useful to grab a pint in the village in case you didn’t want to call your chauffeur or get pulled over drinking and driving your Ferrari.

Astute readers will note that private gondolas are common in Europe and nothing to fret over. (You could even argue the people movers in airports and casinos are private ropeway transport.) Still, to us here in frozen old Canada, an exclusive gondola seems pretty special.

Aria Express (aka City Center Tram) is a bottom supported CPT system connecting the Bellagio and Monte Carlo casinos. Image from Wikipedia.

This got me thinking: do private gondolas have a role in society? Absolutely.

What implications could cost-effective private gondolas have for master planned communities around the world? Perhaps the future is one where governments pay for high-speed long distance trunk lines connecting different nodes while local developers pay for the internal circulators within.

Given the burgeoning income divide, great urban migration and increasingly broke governments, ropeways could behave like the entry points do now in privately owned, master-planned neighbourhoods.

We already see this today when it comes to roads.

Governments construct highways and major arterials while local developers pay for local roads in a development. Meanwhile, in dense urban environments, governments pay for transport infrastructure surrounding office and condo towers but don’t pay for internal public transit circulation within buildings.

That is, elevators — arguably the largest private public transit technology in the world, but so common, they’re rarely considered.

Should we be thinking about our public transit systems in a similar fashion? To do so, a low-cost and virtually on-demand system is essential. Subways and LRT are attractive but cost prohibitive to most private groups.

A lightweight and cost-effective gondola could fill this niche.

In fact, this trend seems to be already happening in many communities around the world. Developers in ski towns such as Breckenridge and Beaver Creek have already discovered the immense advantages of building gondolas around master planned communities.

Perhaps then it’s just a matter of time before others in the private sector catch onto the technology as cities did not too long ago.

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