Emirates Air Line Cable Car: London’s Best Transport Line?

Post by Gondola Project

Image by Flickr user fsse8info.

Since the Emirates Air Line (EAL) cable car first took flight in 2012, local media coverage of the system has not been particularly kind. Detractors have called it everything and anything you could think of: white elephant, dangleway, Boris’s vanity project — just to name a few.

Unfortunately, what’s often lost in this conversation is the many successes experienced by London’s first and only urban gondola. As discussed in a previous post, an oft-forgotten but very important point is that the cable car actually makes a profit — a surplus of US$1.25mm (£1mm) since its opening. 

How many other public transport systems can say that? Very few except for a handful in highly dense Asian cities

Emirates Air Line Cable Car Customer Satisfaction

Emirates Air Line cable car rated the best transport mode in London. Image from Tfl.

A preliminary examination of the cable car’s performance data also depicts a much rosier picture than what is often associated with the cable car. In particular, the customer satisfaction report from Jan-Mar 2016 provides some great insight. 

Based on customer surveys conducted for all Transport for London (Tfl) modes, the Emirates Air Line cable car has consistently received the highest level of customer satisfaction at 93-94 points. Comparatively speaking, this is ~8-12 points higher than the customer satisfaction levels seen on the London Underground and ~17-19 points higher than London Roads.

What people like and dislike about the Emirates Air Line cable car.

What people like and dislike about the Emirates Air Line cable car. Image from Tfl. 

The urban cable car has also received much praise from sampled passengers (base size: 590-861) where personal safety, helpfulness/appearance of staff, ease of getting into cabin, and warmth /friendliness of staff were ranked as the system’s biggest strengths.

As for it weaknesses, respondents suggested that it did not have the best “Value for Money”. This seems somewhat counter-intuitive since a one-way adult ticket price is just USD$4.25-5.50 (£3.40-4.50). At this price, it would be more expensive than the mass transit cable cars in South America, but would be considered a huge bargain if compared to other recreational cable cars in major metropolitan cities. For instance, base adult fares for the Ngong Ping 360 (Hong Kong) and the Mount Faber Cable Car (Singapore) both start at a ticket price of more than US$23.00!

Even in local terms, considering that entrance fees for “observation/sightseeing” attractions such as the London Eye (USD$28.00-34.00) and View from the Shard (USD$32.00-38.50) start at USD$28, the cable car is way more affordable. 

While London’s urban gondola isn’t perfect, the cable car’s stories of successes should be shared as much as its stories of failures. 




Photo of the Week: Ngong Ping 360

Post by Nick Chu

#hongkong #ngongping360 #traveller #travelphotography #travelersnotebook #traveldiaries #travelgram #beautifuldestinations

A post shared by Roderick Samonte (@ericpsdancefit) on



Tbilisi / Georgian Ropeways, Part 1.1

Post by Gondola Project

Narikala Ropeway, one of Tbilisi's modern urban cable cars soaring towards the ancient Narikala Fortress. Image by Prasanna Raju.

The Narikala Ropeway — one of Tbilisi’s modern urban cable cars — soars across the Mtkvari River towards an ancient fortress. Image by Prasanna Raju.

Update February 10, 2017: As we’ve alluded to in our original post, filtering and interpreting Soviet-era information with a high degree of precision is proving to be a little more challenging than we first expected. 

To compound these difficulties, we’ve learned this week that much of the history for Georgian/Tbilisi ropeways may have been lost forever. During the tumultuous times in the 90s, the central ropeway repository along with other historical archives were subject to, how you would say, collateral damage (read: burned down). As a result, much of the data and knowledge is only available through word-of-mouth at this time. 

While this is undoubtedly terrible news, we do have some good findings to share. Thanks to reader Irakli Z’s incredible research skills, it appears that there were actually many more ropeways we didn’t list in the original article. In fact, during Soviet times, up to 10 urban ropeways (or 11 if you count one that was partially constructed) were built! 

Hopefully we can compile the data and share it online while we still can. At this time, we’ve updated the map to reflect these changes and will continue to provide findings (and hopefully not lack thereof) as it comes.  



System Dossier: Constantine Cable Car (Télécabine de Constantine)

Post by Jonathan Brodie

Constantine Cable Car. Image by Flickr user Bilouk Bilouk

Constantine Cable Car. Image by Flickr user Bilouk Bilouk

The mountainous terrain of Algeria poses a unique challenge for urban planners and developers. To solve this problem, several Cable Propelled Transit (CPT) systems have been built in Algerian cities throughout the country. These include ropeway systems in Algiers, Skikda, Tlemcen and Constantine. The installation of these gondola networks has been crucial to improving traffic flow and mitigating vehicular congestion.

In particular, Constantine has experienced great success with its urban cable car. Known as the City of Bridges, the municipality has built numerous overpasses to improve connectivity throughout the city’s challenging terrain. However, with rapid growth in the city, many of the existing bridges became overwhelmed. After much contemplation by city officials, the plan to construct the Constantine Cable Car (French: Télécabine de Constantine) was finally conceived in late 2006, and by June 2008, the system opened to the public.

Constantine Cable Car. Image by Flickr user Bilouk Bilouk

Constantine Cable Car. Image by Flickr user Bilouk Bilouk

With the arrival of the gondola, 100,000 residents in the city’s northern quarters were benefitted alongside 5,000 hospital workers.

The Constantine Cable Car is an MDG system built by the Doppelmayr Garaventa Group that transports passengers across the Rhumel Gorge. The system was designed with thirty-three 15-person cabins and an initial capacity of 2,000 pphpd. However, the capacity is expandable to 2,400 pphpd should passenger flows increase in the future.

The cable car makes 3 stops along its 7-minute journey: Terrain Tannoudji, Ben Badis Hospital, and Place Tatache. Since opening, the cable car has been an incredible success carrying 4.5 million passengers in its first year of operation and reaching 12 million passengers by 2012. This urban gondola is another example of how a CPT system can effectively enhance and complement a city’s existing infrastructure network.

Year opened 2008
Length (km) 1.63
Trip time (minutes) 7
Capacity (pphpd) 2,000 (expandable to 2,400)
Speed (m/s) 6.0


Technology overview:

Related Posts:

System Images:



Photo of the Week: Teleférico Metropolitano (Santiago Cable Car)

Post by Gondola Project

A photo posted by Rafael Paredes (@rafawensh) on



Tbilisi / Georgian Ropeways, Part 1

Post by Gondola Project

Narikala Ropeway, one of Tbilisi's modern urban cable cars soaring towards the ancient Narikala Fortress. Image by Prasanna Raju.

The Narikala Ropeway — one of Tbilisi’s modern urban cable cars — soars across the Mtkvari River towards an ancient fortress. Image by Prasanna Raju.

In the 8 years in which the Gondola Project has been online, our team has been on a journey to uncover the secrets of the urban gondola world and to share that knowledge with our readers. Most recently, a fellow researcher has helped our team learn more about the fascinating passenger cable lifts in Georgia (the country, not state).

To many North Americans (ourselves included), this developing democracy remains a bit of an enigma — located in the Caucasus Mountains surrounded by Russia, Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan and the Black Sea, Georgia’s unique geopolitical context, complex history and distinct language has often meant that it operated under the radar of English-speakers. However, this small country’s relationship with ropeway technology is arguably as rich as any of its counterparts in the Alps.



Before Georgia gained full independence in 1991, the country was an integral part of the Russian empire. According to researcher Irakli Z., Georgia was the heart and soul of the Soviet Union’s ropeway industry as it was the country’s only manufacturer of cable cars. 

Although Georgia is relatively small (about the same size as Ireland), an estimated 62-75 passenger ropeways have been built since the 1950s. In the capital city alone, a total of 6 ropeways were constructed during Soviet times — many of which were still operational up until the 90s. 

Map of Georgian Ropeways (dated 2012).

Georgian Ropeways mapped out across the entire country. Since the map was created back in 2012, some information is now dated.

While we’ve yet to come across any specific sources which explains why each of these systems became non-operational, it might be safe to assume that a combination of the Soviet Union collapse (1991), the Georgian Civil War (1991-1993) and Russo-Georgian War (2008) contributed to, and accelerated the neglect of these ropeways.

Fortunately, if the pace of recent development is any indication of Tbilisi’s desire to modernize its infrastructure, then the prospects for urban cable cars looks incredibly promising.

A report released by the Asian Development Bank in 2013, suggests that the city’s public transit company (Tbilisi Transport) already provides 1.15 million trips per year on its ropeway.

At this time of this article’s writing, three cable propelled systems provide recreational transport service: 

  1. Narikala Ropeway (2012) by LEITNER Ropeways
  2. Tbilisi Funicular (modernized 2013) by Doppelmayr/Garaventa
  3. Turtle Lake Ropeway (modernized 2016)

A full list of all the ropeways can be viewed in the map below. Note that while Google Translate has improved a lot, interpretational challenges still remain. If we have misinterpreted any information/details, please let us know in the comments section or email us gondola@creativeurbanprojects.com.

Overall, in this 3-part series, our hope is that we can help shed light on the many historical and modern Cable Propelled Transit (CPT) installations in Tbilisi, and to examine what the future might hold for urban gondolas in the Georgian capital.

Stay tuned for more.

Big thank you goes out to Irakli Z. for translating and sharing his research. If you would like to get involved in the Gondola Project, visit this page here



Photo of the Week: Portland Aerial Tram Turns 10!

Post by Nick Chu

Fun day with @cambriacsmith. We took a ride on this animal. #portland

A photo posted by Brandon Smith (@bdsmith84) on

Happy birthday to @theportlandtram! 10 years young! #tramturns10

A photo posted by PBOT (@pbotinfo) on

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