19
Aug

2014

NYT: Subway in the Sky – La Paz

Post by Nick Chu

Even though we’re now seeing more and more Cable Propelled Transit (CPT) systems being implemented around the world, mainstream North American media has, arguably, paid little attention to urban gondola lifts.

This past weekend, however, New York Times flew their correspondents down to La Paz and documented the city’s Red Line, — or what they cleverly termed, “Bolivia’s Subway in the Sky”.

They even made a short film about it and interviewed locals what they thought of their brand new cable car.

The article is a wonderful inside look into how the cable system is not only transforming the city’s public transit network, but how a cable car line is actively breaking down cultural and social stigmas.



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15
Aug

2014

Weekly Roundup: Work to Begin on Lagos Cable Car?

Post by Nick Chu

View of Victoria Island in Lagos, Nigeria. Image by Flickr user Anders Broberg.

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

 

 



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12
Aug

2014

Improving Transit Culture – Cultivating A Sense of Ownership and Pride

Post by Nicholas Chu

Post by Mauricio Miranda. 

For years, we have witnessed the rise of cable car technology as a game changer in the realm of urban transportation. And in some cities, certain transit agencies are now aiming to create a more personal connection between the gondola networks they’ve built and the people they serve.

In Medellin and La Paz, in particular, transit culture has never been so highly regarded. If you ask any local about their thoughts towards their transit system, you will immediately sense their pride — it’s as though they considered the transit system to be their very own, similar to the way one might feel about their own soccer team or personal vehicle.

fkljsda. Image from hoybolivia.com

Image from hoybolivia.com

Bolivian cable car provider “Mi Teleferico” (loosely translated as “my gondola” or “my cable car”) is trying to create and promote a sense of ownership by addressing one of the most difficult challenges that the vast majority of young adults face: acquiring your first formal job.

In many developing nations (and sometimes even in developed ones), paid part-time employment in a recognized organization is something that not every university student has access to, and can be easily considered a luxury. Now, in La Paz, university students have the opportunity to work in the transit industry through a program called “Trabajo Con Altura de Mi Teleferico” which translates to “My Cable Car’s High Standard Jobs.”

In order to allow as many as possible to experience this program, the ‘internship’ is only allowed to be taken once by the top students in La Paz’s universities. The purpose of this initiative is to not only instil in students the importance of service-oriented values but it is also to introduce them to the new challenges found in Bolivia’s transportation sector.

Overall, this program has three main strategic objectives in mind:

  • To provide the best service possible to citizens and visitors
  • To promote the cable car culture and a sense of ownership
  • To consolidate the state-owned cable transportation company Mi Teleferico
Image from miteleferico.bo

Image from miteleferico.bo

However, La Paz isn’t the only city to develop of this sort of transit-oriented social program. The Metro Medellin (which manages the Colombian city’s HRT, BRT, LRT and CPT) was the first public transportation company in Latin America to implement the idea of including students aged 18–25 years old in their operations staff.

All the train lines of the Metro Medellin are exclusively driven by more than 250 students that spend half of their time in a post-secondary school, and the rest of the day driving high technology trains (a job that also provides a paycheque to fund their higher-education studies).

The drivers are chosen from a rigorous screening process due to the high importance profile that the job demands — after all, they are responsible for thousands of lives on a daily basis. Medellin’s cable-car system, Metrocable, uses a similar staff structure, as all of their customer-service related activities are carried out by students from across the city.

Image from blogs.unaula.edu.co/.

Image from blogs.unaula.edu.co/.

While it’s impressive to see how Metro Medellin has transformed the lives of students who would otherwise struggle financially to complete their professional endeavours, there’s a further upside to the student employment program: strengthening the connection between the community and the transit service that has transformed Medellin.

Creating a sense of ownership in this industry is not easy. Firstly , you need a system that does the job efficiently. Then— and this is where it gets complicated — you need a service that delivers its users benefits beyond their private agendas.

Transit agencies must strive towards providing programs and services that address and respect the needs of the people it serves. Once you do that, a system can begin to close the gap between the provider and user, and help foster the notion that, for the riders, the system truly is there own.



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05
Aug

2014

Elka – A chairlift That Evokes Unforgettable Memories

Post by Nick Chu

This is a guest post by Tomek Magiera. 

Elka. Image by T. Magiera.

The new “Elka”. Image by T. Magiera.

If you ask people living in Silesia (a region in the south of Poland) about any chairlift that comes to their mind, most of them will probably say “Elka”. This ropeway is apparently one of the first “lowland” chairlifts built in Europe.

“Elka” is located in Silesia Park in Chorzów and has been in operation since September 1967. After service was halted for seven years between 2006-2013, the old network of 3 chairlift rides was replaced with a single combined lift.

Elka Map

Map of old and new Elka system. Old system drawn in black line and new system in red line.

For the first 39 years of operations, passengers rode on three chairlifts laid in a triangular configuration (all of which were 2-CLF). The stations were located next to the main attractions: the theme park, Silesian Stadium and the Silesian Planetarium. The ride on all chairlifts took approximately 1 hour. With a speed of 1.6 m/s the chairlifts covered a distance of almost 6 kilometers.

Old Elka Chairlift. Image from Fotopolska.eu.

Riding above the flower gardens. Image from Fotopolska.eu

The main highlight of the ride was the nature of Silesia Park: the rosarium (with more than 300 types of roses), parterres (with remarkable shapes that could only be seen from the height) and animals in the zoo. All of that could be admired from a height of 10 meters. The chairlift was also a popular dating spot so it’s likely that the system brings pleasant memories to many people.

The normal hours of operation of the chairlifts were from 10 am till 8 pm. However two times a year during communist holidays, it was extended till 3 am. Special light shows were held in the Park and colorful lights were mounted above every chair. These events made “Elka” so popular that some people would refuse to leave the area at 3am which unfortunately resulted in police intervention from time to time.

Image by T. Magiera.

Station interiors. Image by T. Magiera.

The name of “Elka” is an acronym of “Elektryczne Koleje Linowe (Electric Ropeways)”. But it is also confused by many locals with the short form of the name Elisabeth, which in Polish is Ela or Elka.

In 2006 the chairlift was shut down due to the system’s deteriorating technical condition (which mostly concerned the towers) and during the next two years the entire system was completely removed. After servicing patrons for nearly 40 years, the chairlift had carried about 15.5 million passengers.

New "Elka" system. Image by T. Magiera.

New “Elka” system. Image by T. Magiera.

The new ‘Elka’ is a 4/8 CGD system with 45 carriers – 30 chairs (4 passengers/chair) and 15 gondolas (8 passengers/cabin). Every gondola is named after a great personality of the Silesia region.

In 2006, during the first two months after operations had ceased, a survey was carried out. The respondents were asked about the future of “Elka”. The questions that were asked among others included:

  • Should chairlift should be repaired or replaced? – 90% of respondents were in favour of repairs;
  • Number of sections? – 98% were in favour of 3 sections;
  • Capacity of chairs? – 77% were in favour of two-person chairs;
  • If the respondents had sentimental feelings for the old “Elka”? – almost 90% of them said they had.

Unfortunately, because of insufficient funds, only the most popular section (between the theme park and stadium) was replaced. The total cost of the ropeway amounted to 33 million Polish Zloty (approx. US $11.16 million) and the ticket price is currently set at 10 Polish Zloty (US $3.30) for a one way trip and 15 Polish Zloty (US $5.00) for a roundtrip.

Despite some claiming that all three sections should have been rebuilt and that the old “Elka” lines should have been restored, the new combined lift was enthusiastically accepted by locals. The popularity of “Elka” is clearly seen on weekends, when a queue is certain. However during weekdays you can easily pick your own chair or gondola.

Gondolas arriving and departing station. Image by T. Magiera.

Gondolas arriving and departing station. Image by T. Magiera.

In my opinion the combined lift was the best technical ropeway solution for Silesia Park. The chairs are the connection between the old and the new “Elka”, while the gondola cabins give the system a little something extra — improved transport for persons with disabilities and young children (the aerial ride was absolutely exciting for my 1-old daughter).

Lastly, I feel that this kind of ropeway system should be considered more by the professionals who plan and design park areas. As Elka demonstrates, ropeways are often not only a means of transport, but also an attraction in and of itself.


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01
Aug

2014

Weekly Roundup: Hamburg Residents to Vote on Fate of Urban Cable Car Proposal

Post by Nick Chu

Hamburg Seilbahn. Image from http://www.hamburger-seilbahn.de/.

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



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31
Jul

2014

Cable Car Photo of the Week: Namsan Cable Car

Post by Nick Chu

Namsan Cable Car. Image by Flickr user Tim Adams.

Photographer: 

Photo by Flickr user Tim Adams.

About:

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.



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29
Jul

2014

Heineken’s Vision for Future Urban Transport

Post by Nick Chu

Gondola Project reader Tomek recently shared with us link of Heineken’s vision for future urban transport. The Dutch brewing company released the video as part of it’s campaign to encourage men to explore their cities.

The ad is an entertaining 2 minutes, but for those short on time, skip to the last 10 seconds! Enjoy.




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