8 Ways To Define An Aerial Ropeway

Post by Steven Dale

Cable Propelled Transit is just one segment of a technology that has dozens of names, Aerial Ropeways being the most common. But what if you broke it down a bit more? Aerial Ropeways, after all, is a pretty broad term and one that’s not really applicable to the urban area.

So how about these:

  1. Resort & Theme Park Systems – Purely for tourism and recreational purposes, most typically found at ski hills. They’re located well outside of urban areas, or if they are in urban areas, they exist in theme parks and zoos. These are by far the most common of all cable and ropeway systems. You don’t need examples, because these are the ones most everyone are familiar with.
  2. Toys For Tourists – Systems located in urban areas, but existing almost exclusively for tourists. These are rarely built and almost always die on the table, rarely getting past the proposal stage. See here.
  3. Complementary Infrastructure – Systems that exist to service another more primary business need. They may carry commuters, tourists or business people. They are usually free to ride and exist as a kind of middle child between the resort systems above and the CPT systems below. Systems such as these are becoming more-and-more common, especially in airports and master planned developments such as casinos. The Mandalay Bay Cable Car, for example.
  4. CPT with Zero Integration – Urban systems primarily targeted towards local users. These systems have no physical or fare integration with existing transit systems or technologies. The Mount Avila system in Caracas, Venezuela is an excellent example.
  5. CPT with Physical Integration – Urban systems primarily targeted towards local users. Physical design of stations and the surrounding areas allow for ease of use and transfer between other transit technologies. But the systems suffer for lack of integration within the local fare structure. The Portland Aerial Tram, or the Innsbruck Hungerburgbahn for example. Like Zero Integration systems, they are very closely related to Toys For Tourists.
  6. CPT with Fare Integration – Urban systems primarily targeted towards local users and commuters. Systems suffer from a lack of physical integration, but benefit from being ticketed under the same fare structure/system as the surrounding transit network. New York’s Roosevelt Island Tram used to have Zero Integration, but since a deal was brokered in 2004, the system should be classified as one with Fare Integration.
  7. CPT with Full Integration – The holy grail of CPT. Local users benefit from full physical and fare integration schemes. Obviously the Medellin and Caracas Metrocables fall into this category.
  8. Educational Systems – One of the problems with explaining CPT is the lack of strong examples. Instead, it’s necessary to extrapolate and translate things learned from non-urban ropeways and apply those lessons to CPT in order to improve the technology. Educational Systems are all over the place. I’d suggest that almost all Aerial Ropeways are Educational, but some of the most important are the Grindelwald-First in Switzerland, the Norsjö Aerial Ropeway in Sweden, Vancouver’s Peak 2 Peak, and the Volkswagen Funitel in Slovakia. All have important lessons for anyone interested in creatively applying Aerial Ropeways in urban environments.

Can you think of other potential categories that were missed?

Want more? Purchase Cable Car Confidential: The Essential Guide to Cable Cars, Urban Gondolas & Cable Propelled Transit and start learning about the world's fastest growing transportation technologies.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Want more? Purchase Cable Car Confidential: The Essential Guide to Cable Cars, Urban Gondolas & Cable Propelled Transit and start learning about the world's fastest growing transportation technologies.


  1. a much better example than the mandalay bay cable seems to me the bangkok skytrain. well a little bit more solid but all in all pretty much the same. i'm not quite sure if you mentioned the swiss pavillon on the expo yet, but it's not important to your atricle. in my opinion with the actual capacity the cpt is in between bus and train/tram. so what for instance bus is doing in london is necessary for the underground. the other way around too. you wouldn't reach suburban underground stations neither would you get away from an underground station without getting wet (not the best reason - but for short distances the flexible bus system is definately the better and quicker choice). but of course some lines are pretty clear and long too, so why not adding a third way of transportation, to reduce the bus transportation. bus will need an investment of a bus-fleet for the line and drivers and maintenance. but on the other side you will have three options what to use and how long to use your feet. i'm not sure if people can handle this amount of possibilities. everybody wants it simple. so the usage in point 7 is in my opinion at that level nothing more than replacing the bus system - BECAUSE it is cheaper to build (compared to remove houses for making roads), the fastest way of transportation (because of the informal infrastructure) or at least the only option because trams on-ground-and-under couldn't handle the direct rise of the level. so the "additional" aspect is a very very important aspect and stands before 5,6,7 and 8. i think point 9 could be: working as a full system in itself. imagine a city, maybe in a valley or a mointain (or even flat) and districts are connected not by buses but just by a clever network system using cpt. well and sometimes you really don't need full integration, only a good reason. to reach points no other system could do.
  2. 9. Large Freight System: Transports Coal,Ore,Gravel other bulk goods or even cars between two sites. And nothing prevents CPT carrying ISO shipping containers. 10 Small Freight system: Low standard ropeway which cannot legally transport human passengers. Simple systems to connect a cottage in the mountain and transport goods and animals 11 Unique Access: The aerial ropeway is the only way besides a helicopter to get to a place like a mountain village at least during part of the year. A all year road would be to expensive for the few ihabitants. Carries citizens as well as cargo. Some even can carry cars or light trucks. Mostly two cabin system which are automated for 24h operation. The systems 9-11 can be urban or rural. Building a bridge for example is very expensive so a ropeway could be a cheaper solution and still have enough transport capacity.
  3. i was thinking about freight systems too, but i believe this should fit into #8 - at least number 8 should be renamed.
  4. Four of the eight are CPT sytems only differentiated by the degree of integration. So its only appropriate to add a own category for freight systems.