Post by Steven Dale
Back in January I drew attention to the Funivia del Renon in Bolzano, Italy. I suggested that it was likely a strong Urban Gondola system for teaching us about how to blend the stations into the surrounding urban fabric. Those comments, however, were made second-hand based on the few images and videos I could find of the system.
This past weekend, however, I had the opportunity to visit the Bolzano 3S in person. This is what I found. Note: This is Part 1 of a 3 part series of posts. Click here to read Part 2. Click here to read Part 3.
Introduction: The Good & The Bad
Built by Leitner (of the Poma-Leitner group), the Funivia del Renon (or Rittner Seilbahn for our German-speaking readers) is that company’s first foray into the realm of 3S cable systems and it shows.
The Funivia is a study in contrasts: both fascinating and infuriating all at the same time. It demonstrates all the potential cable has to offer the urban environment while undermining that potential with remarkably bad decision-making.
The system just seems so poorly misconceived. The high-cost technology used is utterly unjustified by the capacities involved. Decisions, meanwhile, regarding capacity and queue design make the system unpleasant to experience (a point which Part 3 of this series will focus on almost exclusively).
But if nothing else, the Funivia is beautiful. Shockingly, admirably beautiful. The stations are nothing short of stunning with near-perfect integration into the surrounding urban fabric. Contemporary design and architectural flourishes, meanwhile, befit its northern Italian location making the station-going experience something that transcends the utilitarian.
Despite the urban location of its lower terminal, the system can hardly be considered urban transit. The system is primarily used by tourists for resort purposes (yet with a surprisingly cheap round trip fare of only €3.50), connecting Bolzano to a small village at the top of the Ritten/Renon mountain. Nevertheless, the way in which the vehicles engage the urban fabric at the edge of Bolzano’s historic downtown suggests numerous possibilities for the urban environment.
- Speed: Up to 26 km/hr.
- System Length: 4.5 km.
- Stations: 2 terminals
- Capacity: 550 pphpd.
I’ve yet to find any reports on the cost of the system either from an operational or capital perspective. Maybe some of our German or Italian-speaking readers have come across those numbers. If so, please post them below in the comments.
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