A Silver Bullet Urban Gondola Transit System

Post by Steven Dale

If I could think of one “Silver Bullet Urban Gondola Transit System” – that is a system that perfectly demonstrates the concept of Urban Gondolas and Cable Propelled Transit, I’d imagine this:
  1. Integrated by fare. The system must use the same fare system as the rest of the city’s transit grid. It must be a part of the system. Transfers have to be included, free of charge.
  2. Physically integrated. The system must allow for easy transfers between modes in whatever way is common to that city’s existing transfer system.
  3. Multiple stations. Even if the first two are accomplished, a point-to-point system still won’t do it. If the system is point-to-point, people will still believe the technology is only capable of such, nothing more. Multiple stations are essential.
  4. Corners. Not essential, but important. People still often believe corners to be impossible. A system with corners would show the world what the technology can do.
  5. A 3S. Again; not essential, but important. It’s important to eliminate the ski lift ported into cities image. The 3S changes all that. Even better, how about Urban Concept vehicles?
  6. Hot & Cold. This one barely needs explaining. Heated and air-conditioned vehicles is an absolute prerequisite.
  7. Zero topography. The only topographical challenges the system must overcome are buildings and/or traffic. Nothing else. No rivers, no mountains, no steady and slight inclines, no nothing. Flat is what we’re talking about here. Why? Because until a system such as this is built, people will continue to believe the technology is only appropriate for conquering natural obstacles.

So far many systems exist demonstrating one or more of the above. What we need to see is one that demonstrates all of the above.

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. I understand why #7 is on your list, but the counterpoint is that urban gondolas ARE good for conquering natural obstacles at a reasonable price, and in so doing they can potentially open up previously unthinkable multi-mode transit system designs, and indeed previously unthinkable urban development patterns. So I don't quite agree that "a system that perfectly demonstrates the concept of Urban Gondolas and Cable Propelled Transit" would fail to demonstrate this fundamentally important aspect of urban gondolas. I think what you need in an ideal demonstration system is both aspects: a portion with recognizable independent value that doesn't feature any notable topographical challenges, and also a portion that sparks the imagination of transit and urban planners, getting them to start thinking about what would be possible in other cities if they had this technology to work with.
  2. Oh, and I am not sure about the 3S thing either. Again, I get the point, but not on your list was something I would personally place quite high: a system that minimized physical and aesthetic impact. The slimmer the towers, the sleeker the stations (particularly secondary/corner stations), and so forth, the better. I don't really know, but from what I have seen here it looks to me like there may be some serious tension between that goal and wanting to use 3S. So I would at least ask the question whether you could import some of the design elements and aesthetic of the Urban Concept vehicles into a technology that would require less of a physical impact for the non-vehicle infrastructure.
  3. Agree. The proposed Norwalk gondola (back in June I think on this page) for instance would run perfectly with MDG. Especially the idea of corners is more attractive to solve with that one. But I think when you're talking about that silver-bullet-urban-gondola you're talking about big cities like Toronto or similar. @BrianTH: Agree with your last proposal. The 3S system for instance is pretty strong. Whistler has just 2 towers and a distance filled with cabins of around 4 km in between. Koblenz for instance has much smaller stations and a much smaller length of the whole line. So I assume weight is not what really matters, it's most likely the size of cabins and of the station. In particular the resulting length and space of the angle where people enter and exit. That impacts on the width of the system itself which is in case of 3S around 11m. The question is, how much bigger MDG's could be made to increase the comfort of travelling within those boxes and of course the new possibilities with the seat layout (I wouldn't add further seats - keep the same weight just with more room and better design). @Steven: the only thing people will have to understand is: uhh interesting, it's doing the same job a bus is doing.
  4. I was actually thinking BDG might split the difference nicely.
  5. BDG and MDG cabins are almost the same aren't they? Didn't look that one up but I remember both cabin designs pretty unattractive.
  6. From what I have seen, the cabin designs for BDG systems have in fact typically looked like MDG cabins--maybe a bit bigger, but not always, since part of the appeal of BDG is better wind-resistance, less swaying, and being able to cross longer spans between towers, and you might want that even without bigger cabins. Those other characteristics would be part of the appeal in urban settings as well--you may want fewer towers, fewer days lost to wind, and so forth. But I am also wondering if you could take the largest BDG cabins (I have seen up to 16-passenger capacity), and give them an "urban concept" treatment. I'm just guessing, but eyeballing the bigger existing BDG cabins, and imagining them more rectangular than square, I'm thinking you could get something like 12 or so bucket seats in them, arranged in rows (something like a 3-2-2-2-3 configuration), with room to squeeze in a few more standing. The seats in the middle wouldn't be at windows, but that is OK--this is transit!
  7. why stop at just corners, what about turns that are "vertical corners" or some combination of rise and cornering?
  8. @Rose: what do you have in mind with "vertical corners"?
  9. going parallel to the street the straight up and over something. like an L- shape. the same thing you would do to go over a mountain, but instead of using that idea to battle geographical obstacles, utilize that for [tall] city obstacles.
  10. @Rose it's called an elevator.
  11. @Steven Dale These things won't work with zero topography. Traversing mountains is the point of gondolas, no?
  12. I think we should add speed as number 8. The gondola should be at least as fast as a bus serving the same stations during off peak times. If not people will keep on nagging over the slow speed. IMHO speed is more important than 3S if a MDG,BDG,Funitel or whatever can do it nobody really will care about the configiration of the ropes. And another question is should this be exlusively apply for suspended system or could supported system like the Leitner Mini Metro or Doppelmayr DCC also be considered. Currently only the supported system apply to all criteria.
  13. Integrated by design as well. And zero topography is absolutely possible. It is not about the topography under the track, it's about the absolutely minimalistic constructive needs of that system. Pillars, a rope and stations.
  14. As with any elevated system, gondolas can avoid competing with other possible uses for scarce surface space, including other transportation systems. As I suggested before in another thread, I think the one-line description that captures all this, more or less, is: "Gondolas are a much cheaper and much more pleasant alternative to tunnels." This notion applies to tunnels under mountains or rivers, but also tunnels under built-up areas.
  15. I agree with matthias, let the engineers pick the technology. It just because current 3s cabins look desirable, it does not mean the same cabin style cannot be applied to other wire configurations. @g3org3 I think you have completely missed the message behind this blog.
  16. @Scott B i don't think i have. blogs are for sharing thoughts and opinions. this is what i have done. maybe you disagree. in which case what IS the message behind this blog then? so as i may better understand these "rules" in the future.
  17. Steven, I was referring to this comment "@Steven Dale These things won’t work with zero topography. Traversing mountains is the point of gondolas, no?" I feel that while gondolas are good at traversing mountains, they can also preform in other applications. g3org3, I feel the general message behind Steven's blog is that cable based technology can be integrated into public transport (transit) networks. I feel, Steven has gone to great lengths to compare gondolas to street running systems (i.e. trams) to propose that cable borne technology can compete in terms of capacity and speed. Of course feel free to make your own assessment of the message behind Stevens work. I felt your comment contradicted much of the rest of the blogs content. In hindsight I should answer tactfully or not at all, sorry for any offense caused by my blunt answer.