22
Dec

2010

The Problem With Metrocables

Post by Steven Dale

Getting people to experience systems like the Medellin Metrocable will be one of the cable industry's big challenges in the coming years. Image by gab.

There’s no nice way to say this, but here goes:

Had the Metrocables of Medellin and Venezuela been built in a place like Denver, Copenhagen or Zurich, this conversation about cable transit would be entirely different than it is now. Cities would be building these things faster than the industry could keep up.

We wouldn’t even need this site, to be completely honest.

One of the first things a planner, policy-maker or politician has to do before implementing any radical new idea is to witness it first hand. Similarly, a journalist needs to experience something up close to effectively comment upon it.

That first-person encounter with a new idea, technology or innovation can change people’s perception in an instant. When one sees, feels, touches and experiences something up-close and in-person, it is in that moment when a person’s mind can be changed.

In other words, for the right people to get cable transit they need to experience cable transit.

But that’s very, very difficult with world affairs such as they are:

  • Given the constant strain between the Venezuelan and United States governments, no American politician (or American-friendly politician) is going to be caught dead traveling to Caracas to explore a transit system with an explicit socialist bent to it. Better luck getting them to visit Cuba.
  • Algeria only recently emerged from a decade civil war that claimed tens of thousands of lives. Parts of the country are still ‘no-go’ zones. It’s also predominantly Muslim. That presents a problem in a post-9/11 world.
  • Colombia has relapsed into violence and the U.S. State Department has issued an updated travel warning saying that violent crime is up in some major Colombian cities, including Medellín.
  • Favelas targeted for Metrocables in Rio have erupted in violence, delaying openings. Even when the World Cup and Olympics finally arrive in Rio, how many upper-middle-class sports tourists will trek off-the-beaten path into the favelas just to witness a gondola?

Do any of these places look like desired destinations for city councillors, policy wonks, or transit administrators? Probably not.

Trouble is, these are the only four places where urban gondolas have truly been integrated into the local transit network. These are the four places that any planner or politician interested in cable needs to see.

But most likely they won’t. This is one of the biggest challenges the cable industry faces right now.

Yes, the industry has demonstrated that they deserve to be part of the public transit family, but they’ve not been able to leverage that demonstration on a global stage which primarily takes the form of American and Western European cities and media.

How the industry navigates this current challenge will likely determine cable transit’s future for a very long time to come.



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Comments

  1. sounds like it's time for some "random" city councilors, policy workers, and transit administrators to win a FREE TRIP TO MEDELLIN OR ALGERIA! well, it worked on 30 Rock, at the end of season 3, at least.
  2. Rio stands out in this list, but even so, this is why London may be key.
  3. Maybe "key" is an overstatement. What I imagine is that London may make a more serious, South-American-style, urban gondola system in the English-speaking world more likely. But I'd agree it would be fair to say it is the latter that would actually be the key to more widespread adoption of the technology.
  4. # Steven: "Do any of these places look like desired destinations for city councillors, policy wonks, or transit administrators? Probably not. Trouble is, these are the only four places where urban gondolas have truly been integrated into the local transit network." Oh Steven, send them to Romania (European Union), into the modern town of Mamaia near Constanta, to take a bath at the Black Sea: ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mamaia ) There they can bath AND use a nice gondola transit system: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=29Rt4skX878 (it is a very narrow peninsula with much passenger traffic and less space)
  5. Send them to San Francisco or to Barcelona...
  6. Most of the EXPOs have an urban gondola transit system. Perhaps 2012 Yeosu, Südkorea Expo 2012 ? Perhaps 2015 Mailand, Italien Expo 2015 ?
  7. Perhaps at the APTA EXPO, New Orleans? http://www.aptaexpo.com/apta2011/public/Content.aspx?ID=920&sortMenu=105000&MainMenuID=920 We must ask the ropeway manufacturers...
  8. Aren't all EXPO's somehow very tourist-oriented? But there are so many places where metrocable really would work, starting first with a good analysis of the given situation without beautifying the numbers and reasons. But it seems not everybody is able to do that on their own,...
  9. Is it possible to send planners, policy-makers or politicians from USA or Canada to Israel? Browsing through my brain for another urban ropeway I remembered 'Haifa' " The Haifa cable car is part of the city's new public transport system, scheduled for completion along with the Metronit in 2010. The route will run 4.4 kilometres from Check Point Junction at the foot of Mount Carmel to the Technion ( = Institute of Technology) and then onto the University of Haifa. Most of the passengers are expected to be students. Total travel time from Check Post Junction to the University of Haifa is estimated at 15 minutes. It is being built by the Yefeh Nof municipal transportation company. The project cost an estimated 180 million NIS. It is part of a wider plan to address the traffic congestion in Haifa." found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cable_cars_in_Haifa You could ask Mr. Ringer, if the new cable car of Haifa has been finalized? "At present he is the Project Engineer for the "Haifa Bay – Technion - University Ropeway", a ropeway for urban transportation in Haifa " found here: http://www.isr.at/printversion.cfm/id/22964 (read first the last paragraph about 'THE AUTHOR' ! )
  10. technical details: cable-length 4,4 km (one direction or both ???) altitude difference 470 m 6 stations, 3 separated lines; 5 m/s gondola interval 11 seconds source:http://www.yefenof.co.il/index.php?m_id=42&if_link=0
  11. Guenther, one direction. I compared the images with google maps and it was clear. Though I was expecting 3 separated lines and all I could see was one line. Hmmm, they probably meant one line with 3 segments/sections from Haifa Bay to University of Haifa - on the hill.
  12. @ "no politician is going to be caught dead traveling to Caracas to explore a transit system with an explicit socialist bent to it." Why bother? If they want to ride socialist transit, all they have to do is walk to the closest local bus or subway stop. The only non-socialist transit anywhere is taxicab or jitney. @ "(CPT) has demonstrated that it deserves to be part of the public transit family" Au contraire. Until it can provide heat and AC and operate at 'just-above- street-traffic height, CPT does not deserve to be part of the public transit family. On the other hand, other transit forms - which do have AC and heat, are low-level, and are vastly more energy-efficient than CPT - and which have also been discussed in this forum - have demonstrated that that they deserve to be part of the transit family. Note that I did not use the world 'public' (i.e. 'socialist') in my description.
  13. You contend that if politicians and planners could see, feel, and experience a certain four cities' cable transit, we would have urban cable coming out of our ying yang. I put it to your readers: "Why is that the WORST possible idea?"
  14. #Steven "Given the constant strain between the Venezuelan and United States governments, no American politician (or American-friendly politician) is going to be caught dead traveling to Caracas to explore a transit system with an explicit socialist bent to it. Better luck getting them to visit Cuba. " To which countries American/Canadian can travel without prejudices or travel warning ?
  15. @Steven "My comment about “socialism” was in the context of the geopolitical relationships between America and Venzuela which are such that – I think it reasonable to say – no American politician would be “caught dead traveling” to Caracas. Big difference." Except that your comment was about "exploring transit systems with an explicit socialist bent". I repeat myself" if anyone - politician, planner, gondola affectionato - wants to "explore a transit system with an explicit socialist bent", all they need do is get to the hearest bus stop. (For what it's worth, socialist Venezuela supplies America with nearly one million barrels of oil a day.) I wouldn't be regurgitating the 'socialist' issue, except for the fact that as long as we have morons in the drivers seat, WhamBamTram is really all we'll ever get to ride. This might be worth a post entitled "Could urban gondola end socialist transit?"
  16. There are a cable car across a exhibition area at Texas, said my brain. Not so far to visit for American politicians. But the problem is, these politicians don't go by bus or another transit system to their work. They all go every day by car. I believe, no politician would travel with a cable propelled transit system, even it is at the center of Chicago, Montreal or Washington.