Aerial Rapid Transit (ART)?

Post by Steven Dale

The other day in the comments, Sean suggested using the term “Aerial Rapid Transit” to describe urban gondola transit technology.

Good idea.

It’s not the first time I’ve heard the term and I know of at least two different proposals floating around that are using it. I’m a fan because it makes logical sense.

While the term “Cable Propelled Transit” is common in engineering literature and very useful for grouping the entirety of cable transit solutions, it is quite poor at distinguishing between aerial and terrestrial systems.

As such, I suggest we subdivide Cable Propelled Transit into two sub-groups, one for aerial solutions and one for terrestrial solutions. Those two sub-groups can then be further sub-divided into detachable and fixed grip technologies:

A potential hierarchy for Cable Propelled Transit?

The only question is this: If we know that aerial systems will henceforth be known as Aerial Rapid Transit (ART) systems, what are we going to call the family of terrestrial systems?


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  1. A good idea. I've been thinking for a while that CPT isn't the best name for general public use. After all, a trollybus is a bus, not "Electrically propelled transit". For the passenger it's much more important what sort of vehicle it is then what powers it. When I first came here the combination of terrestrial and aerial systems was very confusing. "Aerial Rapid Transit" is simple and descriptive with a nice ring to it. As for what to call the terrestrial systems, "Cable Cars" would be very nice if we could stop people using the term for gondolas and aerial trams.
  2. I was thinking Cable Cars as well, like the ones in San Francisco ... but maybe a new term is needed. just off the top of my head: cable tram cable train rope train 1s2r - dual rail cable transit r2d2 - dual rail dual detachable grip LRcT - light rapid cable transit LrRrCT - lighter rapid(er) cable transit
  3. The abbreviation ART might cause confusion as it stands for Advanced Rapid Transit by Bombardier. e.g Vancouver Skytrain, JFK Airtrain, Kuala Lumpur PUTRA LRT and others. Also in ART it doesn't exclude self powered vehicles so some other systems like the Aerobus or some Monorails would also fall into the Aerial Rapid Transit category. The cable suspended system are also not very Rapid so a name like Aerial Cable Transit (ACT) would be more appropriate. On the other side we would have Supported Cable Transit (SCT) or Rail Cable Transit.
  4. @Matthias the term goes back to at least 1917 (bit.ly/emDuDf) and is was used in 1984 for the Mississippi Aerial Rapid Transit (bit.ly/fGbv9M)
  5. ART has too many pre-existing connotations, especially the fact that it's already a common English word. In the internet age that makes it even more of a problem. Let's stay away from the word Art in this context. Rose uses the acronym r2d2 in her suggestion which already has a strong association with robots. I'm thinking on the comment Erik made above: "For the passenger it’s much more important what sort of vehicle it is then what powers it." He's absolutely right. They just need a word for a "handle" that is catchy. And as the auto and motorcycle industries have shown, it sure helps when the name sounds fast, sexy. Think GT, GSXR, TT, Swift, Lancia, etc. Therefore I propose the name G-T-X (Gondola-Tram crossover) when it comes to products like a 3S or Funitel. I'm sorry but with all due respect the names currently used in the industry are just geeky-sounding, right along with CPT. As for the lowly gondola, G-T-G would be sufficient as it could stand for Good To Go! For the geeks among us it has the dual meaning of Gare to Gare (the French word), as in Station to Station.
  6. GTX could also stand for Gondola Transit eXpress GTG = Gondolas to Go
  7. r2d2? c'mon, can't a transit geek take a joke? But, seriously, put aside the geek vs techy debate. The etymology of the words for other transit forms, namely the car, the train and the bus are all believed to be latin (and/or another ancient word-deriving dead language). More recently we have things such as LRT, which is clearly just as geeky as CPT, ART, PRT, BRT, etc. But if we look closely, we see that T, yes 'transit' is also latin. So why go the way of making more silly acronyms or adding "cool" aka super-geeky letters such as X and not go with some similar, all around popular nomenclature? Let me just throw out some less-than-one-minute-google-finds: Rope in latin = funis -is, funis (clearly how we got to funifor and funitel) cable = Middle English: from an Anglo-Norman French variant of Old French chable, from late Latin capulum 'halter' ok, so didn't find much in under a minute, but you see where i'm going here if it is in terms of vehicle - cabin or pod derivatives might work for aerial gondolas, cable train for bottom
  8. I feel it should also be said that for the most part the manufacturers of these technologies do not use the word cable very much (in English anyway...it is more common in French). Instead they use "rope" and build "ropeways" or "aerial ropeways" as a broad description of their projects. It is true that they do use the term cable when talking about terrestrial systems like the DCC www.dcc.at And since they build these things...they really get to name them whatever they want for better or for worse...they're heavy on engineering and historical precedents and light on marketing. Also, since the world headquarters for these manufacturers are in Europe, Anglophones are left translating and adopting rather than suggesting...take for instance "Seil" meaning rope in German and hence 3S or 3-Seil systems. Which you may or may not like but in the right lighting over a nice bottle of wine if you listen to an Austrian tell you about a her next Dreiseil Projekt it can sound sexy enough :) ...for a geek anyway. If we do get lucky enough to suggest a new name or category I think @Rose may be on the right track in sticking with Latin.
  9. @BC quite clearly you are right in saying that the naming rights really remain with the makers, who indeed are engineering heavy and marketing light. I'm glad that Doppelmayr had the foresight to name DCC after the original term coined for the terrestrial technology, as in San Francisco, etc. It just makes sense. It's also great that it's catching on as it is a superlative short-haul shuttle technology. @Rose, thanks for the philology ;-) But isn't English kinda the new Latin? As for the Aerial Ropeway, well, I don't think the alphabet soup of names for the different derivatives is doing it any justice. It holds major promise for reducing urban congestion, particularly in hillside applications. It is hindered slightly by a perception gap that isn't helped by unclear naming. Personally, I sincerely hope the SFU-Burnaby 3S installation in Greater Vancouver goes forward. It will be an excellent example of CPT integrated with existing transit with the added facet of being a tourist draw in it's own right. But what will it be called? :-)