22
Aug

2012

The Santorini Cable Car (Teleferik)

Post by Steven Dale

The Santorini Cable Car. Image by flickr user StillHazy.

The way we define what public transit is tends to be rigid and exclusive. We tend to think of public transit as a public enterprise of many different transit lines (of any given modality) criss-crossing a large city.

But then along comes something like the Santorini Cable Car to make one question that assumption.

Shown above, the system is a two-station Pulsed gondola system that shuttles 1,200 pphpd between the Greek island of Santorini’s port and its capital of Fira 200 meters above. Almost comically, Fira’s population is a scant 1,500 people, meaning the Santorini Cable Car could transport every single citizen in Fira in just over an hour’s time.

Further reducing the system’s perceived status as public transit, fares are not inexpensive either. A one-way trip costs €4.00 – and luggage costs €2.00 extra.

In summary, the Santorini Cable Car – donated to the island by the Loula and Evangelos Nomikos Foundation in 1979 – wouldn’t be considered public transportation by most standard definitions. But that wouldn’t be entirely fair.

Getting to Santorini requires one of two choices: Ferry or airplane. For those opting for ferries (which is the majority), getting from Fira to the port requires either the cable car or a traversing a road (by bus, foot or donkey) far more terrifying than any gondola trip:

The cable car route in blue runs adjacent to the precarious road connection between Fira and Santorini's port.

Most opt for the cable car, which (from what I understand) can result in long queues during high season should multiple ferries arrive or depart the port at the same time.

The Santorini Cable Car may not be the most traditional form of public transportation we’ve ever encountered, but it’s a vital link nonetheless for both tourists and locals alike.

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Comments

  1. Any stats on how many tourists are taking this every day? The views must be fantastic from inside the gondolas!
  2. We don't actually. We totally just stumbled into this one. My guess is that ridership is roughly equal to the number of people arriving by cruise ship. From what I've found online, queues can be a significant problem - probably due to the limited capacity of the pulsed system.