Post by Nick Chu
If you happen to live in Toronto, Canada, you’ve probably heard on the news or from friends/family that the CNE or “The Ex” opened its doors last Friday. For those not from Toronto, The Ex is an annual fair that runs during the last weeks of August until Canadian Labour Day Monday. It’s the country’s largest exhibition and 7th largest in North America with a yearly attendance of 1.3 million visitors.
This year the CNE travelled back into time and brought back a similar ride from the 90s. Dubbed as the fair’s “spectacular new permanent attraction”, Skyride is an amusement park chairlift which takes you from one end of the exhibition to the other. The Ex was previously home to another aerial lift, known as the Alpine Way Gondola but that system was dismantled in 1994 (after 28 years in service) to make way for the Direct Energy Centre.
So on opening day, I decided to venture into The Ex to experience what this new ride had to offer.
After lining up for about 10 minutes, I was finally able to hop on the 2-seater lift. Once onboard, the ride gently whisks passengers above and across the exhibition grounds at a height of 40 feet.
So after a breezy but refreshing 8 minute ride, I was dropped off near BMO field. Overall, the trip was fun while it lasted and with a one-way ticket cost of only $5 dollars, it’s certainly well worth the price considering that boneheads like me typically waste a minimum of $50 on carnival games alone.
However, as mentioned by commenter’s on the Toronto Star, some consider the Skyride as a rather half-hearted and disappointing attempt at bringing back an aerial lift to the CNE. Comparatively speaking, the Alpine Way Gondola was 700m long operating at a height of 100 feet while the Skyride is only 500m long operating at a height of 40 feet.
On the bright side, the Skyride is certainly a welcome addition to the myriad of midway rides at the CNE. However, from a pure public transit perspective, the optics and size of the system may further perpetuate and reinforce that cable is only suitable for carnival purposes. And who can blame them? This chairlift is really the only exposure that Torontonians ever get of cable technology.
If one day The Ex somehow regains its former glorious status as the preeminent venue to display the world’s newest innovations, CNE organizers may even convince and partner with a ropeway manufacturer to showcase the recent technological improvements made by cable systems. One can only dream what a demonstration 3S system would do for a city like Toronto.
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