Weekly Roundup: Money, Disputes & Love

Post by Julia

A quick look at some of the things that happened this week in the world of cable cars, urban gondolas, and cable propelled transit:

  • Transport for London confirmed this week that the funding for the London Cable Car from Emirates Air Line will be paid back over a period of 9 years. Having to wait for this £36m after already fronting the £60m construction bill, TfL is in a bit of a bind. They are currently applying for an EU grant.
  • Controversy over the Sea to Sky Gondola in Squamish, British Columbia continues although the Vancouver Observer has found that more people are in favour of the system. The two biggest arguments (against and for the gondola, respectively) are the environmental impact on the area and the potential economic boost for the town.
  • The Hamburg Gondola, initially proposed in February of last year, is reigniting debate this week. One argument is that the system will be entertainment and tourism oriented, and therefore rather expensive to ride.
  • In the meantime, a few hundred kilometers to the south, the city of Koblenz has fallen in love with their temporary cable car, the Rheinseilbahn, and are trying to extend its presence beyond the agreed upon 2013 departure date. A big concern around the system is the World Heritage Status that the surrounding Rhein Valley was able to keep only under the condition that the system would be temporary.
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    1. It's always interesting when it comes to environmental issues come about. It seems people get really polarized. But gondolas can be created even along hillsides with surprisingly little footprint for construction, etc. It adds to the cost, but can be done. So we don't need to "clearcut" forests. Now I do realize that some roads will have to be built to build the foundations and allow for maintenance vehicles, but sometimes towers are installed with the help of helicopters. This is not that uncommon. If towers can be created that are more appealing (yes, this is very subjective) it might mitigate the ugliness, but it certainly will not be purely natural anymore. With regards to Koblenz, I do realize the agreement they had to make in order to have it installed in the first place. But you'd think that a "light footprint" would be the best way to have people visit an area and keep it as minimally transformed as possible. Although World Heritage Status probably would mean they would not like 1-3 million people visiting each summer. Bottom line - I wish we can find a compromise to create more installations and to make them permanent. If we tied them to other transportation systems like buses and rail lines then we'd also not be forced to build a large parking structure... which they're concerned about in Squamish, BC.
    2. The Rheinseilbahn in Koblenz thus joins a long list of temporary structures such as the Eiffel Tower than although intended as transitory rapidly found a way into public affection. World Heritage Status sits uneasily with transport technology in that the latter is constantly developing whereas the former seems to seen as a process frezing an area in aspic. There is a subtle but important difference between conservation and preservation and a sensible balance needs to be struck. My personal preference is that the system should stay - if only to keep the beacon of 3G alight.