Post by Steven Dale
Station 3 (TRT Vericiler Station) of the Yenimahalle Teleferik (Ankara Cable Car) is probably the most controversial of all the stations along the line. The station feels and looks not unlike a maintenance garage. And there’s a reason for that — it is a maintenance garage.
Station 3 was the original end station of the first phase of the Yenimahalle Teleferik. If you recall from the original post in this series, this system was phased in over two separate loops of rope. Station 3 is also, therefore, the start of the second phase and loop.
Best practice dictates that maintenance and storage facilities for gondola vehicles should be located at the end of a loop in areas with plenty of space. Station 3’s location satisfies both those elements. But rather than treat Station 3 as an urban, pedestrian area that happens to include a workshop and parking garage, Station 3 is treated as a parking garage and workshop that happens to include a transit platform.
As a result, this is a noisier station compared to the rest. Both drive stations are located within Station 3 and the noise within the station is considerable. Not dramatically so, but noticeable in comparison to the other three stations on the line. System manufacturer Leitner has minimized the noise by using their new DirectDrive technology but that can only go so far. That’s just the reality of how a drive station works. There’s going to be some noise.
Thankfully, the station has been sited well away from the residential and retail uses within the surrounding area. From outside the station, barely a whisper can be heard. It’s this locational quality of the station that is of real note.
When you really look at Station 3 objectively, you realize that the siting of the station is quite simply brilliant. Tucked into the side of a hill next to a bourgeoning mixed-use entertainment complex and public square, Station 3’s location is wonderful.
While the public square has yet to be finished and occupied, there are already signs of life. Children and families can be seen recreating within and around the complex and it’s only a matter of time before it becomes a central part of the urban fabric. This isn’t to say that the cable car is necessarily causing this street life, but it is to say that these new developments work in symbiosis with the cable car.
The success of one feeds off the other and vice versa.
For example, gondolas exiting Station 3 in a northbound direction, pass over and above a small amphitheater within the complex. The animation of the space the gondolas will cause within the amphitheater during performances will be palpable. The view of the show below will be equally unique. This will be a tiny moment of interaction between transport infrastructure and urban life that will be unparalleled within the world of public transit.
(Some performers, I’m sure, will hate the idea of a moving, floating, glowing gondola potentially upstaging their efforts. But anyone like that probably hates fun as a personal policy and shouldn’t be paid too much attention to. Besides — if you schedule any sort of performance at the Station 3 amphitheater, you know what you’re getting into. And if you don’t, that’s really your own fault.)
Access from street level to platform level is simple but utilitarian to the point of unpleasant. This is the only real complaint I have about the station, but it is a big one — why does the entrance to the station look like the entrance to a recycling storage facility? Yes the station has the same ribbed steel architectural façade, but that gives way quickly to an entranceway that is positively gloomy.
This is such a disappointment. The way the station hugs the street curb and sidewalk is excellent in comparison to Stations 1 and 2 but the entranceway undermines that excellence. The station walls and façade do a fantastic job of shaping and sculpting the urban fabric around the station, but the loading bay doors and wall configuration make the station seem more like a warehouse in surburban New Jersey than an integrated part of a growing metropolis.
That’s partly unfair, I know, and I’ll be the first to admit it.
Deliveries of large machinery and equipment will need to be made at this station on a semi-regular basis. Loading bays and wide doors are an absolute prerequisite from a functionality perspective. Not everything can be functional and beautiful and stay on budget. But perhaps more could have been done to mask those features or at the very least shift them off to one side or the other.
Or at the very least — move the garbage dumpsters away from the entrance. That alone might do the trick.
Further compounding the warehouse aesthetic choice is the need for riders to pass through the gondola storage and maintenance facilities en route to the station platforms. Access to those areas isn’t restricted, except by a series of stanchions which—again—creates an interesting tension between aesthetics and practicality.
Admittedly, there is a certain design appeal at work here.
People love looking at big gadgets at work — and the journey through the storage facility has a living museum quality to it that is incredibly charming. Who wouldn’t want that? It would be like passing through a streetcar maintenance platform on the way to your LRT stop. The idea of “pulling back the curtain” and showing the riders just what exactly the back-of-the-house is up to creates joy and merriment.
But it also creates safety and security issues. Safety, because children can easily gain access to areas next to heavy machinery and dangerous tools; and security because of the potential vandalism people can commit against the vehicles.
The solution to this problem is actually quite simple — replace the stanchions with glass walls. The glass walls wouldn’t even have to go from floor to ceiling; they’d only have to be sizeable enough to move people through the space while preventing them from accessing those secure areas. Airports do it all the time with great success and the costs associated with such walls would probably be less than the settlements and increased insurance premiums that would occur in the event of an unfortunate accident.
So here we are again. Station 3—just as in Stations 1 and 2—gets so many things right but misses a couple of simpler items. The beauty, however, of Station 3 is that none of these problems are unsolvable. Some better lighting, some glass walls and the relocation of a few trash cans would do an enormous amount to improve the overall aesthetic of the station.
Ironically, the practical needs of the station wind up creating some very strong aesthetic choices such as the seam it creates with the urban fabric and the surrounding landforms. Unfortunately, those strong choices are undercut by a lack of practical considerations regarding safety and security.
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