29
Mar

2016

Zurich Exploring Urban Cable Cars

Post by Gondola Project

As one of the countries with the highest per capita use of ropeways, one would expect gondola lines to be zipping commuters left, right and centre in Switzerland. However, that is strangely not the case as cable cars have remained mostly rural and recreational in nature.

Proposed gondolas in Zurich. Image from New Journal of Zurich.

Proposed gondola systems in Zurich. Image from New Journal of Zurich.

Nevertheless, things may soon change as recent reports indicate that Zurich is now finally catching on to the Cable Propelled Transit (CPT) movement. It appears that the Free Democratic Party (FDP), which represents two seats on City Council, has put forward 3-4 proposals for study and exploration.

The alignments connect to a variety of major attractions and nodes throughout the city, including Tiefenbrunnen Railway Station, ETH Honggerberg, Alstetten Railway Station, the Zoo, Balgrist University Hospital, and several urban districts.

Gondola crossing Lake Zurich via two 55m tall towers during Swiss Horticultural Festival in 1959.

Gondola crossing Lake Zurich via two 55m tall towers during Swiss Horticultural Festival in 1959. Image by ETH-Bibliothek Zürich, Bildarchiv/Comet Photo AG (Zürich).

While these proposals may look new, it seems that one of the alignments (Wollishofen to Tiefenbrunnen) is merely a replay of old gondola systems that were previously operating in the city. Namely, the Swiss National Exhibition/”Landi-Bähnlis” gondola (1939) and the Horticultural Festival gondola (1959-1966) which took passengers on an aerial journey across Lake Zurich.

The 1939 gondola was an immense success, transporting 705,000 passengers during the 6-month exhibition via two 75m high towers! The system was unfortunately dismantled as its materials were required for national defence (i.e. WWII was coming).

Another view of the two 55m tall towers. Image by Johannes Schweizer, Klaus und Walter Leder - Grün Stadt Zürich.

Another view of the two 55m tall towers. Image by Johannes Schweizer, Klaus und Walter Leder – Grün Stadt Zürich.

Strangely enough, despite being a highly energy efficient mode of transport, a Green Party member actually rejected the proposals citing the negative impacts a cable car would have on the landscape. It’s somewhat bizarre but I suppose this is more politicking than anything else.

Overall, while proponents realize there are many more obstacles ahead before a system can be implemented, the Federal Council and the Commissioner have both supported the further exploration of these projects.

If online opinion polls are to be trusted — an overwhelming 82.3% (of 1891) voted in favour of the proposals — urban cable car(s) may soon, one day return to Switzerland’s most populous city.



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