Education

20
Jul

2017

Small Swiss Ropeways Threatened


To many visitors and locals, aerial ropeways are considered an integral part of Switzerland’s cultural identity. Since the country’s first cable driven system was built in 1866, Switzerland has designed some of the world’s most unique and spectacular cable systems.

Today, despite having just a population of just 8.3 million, more than 1,700 ropeways are currently operational!

Unfortunately, the existence of about 200 of these systems (or 12%) of the nation’s cable cars are now under threat due to a new cable car law that was passed in 2007. These 200 ropeways are small systems that allow tourists to experience the country’s alpine culture and mountains while providing farmers a vital transport link.

The new laws are designed to harmonize regulations across all lift operations (regardless of company size) to ensure greater safety and conformity to EU standards. However many small systems, which only charge a few francs per ride to low volumes of passengers, do not have the financial resources necessary to implement the costly upgrades.

For some small lifts, it is estimated that approximately 1 million francs (US$1 million) are necessary to obtain new permits.

Small ropeway companies argue that the new regulations are too stringent. As such, many are now banding together to lobby the government. Image from Luzernerzeitung.

The federal government contends that they cannot make exceptions until politicians and lawmakers make the necessary changes in parliament.

Luckily, efforts through workshops and lobbyist groups are already underway to ensure that these systems remain an intact for future generations to come. In the meantime, inspectors stress that passengers need not worry about the overall safety of these small ropeways. In fact, statistics demonstrate that Swiss ropeways are the country’s safest mode of transport!



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12
Mar

2017

Reaction: Cable Cars Are Changing the World

Image by Darren Garrett.

Image by Darren Garrett.

It’s no secret that with the rise of the 24-hour news cycle and the collapse of advertising revenues, journalistic standards and intellectual rigour have been on the decline across the publishing spectrum.

As such, when journalist Duncan Geere of How We Get to Next requested an interview of me on the subject of urban cable cars, I presumed it would be nothing more than a 300-word puff piece on the subject written in the time it to takes to write . . . well, a 300-word puff piece.

It was much to my surprise, then, that Greene’s piece “Cable Cars Are Changing The World” is nothing of the sort.

It is an exhaustive, engaging and otherwise top-notch article on the subject of Cable Propelled Transit (CPT) and how they are rapidly being deployed throughout the world. For anyone new to the subject matter, I’d suggest starting with Greene’s article. It is comprehensive with a view into the history of the technology that few reporters bother to delve into.

He even takes the time to highlight one of the central complexities of the technology — nomenclature. Green perfectly encapsulates one of our industry’s constant problems:

“Researching the topic can be difficult, primarily because there are seemingly hundreds of different ways to refer to slight variations on the same basic principle. Spend 10 minutes looking into the subject and you’ll find people talking about gondolas, aerial tramways, ropeways, cableways, téléphériques, funiculars, funitels, inclined lifts, and many more.” 

As I read the article, there were at least a handful of moments I had to pause and think to myself “wow, I didn’t know that.”

If you’re new to the subject of urban cable cars, read this article. And if you’re an industry veteran who thinks postures to know everything there is to know about the topic — read this article. I can assure you there are things in there that will surprise and delight you.



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Education / History / Media & Blogs / Research & Development / Thoughts
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07
Jun

2016

This is How You Install a 50-ton Cable

Gore Mountain installs a new cable for the Northwoods Gondola

If you are curious about the process of changing a 50-ton gondola cable, check this out! We’re always working hard to make your mountain even better.

Posted by Gore Mountain on Monday, June 6, 2016



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Education
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12
Aug

2014

Improving Transit Culture – Cultivating A Sense of Ownership and Pride

Post by Mauricio Miranda. 

For years, we have witnessed the rise of cable car technology as a game changer in the realm of urban transportation. And in some cities, certain transit agencies are now aiming to create a more personal connection between the gondola networks they’ve built and the people they serve.

In Medellin and La Paz, in particular, transit culture has never been so highly regarded. If you ask any local about their thoughts towards their transit system, you will immediately sense their pride — it’s as though they considered the transit system to be their very own, similar to the way one might feel about their own soccer team or personal vehicle.

fkljsda. Image from hoybolivia.com

Image from hoybolivia.com

Bolivian cable car provider “Mi Teleferico” (loosely translated as “my gondola” or “my cable car”) is trying to create and promote a sense of ownership by addressing one of the most difficult challenges that the vast majority of young adults face: acquiring your first formal job.

In many developing nations (and sometimes even in developed ones), paid part-time employment in a recognized organization is something that not every university student has access to, and can be easily considered a luxury. Now, in La Paz, university students have the opportunity to work in the transit industry through a program called “Trabajo Con Altura de Mi Teleferico” which translates to “My Cable Car’s High Standard Jobs.”

In order to allow as many as possible to experience this program, the ‘internship’ is only allowed to be taken once by the top students in La Paz’s universities. The purpose of this initiative is to not only instil in students the importance of service-oriented values but it is also to introduce them to the new challenges found in Bolivia’s transportation sector.

Overall, this program has three main strategic objectives in mind:

  • To provide the best service possible to citizens and visitors
  • To promote the cable car culture and a sense of ownership
  • To consolidate the state-owned cable transportation company Mi Teleferico
Image from miteleferico.bo

Image from miteleferico.bo

However, La Paz isn’t the only city to develop of this sort of transit-oriented social program. The Metro Medellin (which manages the Colombian city’s HRT, BRT, LRT and CPT) was the first public transportation company in Latin America to implement the idea of including students aged 18–25 years old in their operations staff.

All the train lines of the Metro Medellin are exclusively driven by more than 250 students that spend half of their time in a post-secondary school, and the rest of the day driving high technology trains (a job that also provides a paycheque to fund their higher-education studies).

The drivers are chosen from a rigorous screening process due to the high importance profile that the job demands — after all, they are responsible for thousands of lives on a daily basis. Medellin’s cable-car system, Metrocable, uses a similar staff structure, as all of their customer-service related activities are carried out by students from across the city.

Image from blogs.unaula.edu.co/.

Image from blogs.unaula.edu.co/.

While it’s impressive to see how Metro Medellin has transformed the lives of students who would otherwise struggle financially to complete their professional endeavours, there’s a further upside to the student employment program: strengthening the connection between the community and the transit service that has transformed Medellin.

Creating a sense of ownership in this industry is not easy. Firstly , you need a system that does the job efficiently. Then— and this is where it gets complicated — you need a service that delivers its users benefits beyond their private agendas.

Transit agencies must strive towards providing programs and services that address and respect the needs of the people it serves. Once you do that, a system can begin to close the gap between the provider and user, and help foster the notion that, for the riders, the system truly is there own.



Want more? Purchase Cable Car Confidential: The Essential Guide to Cable Cars, Urban Gondolas & Cable Propelled Transit and start learning about the world's fastest growing transportation technologies.

28
Nov

2013

Google Transit View: Rail, Subway, Airports and… Cable Cars!

We briefly interrupt our scheduled Photo of the Week with an exciting new development from Google.

Starting today, the search engine will let users preview dozens of major global transit locations worldwide with their newest Street View function. This includes 16 airports, 50+ train stations and get this, even the Ngong Ping 360 and Peak Tram in Hong Kong!

Ngong Ping 360 Transit View: Click Here or Image

Ngong Ping 360 Preview

Ngong Ping 360 Preview. Screenshot from Google.

Peak Tram Transit View: Click Here or Image

Peak Tram Preview

Peak Tram Preview. Screenshot from Google.

Map of all the covered locations:


Without having said, this option will surely help visitors navigate tourists hotspots before making their trip.

But more importantly (at least from a transit planning perspective), is that this function gives practitioners and the general public an entirely new tool to understand the integration, layout, and design of various transport facilities.

As you make your way through the system, you can literally see and experience almost anything or everything at the same time — right down the nitty-gritty details of how much snacks cost or how line queues can be designed.

The fact that two cable systems were included alongside other major transit locations is perhaps a sign of another trend — that is, urban cable systems are finally getting the recognition they deserve.

While not all urban CPT lines are fully integrated into their public transit network, they are undoubtedly vital pieces of transport infrastructure for both tourists and locals alike.

I’m not sure about you guys and maybe I’m dreaming a little, but I certainly can’t wait until the day Google maps out each and every cable car system.



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30
Oct

2013

Old School Fare Infographic: Singapore Cable Car

The Singapore Cable Car is quite the urban gondola and is known for being a pioneer in many regards. To name a few: it was the first to cross a major harbour, the first to have a glass bottom floor cabin and was the first to have an aerial sky dining experience.

Singapore Cable Car. Image by Nicholas Chu.

Singapore Cable Car. Image by Nicholas Chu.

And because it is a tourist system that caters to different types of visitors who wish to travel to different destinations (Mount Faber, Harbourfront Tower 2 and Sentosa), it probably has one of the most complex, yet clever cable car fare structures in the world.

A quick look at the system’s website immediately reveals that a passenger can choose almost anything they want: from a basic lift ticket to packaged deals which include other rides and attractions on Sentosa.

All of this can be rather confusing so to make things easier to understand, once a upon a time, the operators actually designed a simple yet elegant infographic to explain the many ways you can ride the system.

A blast from the past – a roundtrip for only $6.50! Image from www.virtualtourist.com

If you haven’t noticed already the prices shown are, unfortunately, outdated. I have no specific dates from when this picture was taken but my best guess is that it’s from the 90s.

Nonetheless, the illustration still offers a great lesson for any future cable car systems, particularly those who wish to make trips more easily understandable while providing passengers with the options that best suits their needs.

 



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19
Aug

2013

Marginal Station vs. Marginal Length Cost

(Note: It’s been a while since I’ve posted on The Gondola Project. It’s been a busy summer with lots of changes to our company and our site. We’ll let you all know about the details in the coming months, but in the meantime, I’d like to extend a big thanks to Nick and Charlotte for holding down the fort while I’ve been awol.)

One of the problems the cable industry faces (like most transit industries), is prospective customers who fear nuance. Prospects often don’t care about the complexity of a system, they simply want to know how much it costs “per kilometre” (or “per mile” for our American friends).

Here’s the problem: It is virtually impossible to provide a per kilometre cost for a cable transit system. In fact, it’s virtually impossible to provide a per kilometre cost for any transit system, period. It’s kind of like that old idiom—how long is a piece of string?

No where does this become more obvious than with the relationship between the length of a cable transit line and  the number of stations within a cable transit line.

Let’s assume, for example, a given 1 kilometre long cable transit system that has two stations and costs $8mm. Let’s call it Line A.

Now let’s assume a second cable transit system. This one is the same length of Line A (1 kilometre) but has a total of three stations rather than two with all else equal. Let’s call this system Line B.

Now, let’s assume a final third cable transit system. This one has only two stations but is double the length of Line A—it’s 2 kilometres long with all else equal. Let’s call this system Line C.

Okay? Got it? No? Let’s review then:

  • Line A: 1 km, 2 stations.
  • Line B: 1 km, 3 stations.
  • Line C: 2 km, 2 stations.

Which line is more expensive? Line B or Line C?

People who imagine the problem as a question of cost-per-kilometre will invariably say Line C is more expensive than Line B because Line C  is double the length of Line B.

Problem is, they’d be completely, 100% wrong.

In cable, the marginal cost of stations is almost always more expensive than the marginal cost of length.

People considering a cable transit system of their own need to understand that. Per-kilometre costs estimates are blunt tools that don’t tell you what you really want to know—and they often lead to early-stage financial estimates that tell a completely false story.

 



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