I was wrong

Sometimes in the rush to get posts out on a consistent basis, mistakes get made. For example, last week when I stated that there was only one small school in Europe that offered an education in the art and science of ropeways.

That statement was made based on numerous conversations I’d had with people in the ropeway industry, all of whom assured me that there was only one school.

Apparently, however, that isn’t exactly true. As the readers of The Gondola Project let me know, there are a handful of schools around the world that do offer some schooling in the subject matter, including for example the University of Science and Technology in Krakow, Poland.

Not many mind you, but certainly not only one.

So please accept my apologies. I shouldn’t have taken at face value what a few people said without backing up my statements with my own independent research.

The curse of the internet and things like a blog is the need to pump out content at a never-ending, voracious pace, sometimes at the expense of accuracy.

The flipside of that, however, is that when you do get something completely wrong – as I did last week – there are no shortage of people willing to point that out to you.

Thanks to all the Gondola Project readers who did so politely, positively and as a show of support rather than out of one-upmanship.



Wanna Learn About Cable Cars?

One question I’m repeatedly asked is some variation on this:

Why is it so hard to learn about cable and meet people within the cable transit industry? How does one even start in the industry? 

Want a simple (albeit overly so) answer to the question?

Consider this:

There is no known university or college in the world that provides a specialized education in ropeway technology. Not one. There isn’t a place young people can, for example, major in English Literature and minor in Mechanical Ropeway Engineering. You want to learn ropeways, you basically start right out of high school or college, apprentice with a company and – as is typical for the industry – you stay in the industry for life.

At best, I’ve heard rumours that there exists a small technical school in Europe that now offers a course or two on ropeway engineering, but that’s about it.

The industry is incredibly close-knitted and that’s one of its beauties. But it’s close-knitted to a point where it’s becoming problematic for any of their attempts to move outside the ski lift market.

After all, an industry that doesn’t interact with the outside world cannot expect the outside world to interact with them.



Tower Removals

Ever wonder how towers are removed when an old cable system is dissembled? Well Vail Resorts released a video documenting the entire process which showcases the precision helicopter work that was required. Check it out!



Vukan Vuchic & Cable Transit

Professor Vukan R. Vuchic quite literally wrote the textbook(s) on public transportation planning.

His exhaustive textbook trilogy Urban Transit are essentially the only academic textbook in existence on the complexities of public transportation.

So what does Vuchic think about cable transit? Not much.

Out of a total of 600 pages in Urban Transit: Systems and Technology a total of nine pages are devoted to cable hauled systems – most of which are pictures.

Of those nine pages, ground-based cable cars and funiculars dominate the conversation. Gondolas are non-existent and aerial tramways are given these cursory few paragraphs:

“Suspended passenger cabins pulled by a closed-loop cable can also be used to overcome steep gradients or, most commonly, deep valleys, ravines, or bodies of water. These systems are used extensively in mountainous regions (the Alps, the Rockies), but in some cases they are used in the immediate vicinity of cities (Atlanta – Stone Mountain, Rio de Janeiro, Innsbruck (Austria), Caracas – Avila) or as shuttle transit lines within cities (Portland was building one in 2006).

The best-known aerial tramway with the largest cabins used as an urban transit line is the Roosevelt Island-Manhattan Line in New York City, opened in 1976. This line, providing the fastests and most convenient connection between the island and Manhattan over the navigable East River, was a part of the entire planning concept for the design of the island as an integrated, nearly vehicle-free environment . . .

With respect to line characteristics – length, stations, headway/cycle time relationship, and line capacity – aerial tramways have the same features and limitations as the funiculars.”

That’s it.

Now granted aerial cable systems weren’t spreading around the world nearly as rapidly in 2007 – the year of this book’s publishing – as they are now, but seriously?

Firstly, the Avila system in Caracas isn’t an Aerial Tram. It’s an MDG gondola. There’s a massive difference between the two and a transit educator who spends 100’s of pages dissecting every single minutia about public transit probably should have recognized that.

Secondly, if Vuchic was aware of Caracas, it would be hard for him not to be aware of Medellin – which opened its first urban gondola system in 2004.

Am I calling shenanigans? Hardly. One has to forgive Dr. Vuchic for the simple reason that one doesn’t know what one doesn’t know.

But what I will say is this:

Perhaps it’s time for a new edition?

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