Installations

17
Oct

2018

La Paz Breaks Ridership Record With 318,500 Passengers

Image by Mi Teleferico.

A new milestone was set last week when La Paz’s urban gondola network, Mi Teleférico, reached 318,532 passengers in a single day.

Regardless of what you might think of Cable Propelled Transit (CPT), these numbers are nothing short of impressive. To put it into perspective, just four years ago, this rugged Bolivian city had zero fixed-link transit lines. But today, it has proven that it can transport the same amount of daily riders, if not more, than the average North American light rail system. As we speak, an average of 250,000 riders per day ride eight urban gondola lines spanning 27.2km (16.9mi).

In fact, just this week, the newly minted Purple Line (opened September 28) reached a million riders in just 20 days — averaging 50,000 passengers per day.

A quick comparative analysis reveals just how much praise La Paz should receive. Based on the numbers from Wikipedia, only three North American “LRT” systems have more passengers per day on average than La Paz — all of which are located outside the US. In other words, there are zero American light rail lines that carry more riders than La Paz. The closest system is the Metro Rail in Los Angeles with 219,900 passengers per day.

On a passengers per mile basis, La Paz shines equally as bright. Except for Guadalajara’s light rail, no LRT system comes close to La Paz. Compared to US light rail lines, Mi Teleférico has 70% more passengers per mile on an average than Boston’s MBTA.

For die-hard critics of the technology, such robust figures makes it harder and harder to claim that ropeway systems are incapable of being “real” public transit. In fact, if Mi Teleférico’s daily rider record was compared to major North American rapid transit lines, like the Chicago L, the BART, and the Skytrain, it would be North America’s 12th busiest rapid transit line — outpacing major transit systems such as SEPTA (Philadelphia), PATH (NY/NJ), and MARTA (Atlanta).

Perhaps the most incredible thing is that the system is not fully complete. Another 5.5km (3.4mi) of urban ropeways are scheduled to open within the next two years which means that more new records will be set.



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Mi Teleférico
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12
Oct

2018

La Paz Cable Cars Named World’s Most Spectacular Public Transit System

The Yellow Line was one of the first three cable cars to open in 2014. Image by Dan Lundberg.

Mi Teleférico, the world’s largest network of urban gondolas, is continuing to capture the public’s imagination. This week one of the UK’s top newspapers, the Daily Telegraph, described La Paz’s ropeway system as the world’s spectacular transit system.

With eight lines now operating throughout the city, the 27.2km network is estimated to transport over 250,000 passengers per day — that’s 30,000 more riders than America’s busiest LRT system, the Metro Rail in Los Angeles.

The Telegraph’s correspondent, Chris Moss, gave readers a fascinating first-hand account of how the cable cars have transformed the way locals travel in the city. He notes that the three cable cars connecting to the historically marginalized city of El Alto has promoted greater integration between the two communities. In effect, some residents have become tourists in their own cities, venturing into areas that were once deemed too dangerous and/or too remote.

The Red Line was La Paz’s first urban ropeway and was the first to link to El Alto. Image by David Almeida.

Irpawi Station (pictured above) is the Green Line’s eastern terminus. It will be connected to the upcoming Gold Line by 2020. Image by EEJCC.

While Moss floated above La Paz at 18km/h, he amusingly described how he felt like a godly being, watching down on the poor souls stuck in the city’s narrow and congested roadways.

Thanks to the incredible success of the system, transportation specialists are flocking to the city to learn about how urban gondola technology could transform their rapid transit network. System operators even interviewed a traffic engineer last week from Zimbabwe who gave the system a rave review.

The potential to use cost-effective and quick-to-build urban ropeways in developing African cities is a massive opportunity that’s still untapped.

Smart Dumba, traffic engineer from Zimbabwe, tours the cable car system. Image from Mi Teleferico.

In addition, delegates from Germany, including the Federal Minister for Transport, Building and Urban Development (Wolfgang Tiefensee) arrived in La Paz last week to personally witness the urban gondolas. This may be a sign of things to come in Western Europe as many cities are now actively exploring the feasibility of building urban cable cars.

Next year will be another momentous one for Mi Teleférico as two more cable car lines, the Brown Line and the Silver Line, are scheduled to open. The massive construction project will culminate with the opening of the Gold Line in 2020.



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Mi Teleférico
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29
Sep

2018

La Paz Officially Opens 8th Urban Gondola — The Purple Line

Purple Line spans 4.3km and connects El Alto and La Paz. Image from Mi Teleferico.

Thousands of people in La Paz and El Alto lined the streets on September 28 to celebrate the official opening of the Purple Line (Spanish: Linea Morada). After system construction began back in February 2016, the highly anticipated urban gondola is now finally ready. The cable car’s inauguration marks the city’s 8th urban ropeway and is considered one of the network’s most important lines for a number of reasons.

Firstly, it represents a sizeable technological upgrade because the Purple Line operates at higher speeds (6m/s) and capacities (4,000 pphpd) than most of the existing lines (e.g. Red Line, Green Line, Yellow Line, Blue Line, Orange Line and White Line). Improved performance capabilities will lead to faster travel times and therefore, hopefully lower wait times during peak travel times.



Secondly, the Purple Line represents the commitment that the government has made modernizing its public transit network, reducing traffic congestion and sparking economic development. Since the system’s western terminus, 6 de Marzo, is located immediately next to the international airport, it will provide users with a direct rapid transit connection to the city center.

Socially, the entire Mi Teleférico network has transformed the way people travel throughout the city. For instance, the cable cars have been instrumental to improving mobility for the less fortunate as 80% of its riders earn less than US$300 per month (Bs2000). In addition, its preferential card provides mobility-impaired riders with a 50% discount on all travel.

Image by Mi Teleferico.

Lastly but most importantly, the Purple Line represents a symbolic and physical unification of El Alto and La Paz — a metropolitan region of almost two million inhabitants. Historically and to this day, El Alto is a poor, and rapidly growing area that is considered the most populous indigenous city in the Americas. As it sits 4000m above sea level and overlooks La Paz, residents of El Alto have had to face long commutes into La Paz for work.

But thanks to the Purple Line, travel times from El Alto into La Paz will only be 8 to 16 minutes (depending on which station a passenger finally disembarks from). One of the strange quirks about the Purple Line is that the line is designed and operated into two separate sections. In other words, unlike the other gondola lines with a mid-station where riders can remain in their cabins to continue to journey to the next station, Purple Line riders must unload from one section of the gondola line at the Faro Marillo mid-station before transferring to the other section at the same mid-station.



In any event, Mi Teleferico staff does not believe this minor inconvenience will have any effects on ridership as the Purple Line is expected to the network’s busiest line with more than 80,000 estimated daily passengers. This is approximately 2 to 4 times the ridership amongst existing urban gondola lines in La Paz — and compared other North American transit lines, the Purple Line may have a higher passengers per mile ranking (30,000 passengers per mile) than any LRT in Canada and America.




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Mi Teleférico
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05
Sep

2018

La Paz’s 8th Urban Gondola, The Purple Line, Receives Its First Passenger

Purple Line. Image by Mi Teleférico.

In a span of just five years, La Paz has built over 27km (16.2mi) of rapid transit. That’s faster or nearly the same amount of time it takes to complete infrastructure review processes in some North American jurisdictions.

The new Purple Line (Spanish: Línea Morada) which saw its first passenger on Thursday last week marks the third line that directly connects El Alto and La Paz (after the Yellow Line and Red Line) and the second “next-generation” gondola in the Bolivian city (after the Sky Blue Line).

This means that unlike some of the previous cable cars (e.g. Red, Green, Yellow, Blue, Orange and White), the new 4.3km urban cable car has upgraded performance abilities with capacities reaching 4,000 passengers per hour per direction (pphpd) and speeds of 6m/s.

Comparatively speaking, most of the older systems operate with capacities of a thousand persons less and speeds of 1m/s less than the Purple Line.

President Morales once again became the first passenger to board the Purple Line. Image by Cesar Dockweiler.

Purple Line. Image by ATB.

The speed of implementation is mind-boggling at times as some readers might remember that the Sky Blue Line (Spanish: Línea Celeste) was inaugurated less than 30 days ago. For planners who work in North America, it can be hard to imagine how a city can construct so many new rapid transit lines in such short period of time.

Without a doubt, this is a testament to the professionalism of both local decision-makers and the ropeway manufacturer, Doppelmayr, to consistently meet their deadlines and commitments.

Master plan for all 11 urban gondola lines. Image from Mi Teleferico.

With the Purple Line, residents can travel the entire stretch system in just eight minutes. However, the system will be somewhat of an “orphaned” line for about half a year until it the Silver Line (Spanish: Línea Plateada) is opened sometime in Spring 2019. Once that happens, it will significantly enhance connectivity and allow Purple Line passengers to transfer to the rest of the network via the Blue Line, Red Line, and the Yellow Line.

Readers should note that while President Morales has ridden the cable car, the system will not be officially inaugurated for commercial operations until September 26. During his speech, the President promised to construct even more cable car lines to continue improving the lives of its residents.

It’s not clear what that means at this time, but the entire planned network (Spanish: Red de Integracion Metropolitana) is now over 80% and less than 6km (3.7mi) of cable cars are left.





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30
Aug

2018

Pod Cabins Now Seen in Moscow!

Space pod cabins. Screenshot from MReporter.

About three weeks ago, a few “portal towers” were spotted in Moscow’s VDNKh amusement park. Today, it appears that a number of futuristic “space pod” cabins have now been mounted on the park’s ropeway as it prepares for testing and commissioning this Fall.

We’re not sure where the designers got their inspiration from, but the spherical cabins reminded us of the rotund BB-8 droid from Star Wars or perhaps even the helmet of a cosmonaut.

Cabins mounted to station. The system is being constructed by Doppelmayr. Screenshot from MReporter.

Pod cabins will help transport the estimated 2 million visitors to VDNKh park. Screenshot from MReporter.

From our experiences, an increasing number of cities and their decision-makers are becoming more demanding when it comes to unique ropeway designs. While standardized, off-the-shelf cable car components reduce implementation costs and time, some projects in aesthetically sensitive areas will inevitably require customized designs.

For instance to highlight the importance of form, Portland’s City Commissioner was once quoted as saying that the Portland Aerial Tram did not consider standard parts since it would result in “a cheap ski lift at a bad ski resort” — which in turn, would leave the City with “an ugly postcard” lasting a hundred years.

UFO style “space” cabin were already in existence Post-WII as it was built by Carlevaro-Savio out of  Turin, Italy . Image Chairlift.org.

With the increasing number of attractive and non-utilitarian cabin and tower designs , this will likely help inspire other project proponents to develop and add their own creative touches to their ropeways.

For the time being however, the Russian capital’s VDNKh park may very well have built one of the world’s most eye-catching aerial gondolas in recent memory.

 

A big thank you (again) to Irakli Z for forwarding us the link!

 



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Design Considerations / VDNKh Ropeway
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24
Aug

2018

Timang Beach Gondola — World’s Most Exciting and Expensive 30-Second Ropeway Ride?

Timang Beach Gondola. Image by Pandora Voon.

As early as 250BC, ropeways have been used to transport people and goods across difficult terrain. Even today, as many parts of the world are rapidly modernizing, some places are still reliant on simple cable systems.

In the Yogyakarta region of Indonesia, locals have strung together a rather precarious-looking cable car over the treacherous waters of the Indian Ocean. According to some online user comments, the Timang Beach Gondola was built in 1997 and was primarily used in the past to ferry lobster fisherman from the coast to a lobster nest on Pulau Timang, a small rocky outcrop 100m from the mainland.


However, with the advent of mass tourism, locals discovered that international visitors are willing to dish out a whole lot of dough to experience this one-of-a-kind gondola. If you watch the video above, it quickly becomes apparent why the chance to share your “dangerous” ropeway experience on social media (especially Instagram) makes it nearly impossible for millennial travellers to resist.

While the wooden, blue-roped gondola is a rudimentary piece of equipment, the operators appear to be experts when it comes to fare pricing. Believe it or not, the 30 second ride costs US$10.30 for locals and US$13.70 for international tourists!

With this ticket price, the Timang Beach Gondola is certainly not an inexpensive attraction — even by global standards. Given the short duration of the ride, it might even be the most expensive gondola on a per second ratio.

The Timang Beach Gondola costs about $0.23/second, making it more expensive than some of the world’s most advanced ropeways. Chart by CUP.

The open-air double decker cable car (CabriO) in Switzerland costs 3 cents less per second to ride than the Timang Beach Gondola. However, the overall ticket price is more expensive (US$74.50). Image by Alpohi.

It’s hard to imagine that a relatively remote part of Indonesia would be home to one of the world’s most expensive ropeways. But then again, given the physical manpower that’s actually involved to pull riders over, maybe the ride is a bargain after all.



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Economics / Installations / Just For Fun / Timang Beach Gondola
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10
Aug

2018

Portal Towers Seen in Moscow

A “portal tower” being built for the VDNKh amusement park ropeway in Moscow, Russia. Image by Another City.

With the growth of urban gondolas in the cities, architects have naturally begun to experiment with more unique ropeway designs.

One particular element of a cable car which has received significant attention is the design of towers. For instance, decision-makers in cities such as Portland and London have built one-of-a-kind towers to add a touch of distinctiveness to their ropeway and surroundings.

Architects in recent proposals have continued this trend where even bolder designs are now becoming more common.

Above illustrations depict the final four conceptual styles that were chosen above as part of the design competition for the Gothenburg Cable Car. The design, second from the left, was ultimately chosen as the winner. Image from forlivochrorelse.se.

If you look closely above, the first rendering from the left, depicts a rare portal or lollipop tower concept. While this design did not win Gothenburg’s architectural competition, we personally thought that the portal tower could become a strong concept for future proposals.

As you can imagine, we were pleasantly surprised when we found out that a recreational ropeway in Moscow was already under construction with portal towers!

View of portal tower. Image by Another City.

There are currently three giant portal towers erected on site. Image by Another City.

Unfortunately, there is not a whole lot of information about the gondola itself.

However, what we do know is that the system is about 900m long and is being built at VDNKh, an amusement park/exhibition complex located ~10km north of Moscow’s city centre. VDNKh is also known as the Exhibition of Achievements of the National Economy and is one of the 50 largest exhibitions in the world.

The cable car will be constructed as part of a new 17.3ha theme park. A number of new attractions will be built which includes indoor pavilions, a 140m ferris wheel, and a roller coaster. An estimated 2 million people are expected to visit the park once it opens sometime in Fall 2018.

It’s uncertain when the ropeway will become operational, but hopefully once its complete, it can serve as another notable case study and a demonstration of the tower designs that are possible with urban gondolas.

 

A big thank you goes out to Irakli Z for sharing the photos/links with us!



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Installations / VDNKh Ropeway
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