Proposals & Concepts

11
Apr

2018

Gothenburg Cable Car in 3D


Bit by bit, the proposal for the Gothenburg Cable Car is starting to take shape.

After a panel of judges selected the winners of its cable car design competition in February, the team behind what may be Sweden’s first Cable Propelled Transit (CPT) system has produced a fantastic 3D animation of the twelve minute aerial ride.

Over the years, we’ve seen many thoughtful and well-meaning proposals. However, when it comes to developing a well-coordinated and comprehensive project development plan, the Gothenburg proposal really stands head and shoulders above its competitors.

From the aforementioned design competition, the project team has incorporated many unique ideas to not only build support for the proposal, but to engage the local community in a fully transparent and interactive manner. To name a few memorable items, the team have designed 360 degree videos (see below), hands-on information booths with 3D goggles, and an informative website.


The development team behind the proposal has undoubtedly done their homework and aspiring CPT project proponents would be wise to learn and integrate some of these best practices into their proposals. If the project continues to hit its targeted timelines, the cable car should be operational by the time the City celebrates its 400th birthday in 2021.



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20
Mar

2018

Interview on Edmonton’s Urban Gondola Project

Edmonton Gondola Rendering. Image from CBC.

In the last few weeks, interest in urban gondolas has skyrocketed as two major proposals simultaneously made headlines in North America. In Canada, the Edmonton River Valley Gondola was selected as the winner of a local design competition while the Boston Seaport Gondola proposal was revised and re-released for public consumption.

As part of the general discourse, Gondola Project’s founder, Steven Dale, was recently featured and interviewed by Laura Lynch on CBC Radio. In the eight minute conservation, Steven gives his insight on the state of Cable Propelled Transit (CPT) and why a gondola in Edmonton might make a lot of sense. In addition, you can also hear project proponent, Amber Polyquin’s thoughts on how the proposal was developed.

For those new to the website, please feel free to browse around, ask questions and explore why the idea of using gondolas as urban transport might not be as wacky as you think. In the links below, we’ve compiled a few posts and articles to get you started:

  • Our original blog post on Medellin and Caracas contains a lot of great background information on the evolution and growth of urban cable cars.
  • The world of ropeways can be confusing at first. Take time to learn about the differences between an MDG gondola, a 3S gondola and an Aerial Tram. While these technologies share similarities, their performance capabilities can vary considerably.
  • Understand that we’re not gondola zealots. We don’t see gondolas as the be-all and end-all of public transit. We simply see it as one among many transportation tools. You’ll find us to be highly critical when we need to be.
  • And lastly, be sure to check out how the Edmonton gondola won the competition in the YouTube video below

 



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14
Feb

2018

Competition Winner Selected for Gothenburg Cable Car

Modern station and tower designs developed by UNStudios pay homage to the City’s harbour cranes.

Sweden’s first urban gondola, the Gothenburg Cable Car, is one step closer to realization. The US$137 million (SEK 1.1 billion) system will mark the first time a new mode of public transport is introduced in the country since Stockholm’s subway was built in 1930.

The proposal, which started in 2013, set off on a design competition in June 2017 where several teams were invited to submit their concepts. To up the stakes and sweeten the pot, selected participants were compensated US$50,000 (SEK 400,000) for their submissions while the winner won a cool US$125,000 (SEK 1,000,000).

After careful deliberation and several rounds of public consultations, the team made up of the Amsterdam-based UNStudios and Gothenburg-based, Kjellgren Kaminsky Architecture were chosen as the winners. The jury’s decision was guided by a competition brief and four main principles:

  • Architectural quality and design
  • Function, logistics, and accessibility
  • Feasibility and development potential
  • Sustainability: economic, administrative, environmental and social

While the cable car has been proposed as a four station system with six towers, the committee tasked the participants to develop generic concepts for just an intermediate station, an end station, system lighting and two towers (65m and 100m). The City wanted the architects and engineers to develop a plan where the proposal had flexibility to be revised in the detailed design stage but without losing its core concept.

The winning concept, known as New Beacons, was ultimately chosen as the jury described it as a, “sensitively presented proposal that combines poetry and playfulness with flexibility and development potential.” The jury made specific comments on the towers ability to reference Gothenburg’s history as a working harbour and how the stations were designed with ecological sustainability in mind.

Route map of Gothenburg Cable Car.

Stations designed with a minimal footprint to ensure flexibility for each station site.

Photovoltaic thermal roofing designed for stations.

Harbour cranes provided inspiration throughout entire project’s concepting.

Conceptual tower design may be constructed with fiber reinforced spun concrete or steel section with hollow cross section.

UNStudios will act as the project’s design consultant who will work alongside a team in a “turn-key” contract. A main contractor will be responsible for the final feasibility study, planning and construction of the cable car.

As strange as this may sound, while the competition is now over and a project contractor has been chosen (currently awaiting court ruling on an appeal), the project is technically not fully approved yet.

A feasibility study is underway and will not be complete until summer 2019. At the same time, the City Planning Authority is coordinating development plans to not only allow the construction and operation of the cable car but to determine how the cable car will interact with its surrounding environment.

Until then, the project team will have plenty of work ahead as Gothenburg City Council will make a final decision in June 2019 on whether or not they want to invest in and construct the cable car. If everything goes according to plan, project proponents hope to have the cable car up and running by the City’s 400th year celebrations in 2021.



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05
Dec

2017

French Island of Reunion Prepares to Build 5-Station Urban Gondola

Chaudron <> Bois-de-Nefles — Moufia Station. Image from telepherique-urbain.cinor.org.

The city of Saint-Denis, located on the small overseas French department of Reunion, is preparing to build the island’s first urban cable car.

At first glance, given the remoteness of Saint-Denis, it’s perhaps one of the last places one would expect to find interest for Cable Propelled Transit (CPT) solutions. Upon closer inspection however, there seems to be considerable merit and tact to the gondola plans.

As the city’s northern coastlines are largely urbanized, it appears that development pressures are now spreading towards the mountain slopes to the south. From a general perspective, these urbanization patterns appear not so dissimilar to those found in other cable transit cities such as Medellin, La Paz and Ecatepec.

Communauté intercommunale du Nord de La Réunion (CINOR), an intercommunal public agency created in 2000 through the agglomeration of three communes, has been responsible for spearheading the island’s urban gondola plans.



On its dedicated gondola website, the agency has introduced two ropeway alignments, known collectively as the Urban Cable Cars of CINOR (French: Telepherique Urbain de la CINOR). One proposal is referred to as Bellepierre <> La Montagne while the second is referred to as Chaudron <> Bois-de-Nefles.

Chaudron <> Moufia Cable Car — Campus Station. Image from telepherique-urbain.cinor.org.

Chaudron <> Bois-de-Nefles Cable Car

The Chaudron <> Bois-de-Nefles Cable Car is the first concept released for public consumption back in late 2016. At 2.5km in length, the 5-station MDG is estimated to benefit not only the 15,000 pupils studying at the University of Reunion, but to also improve transport for the 53,000 residents living in the affected neighbourhoods of Moufia (15,000 residents), Bois-de-Nefles (9,000 residents), and Chaudron (29,000 residents).

While the system is not the longest urban gondola in the world, the system’s size in terms of total stations (5) rival the large cable transit lines found in La Paz (i.e. Blue Line and White Line).

Today, users travelling on road-based transport face considerable congestion due to the steep, and narrow mountain roads. With a 13-minute aerial gondola ride, proponents hope to enhance transit service and attract 6,100 users per day.

Starting last year, CINOR spent three to four months soliciting feedback from stakeholders where it amassed over 1,000 responses and engaged with more than 350 locals. Surveyed results indicate that 85% of respondents are in favour of the cable car.

From the translated materials found online, the proposal appears to be well thought out as it was developed in conjunction with two regional transport plans (Réseau Régional de Transport Guidé – RRTG and Réseau Intégré de Transport Moderne – RITMO).

This week, the construction contract totalling US$53.0 million was officially awarded, paving the way for system commissioning by late 2019.

Bellepierre <> La Montange Cable Car — Belvedere Station. Image from telepherique-urbain.cinor.org.

Bellepierre <> La Montagne Cable Car

The second cable transit proposal, located in the west side of Saint Denis, appears to be a much simpler system. With only two stations, 1.3km of ropeway and a ride time of less than 5 minutes, the proposal is designed to improve connectivity between Bellepierre (bottom station) and La Montagne (top station).

Between 1999 – 2012, the population at hillside district of La Montagne grew by 9% to 13,300 residents. In the future, enhanced transit service will be even more critical as 2,250 additional housing units are slated for construction. Already, traffic studies found that road congestion may increase by 15% to 14,000 daily vehicles by 2021 if transport alternatives are not provided.

Bellepierre <> La Montange Cable Car — Bertin-Hopital Station. Image from telepherique-urbain.cinor.org.

Given the spectacular views on the plateau, project proponents anticipate that this cable car will play a touristic role as well. Thanks to the work completed for the initial Chaudron <> Bois-de-Nefles Cable Car, CINOR has incorporated many lessons in its second proposal.

From the aerial images and online commentary, route planners were able to design a system that not only reduces visual intrusion and avoids private properties, but conceptualize a cable car that minimizes tower construction. This US$30-35 million 3S cable car is currently designed with only four towers.

Similar to the previous proposal, project proponents have developed the cable car in conjunction with regional transport plans. At the Bertin-Hopital station, passengers will be able to seamlessly transfer to the region’s bus network.

If everything goes according to plan, CINOR hopes to open this cable car by 2020-2021.

 

 



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Bellepierre La Montagne Cable Car / Chaudron Moufia Cable Car / Proposals & Concepts / Urban Cable Cars of CINOR
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01
Dec

2017

Megacable Pereira


Pereira is a mid-sized Colombian city located nearly equidistant from the country’s three largest urban centres — Bogota, Medellin and Cali. Referred to as “mini-Medellin” by some due to its similar topography and climate, it perhaps is not a surprise that the City has taken major steps towards realizing its own Cable Propelled Transit (CPT) system.

From a cursory look, the urban gondola proposal, known locally as the Megacable de Pereira, has received zero coverage outside of Colombia and has basically slipped the radar of all transport news outlets, including yours truly. However, thanks to loyal readers, we’ve received some snippets of the proposal.

The current alignment is a 3.4km cable car that is designed to connect four station areas — Olaya Herrera Park, Pereira Transport Terminal, Pereira Technological University and Villa Santana. A total of 60,000 persons are expected to benefit from this service.

The aerial ropeway will operate as part the mass transit network and provide users an opportunity to switch onto the City’s bus rapid transit network, Megabús, at Olaya Herrera Park.

Megacable de Pereira Route Alignment. Screenshot from YouTube.

This particular rendition of the gondola seems to stem from the 2015 campaign promises made by Pereira’s current mayor, Juan Pablo Gallo.

Projected to open in 2019, Megacable will be Colombia’s longest public transit gondola (3.4km) and become the country’s fifth city to build a CPT line after Cali, Medellin, Manizales and Bogota (scheduled to open April 2018).

Back in September, the tender for the Megacable was released with an upset limit of US$40.1 million (COP 118 billion). Two firms, one led by Doppelmayr and one led by POMA, responded to proposal with bids coming in lower than the ceiling amount.

A decision on the winner is expected to take place next week on December 5. Stay tuned.



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Megacable de Pereira / Proposals & Concepts
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06
Nov

2017

Gothenburg Cable Car Reveal Competition Designs

Four final conceptual designs selected for Gothenburg Cable Car. Image from forlivochrorelse.se.

As part of Gothenburg’s 400th year anniversary celebrations in 2021, the city is working towards building Sweden’s first Cable Propelled Transit (CPT) system. The proposal, first initiated in 2013, is envisioned to improve public transport access to four different station areas — Lindholmen, Västra Ramberget, Wieselgrensplatsen, and Järntorget.

This year in January, the City Planning Committee (Swedish: Byggnadsnämnd) gave its support for the proposal and by the end of this year, the city will complete its procurement for the project’s Technical Supplier. Before City Council makes a final financing decision on the cable car in 2019, several studies will be ongoing throughout 2017 and 2018. Included in this work program was an architectural competition where four final designs have now been presented to the public.

Urban gondola conceptual design by Group A. Image from forlivochrorelse.se.

Urban gondola designs by Group B. Image from forlivochrorelse.se.

Urban gondola designs by Group C. Image from forlivochrorelse.se.

Urban gondola designs by Group D. Image from forlivochrorelse.se.

Between now and December, residents have the opportunity to view the cable car designs in five different exhibitions throughout the city. Afterwards, the four proposals will be assessed by a panel of experts before the final winner of the competition is announced in February 2018. Until then, the teams behind each of the designs will remain a mystery.

All of the designs presented provide glimpses into how Gothenburg’s skyline may be altered in the near future. Compared to renderings of other urban cable car projects, the ones from Gothenburg are amongst the most creative and imaginative we’ve ever seen. Some seem to take their inspiration from existing urban gondolas such as the Koblenz Rheinseilbahn and the Emirates Air Line. Given the high quality submissions, judges will likely have a difficult time selecting the winner.

Based on our gut feeling at this time, we certainly have a feel for our favourite design. What about you? To see the complete collage of conceptual renderings, please click here.

 

 

 

 

 



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Gothenburg Cable Car
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03
May

2017

New York State Fair Gondola — A Public Relations Nightmare

New York State Fair Gondola

Not to get all nit-picky but this is not a gondola. Image via Governors Office

Here’s a question I’d like to know — who did the PR on the New York State Fair Gondola? Was there even anyone? 

Because from this desk, the only public communications I’ve seen thus far has been a rendering presumably hacked together by an intern of the fair with the Roosevelt Island Tram floating overhead — which regular readers of this site know is technically completely inaccurate and probably speaks to the level of detail officials got into when it came to presenting this project to the public. 

(For anyone curious readers, an Aerial Tram and a Gondola are two completely different technologies.)

Industry observers know that this proposal has been working it’s way through the New York State legislature for the last several months and looked to be heading towards realization until it recently got battered in the press for a variety of issues and has been positioned by its opponents as representing an out-of-touch government wasting tax payer dollars. 

That narrative has stuck because there’s been basically no counter-narrative. No economic justification for its existence has been presented.

For the record, we here have no horse in this race, except perhaps as analysts who find it curious that so many current gondola proponents spend so little time crafting the story behind what is oftentimes going to be a very controversial proposal. 

So here’s a few questions that the government could’ve started with and should as this situation develops — 

What are the economics of the gondola? We know that it’s going to cost around $15mm but that’s about it. Is it a profitable investment? If so, could the private sector finance it? 

A system such as this will get excellent financing terms because it’s going to be presumably paid for by the state government. That means low, fixed interest rates; long repayment schedules; and zero equity up front. Those things always help any project’s economics. But what are this project’s economics?  

Is the gondola projected to make money? Given the preferential financials the project will enjoy, isn’t it worth asking that question? 

What’s the fare going to be? How many riders are projected to use it? 

Is this a tourist-oriented ride or is this is a piece of transport infrastructure designed to move people about the site free-from-charge? If it’s the latter, will it cause more visitors to attend the fair? Will it cause more events to be booked at the fairgrounds throughout the rest of the year thereby making the overall site more profitable? 

Will it operate year-round? What are the annual operations & maintenance costs? 

Basically — how is this thing supposed to work?

Who, What, When, Where, Why and How. W5+H. It’s that simple. 

Almost none of this has been unpacked publicly. Which, admittedly, suggests that either project economics aren’t actually understood at this time or they are understood and being kept under wraps for reasons unknown. 

The gondola has become a political punching bag and an example of wasteful government spending so much so that officials involved appear to be prepping the ground for delaying the installation under the auspices that other fair expenditures may need to take priority. 

If the system is economically unfeasible, then that may be a deserved fate.

If, however, the gondola is economically self-sustaining and/or provides enough economic spin-off benefits to the fair to justify its existence, then that needs to actually be communicated to the public — because right now that hasn’t been. Opponents of the gondola (or of the project’s main champion, Governor Andrew Cuomo) have been laying into the project like they’re playing Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! with every cheat code in existence at their disposal. 

Right now the narrative of the gondola is poisonous because no narrative in favour of the gondola even exists. Like any political intervention, a gondola system requires a narrative that positions it in the public’s eye in a positive light. People aren’t just going to like it because it’s a gondola even though that seems to be the default position of many gondola project proponents nowadays. 

That’s completely the wrong position to take. In fact, by virtue simply of being a gondola there will be one contingent of people who will actively dislike it because it’s bizarre and another contingent who will see the bizarreness of the technology as a means to opportunistically win political points at the expense of the proponent whether they agree with the given project or not. 

Right now somewhere in New York, someone’s PR person is in all kinds of trouble. 



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New York State Fair Gondola
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