Questions

19
Jun

2013

Curvo Ropeway: Non-Linear Aerial Urban Cable Cars by CSR

CURVO Ropeway's angular module. Image by CSR.

CURVO Ropeway’s angular module. Image by CSR.

A great thing about researching CPT is that sometimes you never know what you’re going to stumble onto next. Recently, I came across a ropeway manufacturer in India called Conveyor & Ropeway Services where a few years back they announced that they’ve invented a new type of aerial transit called the CURVO Ropeway. Without going into much detail at this time, some of the purported features of this technology include:

  • Cabin capacity: 8-10 persons
  • Tower “kerb” spacing: Every 80-90m
  • Tower footprint: 2.0 sq.m.
  • Line capacity: 2,000-2,500 pphpd (single track); 4,000-4,500 (double)
  • Cost: USD$27 – 50 million per kilometre
  • Average Speed: 12.5km/h

While the stats above are comparable to a MDG (if not more expensive, and lower capacity), it appears that main difference between the CURVO and its existing counterparts lies in its gripping mechanism. Since I’m not an engineer by trade, some of the terminology used to describe the technical features of the CURVO grip is not well understood. However, as I know some of our readers are more technically-oriented than I am, an excerpt from the original article has been pasted below that describes the company’s innovation:

CURVO Grip. Image by CSR.

CURVO Grip. Image by CSR.

” The crux of the CURVO Ropeway’s invention /development lies in designing the Gripping Device of the rope, in its vertical structure with respect to the rope, along with horizontal actuation of gripping means, and rendering it possible to shift centroid of suspended Cabin / Carriage, essentially required to negotiate the horizontal curve at line speed, keeping the grip structure clear of the Battery Rollers, whose main function is to provide horizontal support to the tensioned rope negotiating the curve. This could be done with relational adjustment of levels of the rails supporting the two wheel bogies on either side of the rope effecting changed suspension, and relief of the Rope on the Battery Roller system. Depending on city configurations, the Curvo lines should be able to cross each other.” 
 

So in plain language, it seems that CURVO’s claim to fame is that their cabins can make sharp corners without detaching from the propulsion cable. Exactly how many degrees it can turn and navigate is unclear. But based on a video that the company has released, it seems that their prototype line have modest cornering capabilities (skip to 6:41).




However, we already know from existing systems (i.e. Kolmarden Wildlife Park Cable Car) that unidirectional lines can already accomplish significant turns with light infrastructure. How this is different or similar to those features requires more investigation. If anything, perhaps due to geographic and language barriers, the video has created just as many answers as there are questions.

I always find it incredibly interesting to see how different companies around the world are constantly developing ideas and techniques to solve our urban transport challenges. Whether this technology catches on is unknown at this time — however, West Bengal and Dhaka, Bangladesh is reportedly in the midst of investigating its potential feasibility.



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28
Nov

2012

Double Loading Chairlift – Quick Silver Quad

One of the great things about blogging on the Gondola Project is that we never stop learning.

Recently, one of our readers sent us a link about a “Double Loading” chairlift called the Quick Silver Quad which operates in Colorado’s Breckenridge Ski Resort.

 

Double loading areas. Image from skilifts.org

Statistics from skilifts.org indicate that this system has a capacity of 3,600 pphpd and was built in 1999. Since this feature is very rare  (it’s the only example in North America), there’s little information about it online.

At this time, it’s unclear what implications this might have for cable transit. However, one question that immediately comes to mind is whether or not this design could be adapted in an urban gondola to increase capacity and improve loading times.

We’ll try and dig up some more information about it in the meantime but if anyone has more details about this and other similar systems, we’d love to hear about it. Thanks!



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06
Nov

2012

What is up with the Dubai Cable Car?

It’s pretty cool to see cable cars that run on flat land along a coast or river. Actually, we really like this idea: it means great views for riders, proves the theory that cable cars can run along flat land, and really smartly makes us of space that would otherwise be either undevelop-able or taken over by development.

(Why does half of Toronto not even know the city sits along Lake Ontario? Because there is a highway preventing you from seeing it.)

We first saw a flat land system following a coastline with the Lisbon Teleferico.

Lisbon Teleferico. CC image by Flickr user leandrociuffo.

Then we came across a video of the Rostock IGA Gondola, which had a segment running along the river.

Rostock Gondola

Now, we’ve come across this image of the Dubai Cable Car… along a coastline.

The Dubai Cable Car.

It appears to be a touristy system — and potentially has three stations, with boarding and alighting only allowed at the middle station. Aside from this information and a few conflicting facts and images, we haven’t seemed to figure out much about this elusive gondola.

That’s where you come in, dearest Gondola Project community! Let’s crowd-source this research and find out all we can. If you’d like to share what you know, please leave it in the comments below.



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26
Jul

2012

Gondolas & Proposals

 

She said yes! Image from rooseveltislander.blogspot.ca/.

From a technical standpoint, we know that urban gondolas can provide many distinct advantages (think low headways, high capacities and etc.). But what about the less tangible technological benefits?

We often argue that cable transit has the ability to appeal to the psychological and emotional aspects of riding transit. Now as a case in point, we found evidence of this.

Earlier this month, a young man decided to propose to his girlfriend on the Roosevelt Island Tram – a very creative gesture to say the least. Or is it?

Now I don’t want to take anything away from the RIT proposal, but a quick google search shows that cable car operators around the world are already well aware of this phenomenon. And who can blame them? The panoramic views and privacy offered by a gondola cabin is almost entirely conducive to this type of behaviour. For instance, the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway, the Ngong Ping 360, and Singapore Cable Car all suggest and recommend that a marriage proposal on their system is an unforgettable, romantic and surefire way to get your partner to say yes.

So while I thought CPT was the only transit type fit for this type of job, I couldn’t have been more wrong. But let’s take a step back here and hopefully I don’t start a technology war by asking this.

Wouldn’t you much prefer your significant other pop the question on a gondola than a bus?



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Just For Fun / Questions
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21
Mar

2012

Aerial Rapid Transit – Adding Flying Vehicles to the Mix

The Terrafugia, priced at $279,000, is on pace to become the world's first commercially available "flying car". Image from Times.

Over the past week, we’ve received a lot of attention about: Driver Assisted Cars – On the Brink of a Transport Revolution? Yesterday, Christian made an insightful and thought-provoking comment about how some standard airplane technologies, such as the GPS, tend to appear in cars 15-20 years later.

But what about the ability to fly…

Science-fiction shows have long depicted flying cars as man-kind’s future transport mode of choice. With the growing concerns over issues related to oil scarcity, safety measures, increasing congestion, government regulations and much more, could the flying car be the logical next step forward from existing terrestrial forms of transport?

Automated flight controls replaces manual operations and enable pilots to operate planes in "highways in the sky". Image from the Economist.

Unlike an automobile, planes are expensive to own and difficult to operate (although this could change in the future) — not to mention the training needed to safely operate an aircraft. Given all of this, it is unlikely that every person will be able to afford and operate their own their own flying vehicle. Even the inventor of the Hoverbike, Chris Malloy was quoted as saying, “Most people can’t parallel park, so I can’t see most people owning one of these without killing themselves.”

Yet, commercial planes have been around for decades and are used by millions of people. Adopt this model to public transit, and you’ve got yourself an aerial mass transit vehicle, yes?

Understandably this would require certain conditions — extreme traffic congestion, large upper-middle income class, continued rapid pace of technological innovation and etc. — but maybe a fleet of flying buses will be plying our skies sometime in the not too distant future. Micro-airports could be built in designated spots around a city’s periphery and downtown which offer passengers quick and convenient access to a variety of activity centres.

In some ways this is already happening. Members of the elite class in Sao Paulo, Brazil often fly around in one of the over 400 helicopters that jump from building to building, high above the chaotic traffic jams below.

As technologies continue to incorporate new modes of travel, the standards will also shift. Maybe someday our Aerial Rapid Transit nomenclature schema will include flying transit vehicles.



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19
Mar

2012

Spare some change? Shangqiu, Henan (China) Public Transport

Imagine if your paycheque came in the form of dollar bills. This is how it'd look like. Image by xinmin.cn.

Fare collection in transit systems have evolved dramatically in the last decades with many large agencies opting for electronic payment systems such as the Oyster Card (London) and Octopus Card (Hong Kong). However, in many places around the world, many people who are unfamiliar with this form of payment still choose to pay using regular spare change.

In the city of Shangqiu, located in China’s Henan province, staff working in the public transit agency have received their wage straight from the farebox (literally) for the past 12 years (link in Chinese)! This might be absurd (and slightly amusing) but there are two perfectly logical reasons for this: 1) While a transportation card exists, the number of users adopting this system is minimal; and 2) Local banks aren’t willing to accept that much loose change.

So the result is workers taking home a stack of bills and coins. Judging from the smile of the employee pictured above, I guess receiving a wage in dollar bills is better than not receiving a wage at all.

I'd hate to be the one responsible for sorting that out by hand. Image by xinmin.cn.

This brings several things to question: what is the farebox recovery of this transit system in Shangqiu? And are employees paid a fixed income or do their salaries fluctuate based on the amount of paying riders?

While this would obviously never happen here in North America, I can’t help but imagine what the results would be if this were to occur in the US and Canada. Better service? Poorer service? You be the judge.



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14
Mar

2012

Driver Assisted Cars – On the brink of a transport revolution?

The Volvo v40 offers an innovative "City Safety" system which includes features such as automated braking, pedestrian airbags and much more. Image from Autoworld.

Ever increasing urban populations are leading cities to focus more heavily on improving public transit infrastructure through the construction of rail, bus, and even cable lines. With such an extensive road network in North America, many cities and states find it difficult to further invest in additional infrastructure. Still, car congestion ensues — an issue that is further compounded by human error and “phantom traffic jams“.

So is there a way to make driving safer, less infuriating, and most importantly, more efficient during peak hours? We’ve heard of the Google Driverless Cars but these vehicles are not scheduled to hit the roads anytime soon. When they do, the transition surely cannot be immediate. Most likely there will be an in between phase — some sort of half-automated car.

Take for example, the Volvo V40 and Ford B-Max minivan. These cars offer driver assist features such as automatic braking. According to the Economist, the Volvo V40 essentially drives itself in busy traffic with the ability to maintain a safe distance between itself and surrounding vehicles.

Vehicles that can automatically adjust their speeds may significantly improve traffic flow in gridlock. Imagine a gradual movement instead of the lurching stop-and-go traffic we are all accustomed to.

But what, (if any) impact does this technology have on public transit? If travelling in personal vehicles is easier and more comfortable in the future, all while utilizing existing road infrastructure, will the role of public transit become less significant?

Or maybe more importantly, will this technology change more than just car culture? Can we somehow integrate “driver assists” with motorized mass transit vehicles to improve operational efficiency?

This type of technological innovation could have huge implications on transit planning and transportation in the not-so-distant future, ultimately altering the way we think about transit and urban mobility.



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