Recently I was at dinner with some good friends and, being a transit geek, began talking about urban gondolas as one way to ease urban traffic. My pal, who once believed gondolas would “never catch on in North America”, admitted how surprised he was to notice the Roosevelt Island Tramway on a recent visit to New York City. He was doubly surprised to learn it’s been there for almost 40 years.
New York has known congealed traffic for decades longer than most cities. It turns out, too, that New York never sleeps. So it should come as no huge surprise that their leaders would use some of that energy to try different solutions to bypass jams.
THE PROBLEM IS URBAN TRAFFIC AND IT’S, LITERALLY, NOT GOING ANYWHERE.
There’s hilarious footage at the beginning of John Lennon’s Live Peace movie from 1969. Just after the opening credits, the smart Beatle is being driven into town from the airport and the 401 highway, recognizable by us 2015 Torontonians, is utterly bereft of other vehicles, prompting the question: where were all the cars? Later during the concert part of the movie, Yoko caterwauls down the decades to us a discomforting answer to that question — don’t worry — and yes, you’ve been warned, it’s terrifying! Perhaps, our need to get from A to B is more comfortingly summarized by Lennon contemporaries, The Byrds, singing Dylan’s You Ain’t Going Nowhere.
THE POINT? GETTING FROM “NEVER” TO “BEEN HERE FOR 40 YEARS” IS A BIG LEAP FOR CYNICAL CITY DRIVERS.
Others stuck in traffic on this continent are starting to make that leap. A plethora of studies into gondolas as urban transport are underway, which chief Gondola Projector Steven Dale recently observed here. The Gondola Project is in talks with potential partners across the continent, looking at the idea and so are others. Considering the costs in lost productivity, the choking fumes and wear and tear on vehicles that work better at a steady pace rather than continual start and stop, plus the wear and tear on frustrated drivers’ physical and mental health (road rage is exhausting) . . . it simply makes sense to at least investigate alternatives.
Just this past weekend, yet another urban transit gondola proposal was put before Branson, Missouri Aldermen. The more studies, the better, as Steven said, because soon enough one or two will be approved. Then we’ll have momentum.
And, before you know it, we’ll be saying “It’s been here for 40 years”.
So, is it just us, or do you sense it too on this musical Monday morning? As John Lennon’s other contemporary Stephen Stills once sang, it seems like “There’s something happening here.”