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30
Oct

2020

Weekly Roundup: Looking at Systems in a New Way

Park City, Utah, is considering an aerial gondola network. Photo credit: PeteysHead, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons


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03
Oct

2019

Steven Dale on The Rice Report

Gondola Project’s Steven Dale, Principal and Urban Planner, has been busy! He was recently a guest on The Rice Report to talk the benefits aerial transit could bring to a community. Watch the full episode below.

Aerial Transit: Masses fly through the air to get to work

Posted by The Rice Report on Tuesday, September 24, 2019


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01
Oct

2019

Gondola Project on CNN

Gondola Project’s own Steven Dale, Urban Planner, and Jim Fletcher, Cable Car Design Engineer, are in the Philippines this week to talk about the possibility of implementing cable car systems there.

Authorities eyeing first cable car system in Metro Manila

FIRST ON CNN PHILIPPINES: Urban planners are looking at a mass cable car system as a solution to traffic congestion in Metro Manila — dubbed as the 'most congested' city in developing Asia bit.ly/2nZlym3

Posted by CNN Philippines on Monday, September 30, 2019


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06
Sep

2019

Weekly Roundup: Environmental Impact

South Korea’s Ministry of Environment will soon decide whether they will allow the installation of a cable car system in the pictured Mount Seorak National Park.
  • A proposed cable car to one of the highest peaks of Mount Seorak in northeast South Korea has both supporters and opponents. The project has seen many design variations since its original conception back in 1995. Supporters of the project see it as a way to reduce foot traffic on eroding trails and boost local tourism. Opponents have environmental concerns and say the primary purpose for national parks should be for preservation, not tourism.
  • Decades of glacial retreat, and anticipated continued geological and glacial changes, has led to a new funifor design by Doppelmayr for the Falginjochbahn lift in Australia. Cabins are replacing two T bar drag lifts which could no longer by used due to retreating ice. The new design lets cabins runs closer to the ground than traditional designs and be less exposed to the wind, among other things.
  • “Here’s all this summer’s gondola gab” gets you caught up on recent activities related to constructing a urban transit gondola to Simon Fraser University (SFU), atop Burnaby Mountain in British Columbia, Canada. The project is primary designed as an alternative to congested routes connecting to SFU. The article, from the student newspaper, The Peak, includes information on possible routes, construction, accessibility, costs, and safety. In an earlier article, the Gondola Project weighed in on why some people are resistant.


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17
May

2019

Gondola Project To Be Featured on CBS News

A couple of weeks ago Gondola Project founder, Steven Dale was flown by CBS News to Mexico City to explore and comment on that city’s Mexicable cable-propelled transit system and discuss the current state of cable car technology. That interview and segment will air as a part of CBS News’ primetime special NO EXIT! tonight at 9pm ET/PT.

From the CBS News press release:

“The special, produced by the team at CBS SUNDAY MORNING, features stories that highlight everything from scenic drives to crazy commutes, the promise of cars that can lift off the ground and fly over traffic, and some thoughts from comedian Jim Gaffigan who explains why he enjoys traffic. Anchored by Jane Pauley, NO EXIT! features Lee Cowan’s report on how America’s love of freedom and automobiles created the gridlock the country experiences today and what engineers are doing to help eliminate it.”

As an added bonus, Steven had the chance to explore and document the system as a whole and spoke with several people close to the system’s planning, implementation and operations.

Expect a long-form, multi-post review of the system starting next week exclusively on Gondola Project.



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16
May

2019

Architect’s Vision for Cable Cars in NYC Demonstrates Complete Lack of Understanding of Cable Cars

CetraRuddy Cable Car New York City
Arndt Baetzner/Eugene Flotteron/CetraRuddy

Business Insider recently reported on CetraRuddy principal architect Eugene Flotteron’s plan for a cable car system blanketing New York City. The plan is the usual mishmash of a “grand vision” without a shred of technical validity. 

The plan envisions 35 person cabins departing every 15-20 seconds to deliver 5,000 pphpd while travelling at 30 mph and costing just $3 million to $12 million per mile. 

Regular readers will know that only two of those five specifications have merit. The other three are fabrications. 

Beyond the plan’s statistical impossibilities, there are a myriad of other technical problems with the design. Conceptual renderings depict massive, unsupported spans across land and water; a vast number of technically impossible on-tower turns; and single section distances that test the current upper limits of the technology’s capabilities. 

At least one of the renderings depicts all of the above.

This one.
Image by Arndt Baetzner/Eugene Flotteron/CetraRuddy

Business Insider never once questions the validity of the concept all the while implying that building a cable car would somehow be preferable than “trying to wade through the red tape of building additional rail lines.” 

If you think the red tape associated with a known and appreciated technology like rail is difficult. Imagine the complexity of dealing with an unknown and unappreciated technology like cable cars. Just ask the people in Portland

I could get into the technical nitty gritty of why the majority of this plan is technically infeasible, but I’d rather use what remains of my time and space here to focus on the purported “$3 million to $12 million per mile” to construct this. 

Nonsense. 

Maybe if we were talking about a basic monocable system with off-the-shelf components and slim profile stations built in a rural setting that requires only a single landowner’s consent. But we’re not. 

We’re talking about what appears to be a 3S system using custom towers and cabins, crossing one of the busiest urban harbors in the world, in one of (if not the) most complicated bureaucratic environment in North America. 

The lawyers alone are going to cost you $3 million per mile.

By way of comparison — to rebuild the Roosevelt Island Tram (RIT) cost approximately $25 million. I want to reinforce the point that this was for a rebuild. Much of the existing tower and station infrastructure was repurposed. As it was not a new system, permitting was less complicated than it would’ve been had it been a new build. Lastly, the RIT utilizes Aerial Tram technology which is much less complex and therefore much cheaper than the state-of-the-art 3S technology depicted in the CetraRuddy plan. 

The RIT came in at a per-mile cost of over $40 million. And that was a decade ago. 

How then can the CetraRuddy plan cost $3 million to $12 million per mile? It can’t. Full stop. 

Notwithstanding the fact that per-mile cost estimates are a terrible way to estimate cable car prices, there’s no way to build this for seven to thirty percent of the cost of a simpler system built ten years ago in the same jurisdiction. 

Would it be cheaper than the alternatives? Almost definitely, but let’s not set people’s expectations so high that there’s no choice but to disappoint when the rubber hits the road. 

Some might be inclined to discount all of these issues as mere detailsand not to sweat them right now. It’s more important that this thing is visionary. It’s grand. It’s innovative

Except that it’s not. The details matter. If they don’t, what we’re talking about isn’t city building but fiction. As I see it, for something to be grand, visionary and innovative, it’s gotta’ be realistic enough, technically achievable enough and honest enough to warrant further contemplation and consideration. This is none of those things. 

We run into these kinds of situations all the time right now. Someone latches onto the idea of urban gondolas and cable cars in a city and instead of doing the necessary research to develop an idea properly, they learn just enough to get themselves into trouble. 

Meanwhile the salespeople and biz dev departments of the major cable car suppliers look at this and say something to the effect of “yeah there’s no way this can ever get built but at least we’re getting the message out.” 

But what precisely is that message? Is false advertising and empty promises really what we need in this industry?

Cable cars connecting the various boroughs of New York City is about the most logical application of the technology in all of North America. The city is massive, has throngs of tourists and commuters alike and is absolutely strangled by a laughably limited (and constantly congested) number of bottlenecks and chokepoints to get people onto and off of Manhattan island. 

This is a winner of an idea but let’s not present it as a plan to the public before major technical matters are addressed first.

There’s never been more interest in urban gondolas and transit-oriented cable cars in the history of the business. Now’s the time for the industry to strike. But every half-baked idea that comes along promising something the industry simply cannot deliver works at cross-purposes to the goal of implementing cable cars and gondolas as complementary pieces of a multi-modal public transportation system. 



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23
Nov

2018

La Paz’s 9th Urban Gondola – The Brown Line – Will Open in January 2019

The Brown Line’s Busch Station is partially hidden behind the red multi-storey building. To its right is the existing Busch Station for the White Line. Image by ecram.

After the cable was installed earlier this year in September, construction works have been progressing steadily for the Brown Line (Spanish: Línea Café) — La Paz’s 9th urban gondola and third final cable car.

Local reports suggest the upcoming rapid transit system will be open for passenger service by January 2019. If all goes according to plan, officials will begin system testing in December and will hopefully receive a safety certification by the end of the month. Unlike the rest of the Mi Teleférico network where each line is connected to at least three stations, the Brown Line marks a slight departure from this design philosophy.

At just 714m in length and two stations, the Brown Line will be shortest ropeway line in La Paz. As a comparison, the Linea Cafe is 80% shorter and has three fewer stations than the network’s longest line (i.e. the Blue Line).

Photo the Brown Line’s Villa San Antonio Station back in August 2018. Image by massaff.

Brown Line. Image from Mi Teleferico.

Despite its relatively short length, the system provides an important transport service to locals travelling to the Miraflores and Villa San Antonio neigbhourhoods located in the east end of the city. Effectively this means that the Brown Line will function as a feeder system to the longer 2.9km White Line since it provide riders with the ability to transfer at Busch station. The Brown Line will be one of the two systems scheduled to open in the new year — the second being the 2.6km Silver Line.

To put it into perspective, after the Brown Line becomes operational, the city’s cable car masterplan (i.e. Metropolitan Integration Network) will be over 80% complete as the La Paz will have built nearly 28km of cable cars spread over 33 stations. By comparison, the world’s second largest network of urban gondolas in Medellin, Colombia is less than half that size with just 12km of ropeways and 16 stations.

Overall, the new system will offer passengers with a speedy 3.8 minute connection and operate with a capacity of 3,000 pphpd (26 cabins). Officials hope that the Brown Line will add to its success as Mi Teleférico’s existing lines now transport more than 250,000 passengers each day! Not too shabby for a system that only first opened in 2014.



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