FAQ

Here are some of the most common questions and concerns asked about gondolas.
More questions? Contact us.

1. Isn’t using gondolas as public transit crazy?!
2. Is Cable Propelled Transit (CPT) safe?
3. Gondolas are only useful in mountainous terrain and should not be used in urban areas.
4. How many people can gondolas move?
5. Aren’t gondolas really slow?
6. Can a gondola run in the winter? What about snow and ice?
7. What happens if a gondola lift malfunctions mid-ride?
8. When was cable transit invented? If this is such a great idea why don’t we see it in more places?
9. Who makes gondolas?
10. How long does it take to install a gondola?
11. Are CPT systems expensive?
12. My grandmother is afraid of heights, she’ll never take a gondola!

 


1. Isn’t using gondolas as public transit crazy?!

We thought so at first, too. But the more we learned about the technology, the more it made sense.

Of course, like any transit, there are places where gondolas make sense and places where they don’t. While the Gondola Project is a resource for CPT (Cable Propelled Transit), this does not automatically mean we suggest replacing a city’s entire existing and future rapid transit network with gondolas.

Rather, our hope is that this website will help inform citizens and decision-makers on the actual capabilities of CPT technology, while dispelling common rumours and misconceptions that have plagued the technology.

 

2. Is Cable Propelled Transit (CPT) safe?

CPT is one of the world’s safest forms of transportation. Statistically speaking, chances of a person experiencing a serious injury or fatality while riding a cable lift is (ironically) less than than while skiing. On top of an impressive operation record, the industry engineers each system to a high degree of safety, with multiple redundancies and egress options.

For example, in the United States, there has not been a single lift-related fatality at a ski area since 1993. When an accident does occur, keep in mind the following rule-of-thumb: “the degree of media coverage a given technology’s failure causes is inversely related to the chance of that failure’s occurrence”


3. Gondolas are only useful in mountainous terrain and should not be used in urban areas.

Remember: There is no traffic 25 ft in the air.

While cable lifts are typically used in topographically constrained areas, they also have the ability to capitalize on flat surface terrains. If you look around you’ll notice that city traffic may be the ultimate urban topographical challenge.

For a great example of a flat terrain gondola, check out the Parque das Nações gondola in Lisbon, Portugal.

 

4. How many people can gondolas move?

CPT technology is constantly improving and evolving. Existing systems in Medellin, Colombia and Caracas, Venezuela are designed to carry 3000 pphpd. Theoretically, a CPT system can handle approximately ~6000-8000 pphpd.

 

5. Aren’t gondolas really slow?

When comparing speeds, it is important to not compare maximum speeds, rather we must compare average speeds.

For example, streetcars and buses are built to travel upwards of 100km/h. However, due to, but not limited to factors such as traffic, boarding times, intersection lengths, signal timings and etc., they often travel much, much slower. For example streetcars in Toronto have average speeds of 13km/h.

While CPT systems cannot compete with Full ROW subway/LRT speeds, existing urban cable lifts in Medellín – for example – have average operating speeds of 16km/h.

Newer CPT technology such as 3S/TDG and Aerial Trams are capable of even higher average speeds.

 

6. Can a gondola run in the winter? What about snow and ice?

This questions come up surprisingly often for a technology that is most commonly associated with skiing.

Gondolas are built in some of the world’s harshest and most unforgiving climates. There have many advancements in recent gondola lift technology and many CPT systems have been designed for and built primarily on mountains. So yes, a gondola can definitely operate in the winter … and you don’t even have to shovel!

 

7. What happens if a gondola lift malfunctions mid-ride?

All CPT systems are built with one or more back-up diesel engines.

In the extremely rare event of a complete lift failure, emergency procedures are in place with trained crews assisting in the safe and orderly evacuation of passengers.

 

8. When was cable transit invented? If this is such a great idea why don’t we see it in more places?

Modern cable technology has been around for over 70 years, with the first passenger gondola arriving in the 1930s. The technology remained on mountains for many years, only recently making its mark on the urban market. A lack of information, or at least accurate information, available over the years has severely limited the technology as an alternative.

Cable was first seen in cities in the form of cable cars (think San Francisco) and funiculars, but was quickly made obsolete by electrically powered streetcars.

Only recently has urban cable occurred in the form of aerial cable. Since the first lines (New York, USA; and Medellín, Colombia), the number of urban cable systems has increased rapidly. Around the world these systems include, but are not limited to:


9. Who makes gondolas?

The world’s two biggest manufacturers are Doppelmayr and Leitner.

 

10. How long does it take to install a gondola?

Smaller, less complex (~1km, MDG) CPT systems can be designed and built in approximately one year’s time.

 

11. Are CPT systems expensive?

Similar to other public transit technology, the true construction costs of a CPT system is dependent on numerous factors such as local considerations and CPT technology. Generally speaking, a CPT system’s cost is competitive and can be built at a fraction of the cost of a similar rapid transit technology.

 

12. My grandmother is afraid of heights, she’ll never take a gondola!

This comment is one of our personal favourites. Kindly refer to our grandmother test.