17
Jul

2015

Weekly Roundup: Urban Cable Car in Samut Prakan & Snow Day in La Paz

Post by Nick Chu


A quick look at some of the things that happened this week in the world of urban gondolas, cable cars and cable propelled transit:

Urban Cable Car Crossing Chao Phraya (Samut Prakan, Thailand)
A US$11.7 million cable car is being planned for Samut Prakan, the province 29km south of Bangkok. The cable car will connect to the old Phra Samut Chedi district and integrate with the extension of the Skytrain’s Green Line. Planners hope this gondola crossing the Chao Phraya river will bring the area more attention and attract tourists.

“S’no Problem” (La Paz, Bolivia)
Skeptics who question whether urban gondolas could operate even in snowy conditions are invited to view this video. Or just see above.

But Arthurs Seat Skylift Gondola Is a Problem (Australia)
Opponents of the Arthurs Seat Skylift are planning to bring up two matters to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT). First, they are seeking to clarify the timing of the release of emergency management and bushfire plans, which we agree are critically important. Secondly, they will raise concerns regarding the colour of the gondola cabins. We like yellow.

16
Jul

2015

Photo of the Week: Dubrovnik Cable Car

Post by Nick Chu

Cable car

About:

In just 4 minutes, the Dubrovnik Cable Car travels a length of 778m, transporting sightseers to the top of Srđ Hill (405m asl). The city had an older cable car built in 1969 until it was disabled during the Croatian War of Independence in the ‘90s.

Luckily for today’s tourists though, the system was restored in 2010. So millions of annual visitors can enjoy stunning panoramic views of this historic walled city, Adriatic Sea and surrounding islands.

Every Thursday, the Gondola Project team will select stunning captures of CPT lines. We hope this will continue to bring more attention to the technology and provide visually impactful examples of cable car systems worldwide. If you’d like to submit or nominate a picture for our “Photo of the Week”, we’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment below or send us an email at gondola@creativeurbanprojects.com.

13
Jul

2015

Private Gondola Transport: A Sign of Things to Come?

Post by Nick Chu

Kadenwood Gondola. Canada’s first exclusive neighbourhood gondola. Image from Kadenwood.

Ropeways are built for many reasons: skiing, sightseeing, amusement, public transport, and private transport. Yes, that’s right private transport. It’s actually more common than you might think.

We’ve reported examples on the Gondola project before – like the Kriens funicular, Terra del Mar funicular, and of course, some of the rich and famous have their own personal systems.

Recently reader Evan J, sent us a video of Canada’s first exclusive neighbourhood aerial cable car, the Kadenwood Gondola.

Built for $3.5 million in 2008/2009, it serves the 60 home-sites in one of Whistler, B.C.’s wealthiest communities (lots start at $1.0 million, home not including).

A testament to the ski-in/ski-out lifestyle promise, the pulsed gondola transports residents from their doorsteps to the Whistler Creekside Village and the base of the Creekside gondola in 6 minutes flat – pretty useful to grab a pint in the village in case you didn’t want to call your chauffeur or get pulled over drinking and driving your Ferrari.

Astute readers will note that private gondolas are common in Europe and nothing to fret over. (You could even argue the people movers in airports and casinos are private ropeway transport.) Still, to us here in frozen old Canada, an exclusive gondola seems pretty special.

Aria Express (aka City Center Tram) is a bottom supported CPT system connecting the Bellagio and Monte Carlo casinos. Image from Wikipedia.

This got me thinking: do private gondolas have a role in society? Absolutely.

What implications could cost-effective private gondolas have for master planned communities around the world? Perhaps the future is one where governments pay for high-speed long distance trunk lines connecting different nodes while local developers pay for the internal circulators within.

Given the burgeoning income divide, great urban migration and increasingly broke governments, ropeways could behave like the entry points do now in privately owned, master-planned neighbourhoods.

We already see this today when it comes to roads.

Governments construct highways and major arterials while local developers pay for local roads in a development. Meanwhile, in dense urban environments, governments pay for transport infrastructure surrounding office and condo towers but don’t pay for internal public transit circulation within buildings.

That is, elevators — arguably the largest private public transit technology in the world, but so common, they’re rarely considered.

Should we be thinking about our public transit systems in a similar fashion? To do so, a low-cost and virtually on-demand system is essential. Subways and LRT are attractive but cost prohibitive to most private groups.

A lightweight and cost-effective gondola could fill this niche.

In fact, this trend seems to be already happening in many communities around the world. Developers in ski towns such as Breckenridge and Beaver Creek have already discovered the immense advantages of building gondolas around master planned communities.

Perhaps then it’s just a matter of time before others in the private sector catch onto the technology as cities did not too long ago.

10
Jul

2015

Weekly Roundup: La Paz Welcomes Pope; Germany to Build Tallest Cable Car Tower

Post by Nick Chu

A quick look at some of the things that happened this week in the world of urban gondolas, cable cars and cable propelled transit:

Pope in La Paz (Bolivia)
The entire country of Bolivia welcomes the Holy Father as he tours the country. To ensure security, it seems that the entire Red Line was closed for passenger transport for 10 minutes as his motorcade passed by underneath. *Correction, July 20, 2015: due to language barriers, we earlier reported that he rode the cable car which seems to be incorrect.

Germany’s Highest Peak Gets Cable Car (Bavaria, Germany)
By 2017, a 120 person cable car will connect Zugspitze, the highest mountain in Germany with an elevation of 2962m. The system will be 4.5km in length and have a capacity of 700 persons/hour. Perhaps most impressive is the fact that it will have just one record setting tower at 127m in height. The current record for the tallest cable car tower belongs to the Austrian cable car Gletscherbahn Kaprun at 113m.

Base to Base Gondola Update (Olympic Valley, California)
The Base to Base Gondola proposal was announced back in April 2015. Now project proponents have uploaded a new video asking for more community support. If built, the cable car will connect the two ski resorts of Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows.

09
Jul

2015

Photo of the Week: Teleférico do Funchal

Post by Nick Chu

Cable cars in the old town

About:

The Teleférico Funchal-Monte is a 3.2km-long tourist cable car on the lovely island of Madeira, Portugal. Passengers are whisked from the bottom station in Almirante Reis Garden (in historic Funchal) to the top one in Monte. There, they enjoy they magnificent views and can visit the various attractions including the Museum of Precious Stones, Church of Our Lady of the Mount and the Fountain of the Virgin.

Every Thursday, the Gondola Project team will select stunning captures of CPT lines. We hope this will continue to bring more attention to the technology and provide visually impactful examples of cable car systems worldwide. If you’d like to submit or nominate a picture for our “Photo of the Week”, we’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment below or send us an email at gondola@creativeurbanprojects.com.

06
Jul

2015

Why Doesn’t the Industry Keep Better Records?

Post by Nick Chu

Ropeway systems have continually demonstrated their ability to adapt to strange new environments. From the mighty rivers of rural China to the stacked vertical density of New York, it seems nothing is insurmountable.

No doubt this flexibility is a main reason why we see more and more of urban gondolas being proposed and built. And thanks to the Internet, we now can keep track of these developments as they come.

However, as we know, ropeways have been around for a long time and many old systems are now just being rediscovered today. Some of these older systems contain a wealth of lessons and best practices for us present-day transportation practitioners. Shouldn’t we be learning from them?

Image by Tino.

Cable Car in Wuhan, China. Notice anything interesting? Image by Tino.

Case in point, the urban cable car in Wuhan, China. It travels from a high-rise building, through and above dense urban form, crosses the Hanjiang River before terminating at the lush and picturesque Guishan Park.

Originally, we thought that the Singapore Cable Car was the only urban ropeway that travels from a tall building but as the picture shows this is obviously not the case.

Perhaps what’s even more unique is that this is the first example we’ve seen of an elevated and arching roadway tower. Aesthetically, the drab concrete architectural styling leaves much to be desired. However, the underlying concept is strong and functional advantages are unmistakable — the cable car tower is integrated into the urban form without the negatively impacting ground-level traffic.

If you look closely at the picture, you’ll notice that it is an excerpt from an old Doppelmayr report. Exactly why such a practical tower design is not mentioned and brought up more often is difficult to say. But we suspect that record keeping in the industry for urban gondolas in the past was minimal at best.

I’m almost certain we will find more of these nice little treats as we continue our journey on the Gondola Project. But perhaps this is a reminder of the importance and value of improving record-keeping for all those working in the cable car industry.

03
Jul

2015

Weekly Roundup: Prefab Wooden Cable Car Station; Paris and Kolkata May Study Urban Ropeway

Post by Nick Chu

Prefab Wooden Summit Station. Image from Treehugger.

A quick look at some of the things that happened this week in the world of urban gondolas, cable cars and cable propelled transit:

Cable Car Proposed to Solve Last Mile Problem at Large Railway Stations (Paris, France)
It’s only a 1km between Paris’s Gare de Lyon (90,000,000 annual passengers) and the Gare d’Austerlitz (30,000,000 annual passengers) two of the metropolis’s biggest train stations — about a 10-minute walk. But if you’re hurrying between stations in summer, hauling a heavy suitcase, that’s a very long 10 minutes. So city councillor Jean-Bernard Bros of the RPG has called for a cable car study. Station to station, this system would cross the Seine River and over Charles de Gaulle Bridge.

Kolkata to See Aerial Ropeway Transit? (Kolkata, India)
Think your local traffic is bad? No wonder a local Indian ropeway manufacturer is working on a proposal with officials for an aerial ropeway in two sectors of Kolkata: Sealdah to the BBD Bagh area and Howrah to the new state secretariat at Nabanna. The system will travel at speeds of 12.5km, have 8-10 person cabins with an hourly capacity of 2,000-2,500 and cost Rs 20 crore per km (~USD$3 million).

Prefab Wooden Cable Car Summit Station (Toggenburg, Switzerland)
The construction of a wooden summit station was complete after its cable car helped haul 3,600 tons of materials over 1,200 trips. Built to respect local traditions and designs, the new facility was installed to further develop culture-based tourism in the region.

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