Urban Ropeway in Berlin Opens for IGA 2017

Post by Advertorial Team

IGA Ropeway. Image from LEITNER Ropeways.

After much anticipation, the urban gondola for Berlin’s 2017 International Garden Show (IGA 2017) has finally opened for passenger service on April 13, 2017. As the investor, builder and operator of the IGA 2017 gondola, LEITNER Ropeways played a pivotal role in helping implement Berlin’s first cable car in 60 years. 

With over 5,000 events spread out over 104 hectares, IGA 2017 will function as a platform for intercultural dialogue and innovation. The event is designed with a focus on green urban spaces and culture, making the gondola a perfect fit for the horticultural exhibition. 

Gondola technology not only has a low footprint on the environment, it offers near silent operations with 100% barrier-free access. Passengers aboard the ropeway’s 65 ten-person cabins soar to heights of 25-30m.  

The 1.5km system is built over three stations, with a connection to the City’s “Kienberg-Gärten der Welt”  subway station. From here, passengers are flown across the exhibition grounds to the top of Kienberg (102m) near the “Wolkenhain” observation platform. Visitors can disembark at the intermediate station or they can remain onboard as the cable car continues to travel through to the exhibition’s central area.  

With a capacity of 3,000 pphpd, the estimated 2 million visitors to IGA 2017 will have stress-free, and convenient transport throughout the site. After six months, the exhibition will come to an end on October 15, 2017. However, the urban cable car will continue to operate as a vital transit and tourist link for locals and visitors alike. 

The system will provide a quick and sustainable 4.5 minute aerial ride to the subway for residents living in the Marzahn and Hellersdorf districts. The Berlin cable car is another example of LEITNER Ropeways growing presence in the urban transport market. To learn more about the urban gondola and LEITNER Ropeways, please click here.

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Kobe Nunobiki Ropeway, Part 3: Pursuit of Perfection

Post by Nick Chu

Kobe Nunobiki Ropeway.

Kobe Nunobiki Ropeway.

Last month, I rode the Kobe Nunobiki Ropeway in Kobe, Japan. In part 3 of the photo essay, some of the ropeway’s design choices are explored and summarized. Click here for part 1 (Intro) and part 2 (Herb Gardens).

For city planners learning about cable transportation, there are a number of important lessons to take home from the Kobe Nunobiki Ropeway. Even though it doesn’t set any world records for being the biggest, longest or tallest, the ropeway is still considered one Japan’s premiere cable systems. 

As mentioned previously in parts 1 and 2, attention to detail to the entire customer experience is one of the attraction’s most outstanding features. 

As I began to learn more about Japanese culture, there appears to be several underlying philosophies that guides these design choices: Kodawari [こだわり] and/or Kaizen [改善]. Translated loosely, Kodawari is, “an uncompromising and relentless devotion to a pursuit, an art, a craft, an activity… when special consideration and attention is given to something,” while Kaizen is, “the practice of continuous improvement”.

Personally, I like to think of these ideologies as a pursuit of perfection. While some designers in other gondola systems might overlook small details, this is certainly not the case for the Kobe Nunobiki Ropeway. Some of these “finer points” that could form best practices for other urban gondolas are summarized below. 

Information boards

Insightful information displays are shown as passengers disembark the gondola.

Information boards: A series of colourful visuals are displayed along entire length of the queue and exit line. In turn, this helps maximize the utility of what is generally underutilized or dead space for other urban gondolas. In essence, passengers are now able to not only learn more about the site’s offerings but the ropeway is able to market its products and services in a pleasant and non-intrusive manner. Inside the cabin (not pictured), information pamphlets are available to describe nearby attractions.

Cabin and tower colour choice.

Sensitive colour choices.

Colour and Design: The ropeway’s towers are painted in a brownish shade to help the system blend into the surrounding foliage, thereby minimizing visual intrusion. Furthermore, the updated red cabins (completed in 2011) provide the system with a more modernized styling to match the site’s new branding. Within stations, the interiors feel bright and spacious thanks to a partially glassed roof that allows sunlight to penetrate into the platform area


Warm blankets.

Blankets: Warm, colourful and clean cotton blankets are neatly folded and placed in cabins for passenger use during cooler seasons. Compared to costly heating design interventions, this is an ingenious and simple solution for unheated cabins. While this is not necessary, this small gesture helps enhance the overall passenger experience. 

Clean cabins

Spotless cabins.

Cleanliness: The entire ropeway system, including site grounds were maintained to a very high level of cleanliness. Everything inside the cabin (windows, fabric seating, etc.) was in tip top condition and shown almost no visible sign of wear and tear. I can’t stress this enough, but being able to appreciate the surrounding beauty and take photos without smudged/scratched windowpanes greatly enhances overall ride experience.

Outside the glasshouse, visitors can soak their tired feet in the Herb Garden's herbal footbath.

Free herbal foot baths!

Varied site offerings: Visitor offerings are constantly adjusted to match an ambience and/or theme during particular time/season. For instance, different flower varieties are available for different seasons while nighttime gondola tickets are available for purchase during busier summer visitation periods. Such varied offerings can encourage repeat visitation and widens the site’s appeal to a greater market. Small rewards such as a free herbal foot bath and scent samplers are available for those exploring the herb gardens. 

Varied site offerings

Top station area and adjacent European themed buildings upgraded in 2011.

Modernization: After 20 years in operations, the replacement of aging equipment and facilities has reinvigorated the site. In turn, its appeal to local and international has been enhanced as it is currently ranked as one of the top attractions in Kobe. In recent years, improved marketing campaigns and a renewed focus to increasing customer satisfaction has resulted in visitor numbers growing by 20%. 

— — — 

Given my brief time there, I am certain there are many intelligent design choices that I have missed. The list above merely presents some of outstanding items that I personally witnessed during my site visit and is not meant to be comprehensive by any means.

In a nutshell, the Kobe Nunobiki Ropeway is a fantastic example of how gondola technology can be sensitively implemented to improve sightseeing and leisure opportunities in a city. Cities seeking to build their own urban gondolas would be astute to incorporate design ideas developed by the Kobe Nunobiki Ropeway into their own systems. 






Photo and Video of the Week: Flying Through Ecatepec on Mexicable

Post by Gondola Project


Soluciones en el cielo. #Mexicable #Ecatepec #Edomextagram

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Kobe Nunobiki Ropeway, Part 2: Herb Gardens and Urban Recreation

Post by Nick Chu

Kobe Nunobiki Ropeway.

Kobe Nunobiki Ropeway.

Last month, I rode the Kobe Nunobiki Ropeway in Kobe, Japan. In part 2 of the photo essay, we will explore some of the ropeway’s main attractions and discuss some potential lessons for urban planners. Click here for part 1


From the site tour, it became quite clear that the herbs garden and ropeway has a symbiotic relationship — neither one can exist optimally without one or the other.

To gain a better understanding of the site, the herb garden provides visitors with an array of promotional materials which highlights its main amenities and offerings.

Promotional items and pamphlets providing visitors with information about the site's many features and products.

Spring Edition of the Herb Gardens and Ropeway guide places a heavy emphasis on fresh, seasonal offerings as well as events that celebrate the coming of spring. Thanks to the highly visual in nature of these brochures, it even helps non-Japanese readers understand the site offerings.

The ropeway is a year round attraction, offering visitors with opportunities to see different types of flora during different seasons.

Panning through the brochures, it becomes clear that the herb gardens and ropeway is designed to be a year round attraction. During spring, cherry blossoms are the site’s top attraction while different flowers and herbs are available for viewing during other seasons. Seasonal festivals and events are also held year round to encourage repeat visitation and diversify site offerings.

The site map clearly marks all the main attractions in the Herb Gardens. Note that there is a simple, but highly informative "flowering schedule" beneath the map. This helps inform visitors the approximate dates on which flowers they may wish to view.

3-D map clearly marks all the main attractions in the Herb Gardens. Note that there is a simple, but highly informative “flowering schedule” beneath the map. This tells visitors the dates in which different flowers are available for viewing.



Once visitors disembark from the gondola, they are essentially dropped off in a serene hilltop Japanese-style garden built in an European-themed village. For international visitors, it may seem a little strange to see Bavarian-style buildings in the middle of Japan.

However, it’s important to remember that Kobe was one of the first entry points for Westerners in the 1800s. As a result, the City has a fine collection of ijinkan, or foreigners’ homes where they’ve become popular attractions for domestic tourists. Apparently, a popular saying amongst locals is, “If you can’t go to Paris, go to Kobe.” 

From general observations, the herb gardens were meticulously maintained (full site renovations in 2011 also helped refurbish existing buildings). While I didn’t visit when the flowers and cherry blossoms were in full bloom, the site was still beautifully curated with many opportunities for sightseeing and enjoyment. With 12 gardens, 75,000 herbs and 200 kinds of flowers, there were pleasant surprises around almost every corner.

Herb Gardens, top station.

Beautifully designed herb gardens inspired by Kobe’s ties to Europe and its fashionable/cosmopolitan vibe.

City skyline, Port Island, and Osaka Bay can be seen from the viewing deck.

City skyline, Port Island, and Osaka Bay can be seen from the observation viewing deck. I’ve been told that Kobe is equally impressive at night from this location. In fact, locals have coined it the “Ten Million Dollar Night View”.

Rest house, restaurants and gift shops keep guests entertained.

Rest house, flowers, restaurants and gift shops keep guests entertained. As night falls, the buildings are illuminated in the ropeway’s “Forest of Illuminations” event, providing a picturesque backdrop against the city lights.

Central flower bed provides beautiful backdrop for photos.

Attractive flower beds provides visitors with many photo opportunities. To the far right, a new German themed eatery was being built to expand the site’s food offerings.

Plentiful seating available.

Plentiful shaded outdoor seating available. Perfect place to hang out during warm, sunny days.

A wide range of flowers and plants are available for purchase.

A wide range of flowers and plants are available for purchase.

Guests sample the many different herb and flower scents.

Guests immerse themselves in an endless assortment of herb and flower scents.

Concert hall provides venue space for musicians, performances, and lectures.

Concert hall is a popular venue space for musicians, performances, and lectures — especially for piano recitals.  

A delicious salad buffet, pasta, and fish with was served during my visit. The restaurant is designed with large windows, allowing visitors to enjoy the natural surroundings and take in views of nature in the comfort of a climate controlled setting.

Next to the concert hall, a full service restaurant with a salad buffet is offered. Note the restaurant is designed with large windows, allowing visitors to enjoy and take in views of nature in the comfort of a climate controlled setting. This is a great place to relax and rest before trekking to the gardens below.

After a quick lunch, we made our way down to the many gardens at the site.

After a quick lunch, we made our way down to the main gardens.

Assortment of plants and flowers showcased at the Herb Gardens.

Assortment of plants and flowers showcased.

Ropeway system glides silently overhead as visitors enjoy the site and scents of the gardens.

Ropeway system gently glides overhead as visitors leisurely stroll between gardens.

Making our way to the glasshouse.

Making our way to the glasshouse/greenhouse.


Inside the greenhouse, many hanging baskets of plants and flowers were all presented in an attractive fashion. Fruits and flower varieties of fuchsia, hibiscus, bananas, guavas and papayas are available for viewing year round.

Outside the glasshouse, visitors can soak their tired feet in the Herb Garden's herbal footbath.

Outside the glasshouse, visitors can soak their feet in a free herbal footbath. A nice little perk, not to mention a perfect way for hikers to relax before they continue their journey down the hill.

Ropeway continues to quietly glides above garden space — almost becoming invisible to guests as they enjoy the site's scents and flower arrangements.

Ropeway continues to glide peacefully above garden and park space.


The leisurely and rhythmic pace of the gondola cabins helps animate the garden space.

During my time, only one cherry blossom tree was blooming. I can only imagine how much more beautiful the ropeway ride and gardens would have been if everything was blooming.

Even though spring did not fully arrive during my visit, I was lucky enough to see one blossoming sakura tree. Once spring kicks into high gear, visitors can participate in a Japanese custom called hanami. This is where friends and family gather under sakura trees to hang out and appreciate the surrounding beauty of nature.

Ropeway travels nearby the Kaze no Oka Flower Garden. Benches are strategically placed for weary visitors coming down the hill and gardens.

The ropeway travels nearby Kaze no Oka Flower Garden. Benches are located on top of the small hill to allow visitors to rest as they trek down from the hill and gardens.

Kaze no Oka station from outside.

After a leisurely stroll, we arrive at the mid-station (Kaze no Oka station). For most visitors, once they reach this location, they board the gondola and travel back to the bottom station. For more adventurous visitors, the bottom can also be accessed via a short hike through the park.

Similar to the other stations, the mid-station is bright and airy. Green plants are placed nearby to as accents.

Similar to the other stations, the mid-station is bright and airy. Plants are placed throughout the station as accent pieces to improve the aesthetics.


From an urban planning perspective, the Kobe Nunobiki Ropeway and Herb Gardens can be viewed as an integrated city attraction which improves citizen access to leisure, relaxation and greenspace. While we at the Gondola Project generally focused on urban transit ropeways in the past, it is important not to forget the importance and impact of urban recreational ropeways.

As cities continue to grow worldwide, the demand for greater access to greenspace is inevitable. Providing opportunities to both work and play is critical to the overall health of its citizens. As such, leisure-oriented gondolas built in urban areas can play a vital role in fulfilling the recreational needs of both locals and tourists.

Since the Rokko Mountain’s first cable car was first opened nearly 100 years ago, civic leaders in Kobe clearly understood the importance of providing accessible and affordable recreation for its inhabitants. The Kobe Nunobiki Ropeway and Herb Gardens simply builds upon the City’s proud history of building recreational ropeways.

As an urban planner (and tourist), I loved how the attraction was packaged so it appeals to a diverse range of users. For instance, extensive hiking trails and the option of a one-way fare allows fitness-minded visitors to ride the gondola to the top and hike their way down. Or if visitors are feeling particularly adventurous that day, they are able to hike up and down the trails.

Meanwhile, for leisurely-minded folks and mobility-impaired individuals, the ropeway provides a convenient, scenic and affordable means of accessing greenspace in a environmentally-sensitive and non-intrusive way.

Ultimately with these site tours, our hope is that we can raise awareness and educate netizens about the many under-appreciated urban ropeways around the world. From this, hopefully we can share and learn how cities have been able to carefully balance the need for recreation and conservation.

In part 3, we’ll summarize our visit and discuss how some important best practices found in the Kobe Nunobiki Ropeway could be applied to other urban recreational gondolas.



A Response to Streetsblog’s Gondolamania

Post by Steven Dale

With a title inspired by—one can only assume—this month’s WWE Wrestlemania spectacular, Streetsblog writer Angie Schmitt recently let fly an invective against all things gondola. The piece, titled “Enough with the Gondolamania Already” is the kind of fact-free op-ed column one expects from a lesser publication than Streetsblog. It’s the kind of piece that’s meant to provoke simply for the sake of provocation. It appears to exist for little reason other than to act as a counter-point to the growing interest in urban gondolas throughout the world. 
That, in itself, wouldn’t be a problem. 
I’d love to see a well-researched, reasoned and thought-out opinion piece on why American cities should stop exploring cable-propelled transit. That would be interesting, challenging and altogether thought-provoking. Unfortunately, Schmitt’s piece isn’t that. 
Schmitt’s column is a visceral repudiation of urban gondolas supported by three thin-as-wet-kleenex premises: That gondolas are only for complex topography, are a distraction from bigger transit problems and rarely get realized. 
Schmitt begins her piece by citing how interest in the technology may have been spurred by the “tremendous success” of Medellin’s Metrocable system. This is not controversial. While cable cars in urban environments predate Medellin, that city’s network of cable cars is generally seen as the urban inflection point for the cable-propelled transit industry. 
What is, however, controversial is her implication that the success of Medellin’s Metrocable is “an unusual case where gondolas make a certain amount of sense because of the city’s tricky geography.” In American cities, she states, they are nothing more than “a distraction from bigger problems.”
Schmitt makes two critical errors in thinking here: 
Firstly, by discounting cable car technology’s potential role in solving bigger transit problems, she subtly equates the technology as being useful in areas of difficult topography with being not useful in areas of simple topography. And yet the two things have nothing to do with one another. 
Just because a cable car is capable in challenging topography does not mean it is incapable in undemanding topography. By way of analogy — if a 4-wheel-drive Range Rover is capable in off-road safari environments, does that make it incapable in urban streetscapes? 

(Image via flickr user Dave Connor)

Secondly, while it isn’t entirely clear what Schmitt is referring to when using the phrase “tricky geography,” one can presume she is talking about the natural environment and topography by way of her reference to Medellin’s “mountainous landscape” in her preceding sentence. 
Yet this is a misunderstanding of what geography and topography is.
Topography is not just the natural landscape, but the man-made built urban environment as well. And remember — man-made topographical complexity includes such things as stop lights and rush hour traffic. I would argue that man-made topography is far more challenging than natural topography. It moves, it changes, it adapts. Mountains, meanwhile, stay put. 
In our work over the years this is something we see people repeatedly misunderstand about Medellin. The Metrocables were not just about the mountains. They were as much about navigating complex man-made topographical challenges as they were about ascending hillsides. 
Linea K (Medellin’s first Metrocable system which is emblematic of its other systems), for example, is only 2 kilometres long and acts as a feeder into the wider transportation network. The difference in elevation from top to bottom station is only 400m – hardly mountainous. In fact, the difference in elevation is less than the the difference in elevation between Los Angeles’ Venice Beach and some of the more developed areas of nearby Bel Air. 
We ain’t talking about K2 here, folks. 
Granted, in the Linea K context, the degree of inclination is an average of 20%. While this is a degree of inclination that no self-propelled rail technology could handle, it is an inclination that is easily handled by buses, particularly given Medellin’s favourable climate. 
What the buses could not easily handle, however, was the complex arrangement of man-made streets, buildings and all of the traffic those things cause. This, in combination with the natural topography was the real motivation behind the Metrocables. In past interviews with the designers of the system I’ve had, some even stated that it was the man-made complexities that presented more of a challenge than the natural ones. 
And man-made topographical complexities exist in every city on earth. 
Yes, the number and degree of man-made topographical complexities varies from city-to-city, but they all exist on a continuum — and that continuum applies to all cities. There is not a single transit technology or system in the world that does not have to contend with man-made topographical complexity, full-stop. 
When Schmitt discounts a cable car’s capabilities as something only appropriate to natural topographical features, she entirely ignores its capabilities at navigating man-made topography as well. And while I don’t wish to get into any modal comparisons here, it’s useful to point out that a cable car’s ability to operate without regard to man-made topography is matched only by under-or-aboveground railroads but at a fraction of the price. 
The author’s erroneous perspective basically boils down to oh sure, if the mountains are a problem, then yes, of course — of course, I know that! — gondolas, but otherwise this isn’t serious transit for cities without hills. 
Schmitt’s second premise is that gondolas are a distraction from bigger transit problems. 
The appropriate response then, is this: How does one define a transit problem? Seriously. That isn’t a rhetorical device, it’s an honest question. And who arbitrates on the matter of the problem’s scale and size? 
More problematic is Schmitt’s contention that gondolas as a whole are a distraction from bigger transit problems. It’s as ridiculous a statement as saying that steaks have served mainly as a distraction from world hunger. One has nothing to do with the other. 
Were Schmitt to have opened debate about specific gondola proposals in specific cities with specific transit problems that would be a different story altogether. Let’s debate the respective (de)merits of the various proposals across the continent. Let’s see which ones are good, which ones are bad and which ones are, indeed, a distraction from bigger problems.
But shouldn’t that level of discourse exist with all transit proposals, instead of just gondolas? Are there not streetcar, light rail, driverless car and subway proposals that are as much, if not more of a distraction from so-called bigger problems? In Schmitt’s world it would seem so. 
Schmitt paints the entirety of cable car technology as a distraction by cherry-picking a handful of ill-conceived proposals. That’s disingenuous at best. That’s like saying streetcars as a whole are a distraction from bigger transit problems because Cincinnati’s Bell Connector is experiencing ridership that’s short of its target by almost 50%.
What these “bigger transit problems” are is never defined. Following on that — once one defines a transit problem, how does one go about solving it? 
Generally, transit problems are solved by way of some technology — whether that be bus, light rail, streetcar, subway, bike share, gondola, skateboard or whatever. Even pedestrian transit solutions require technology. Shoes, sidewalks, crosswalks and the like are all technological solutions we’ve developed over the centuries to solve the most basic need of getting people from here to there. 
Schmitt’s comment that gondolas “have mainly served as a distraction from bigger problems facing urban transit systems” implicitly excludes gondola technology from being in a position to actively help solve those bigger problems. By discounting an entire technological category before even defining what the transit problem is speaks to a modal bias on Schmitt’s part that most transit agencies got over a generation ago. 
If Schmitt thinks the dozen or so urban gondola proposals in North America that are meandering through various stages of analysis and planning are distracting from bigger transit problems, she’s giving urban gondolas far too much credit for their ability to garner people’s attention. Maybe she’s right. But if so, perhaps it’s because these systems are successful. 
The idea that gondolas have mainly served as a distraction is insulting to the millions of riders who utilize the Roosevelt Island Tram, Portland Aerial Tram and Telluride Gondola as a means of public transit every day. Those cable car systems aren’t distractions to those commuters, they are an essential link in their daily commute. It’s also insulting to the dozen or so systems operating around the world as public transportation that move hundreds of thousands of people a day. Are those a distraction as well? Or are they successful case histories that transit agencies are increasingly looking at so as to address their bigger transit problems in a different light? 
In La Paz, Bolivia, their urban gondola network moves an average of 60,000 riders per day. It transports more people per day than 72% of all Light Rail/Streetcar systems in the US. It has a 0% operating subsidy. 
I want to repeat that — Zero. Percent. Subsidy.  
According to the Portland Aerial Tram’s website, daily ridership of their system is around 10,000. This system is only 1km long and requires an additional fare to use unless you are a student, staff or patient of the Oregon Health & Science University. That ridership number, meanwhile, is higher than all three individual Portland Streetcar lines and 75% of their combined total ridership.
New York’s Roosevelt Island Tram is the only economically self-sufficient part of the entire MTA network and moves 2.4 million riders per year. 
And then there’s Medellin which Schmitt herself calls a “tremendous success.” 
These aren’t distractions. They are inspirations. 
If we define gondolas (or any cable car for that matter) as a transit technology, then they are not a distraction to a transit problem; they are a potential solution. No different from subways, buses and light rail systems. The fact that they are being studied in much the same way as standard transit technologies is a cause for regard not scorn. 
Finally, Schmitt implies that we shouldn’t be studying gondolas because most gondolas don’t get built. Why bother, in other words.
She makes this point by beginning her column with an image of Austin’s Wire One proposal, captioned with the phrase “like almost all gondola proposals, this one for Austin, Texas, will never get built.” Okay. Fine and basically true. As was reported widely last month, that proposal is unlikely to move forward any further
Schmitt carefully phrases this in a way that it is 100% factual but leads the reader in a direction so as to believe that the fact that the majority of gondola proposals will never get built is somehow intrinsic to the technology. We saw this tactic used before in the case of the Sydney monorail and careful readers shouldn’t get fooled by the author’s attempt to reframe issues that are extrinsic to cable cars into intrinsic features of the technology.
Alternatively, Schmitt could’ve also easily written . . . 
“Like almost all public transit proposals, this one will never get built”
– or –
“Like almost all real estate development proposals, this one will never get developed.”
– or – 
“Like almost all screenplays, this one will never get produced.”
. . . and she would’ve been completely right. But transit still gets built, real estate still gets developed and screenplays still get produced.
Failure is the default of all human endeavours and yet we endeavour still. 
That the majority of gondolas do not get built is not intrinsic to cable car technology but is instead intrinsic to almost all urban infrastructure and development. You’d think someone who’d been writing for Streetsblog for six years would understand that distinction, but apparently not. 
The Western, Developed Nation model of urban planning is largely and generally built upon the following process:
1. Generate an idea
2. Convert that idea into a proposal
3. Test that proposal through research
4. Use that research to gain buy-in and approvals
5. Leverage those approvals to attract financing
6. Deploy that financing to build the project 
The majority of developments, pieces of infrastructure or transit projects will never make it past the first few stages of analysis. Yet we still have to study them because that’s how things get built in our world. Do we study too much and build too little? Perhaps, but that’s an entirely separate discussion for another time. 
And even when infrastructure projects do eventually break through and actually get built, a large minority of them won’t even see the results that were originally envisioned. Ridership will fall short, square footage will go unrented and costs will be higher than planned. That’s just the way it is. 
Urban infrastructure is like a professional baseball player — you can fail 70% of the time and still wind up in the Hall of Fame. 
Are the odds against you? Of course they are. But that doesn’t mean you don’t try. Our entire civilization was built on that mindset and I see no reason to stop thinking that way when it comes to gondolas or any other technological innovation. 
Ending her piece, Schmitt states that “too many cities are wasting too much time and money on gimmicky distractions instead of the meat and potatoes of running a functional transit system.”
Without a single hint of self-awareness, Schmitt then immediately follows her conclusion with a link to a report on “a new bus line that didn’t deliver what riders in Mount Rainier, Maryland were hoping for.”
Apparently Ms. Schmitt’s understanding of urban gondolas is roughly equivalent to her understanding of irony and editorial juxtaposition. 


FATZER Produces 5.56 Million Meters of Steel Wire

Post by Advertorial Team

Image by FATZER.

Image by FATZER.

As the world leader in the production of high performance passenger ropeway cables, the record-setting Zugspitze / Eibsee Ropeway in Germany has chosen to place its trust in FATZER. The Swiss company, located in Romanshorn, has a global reputation for delivering reliable, safe, and high quality products. 

To help the Zugspitze / Eibsee Ropeway reach Germany’s highest peak, six massive spools of steel rope were produced. Four full lock-coil track cables measuring in at 4,900m in length and 72mm in diameter were manufactured. In addition, two haul/propulsion cables measuring in at 4,610m in length, and 47mm and 41mm in diameter were also fabricated. For the entire project, 5.56 million meters of 1.85mm-4.22mm steel wires were twisted.

Designed with maximum safety and reliability in mind, each track cable was built with a nominal breaking strength of 6’772 kN, or 690 metric tons. And thanks to the installation of INTEGRA-DATA track ropes which integrate data transfer capabilities, the mountain and base stations can now communicate effectively with each other for decades to come. 

Given the enormous weight of each rope (153 tons), the static load was not suitable for some bridges and roadways via standard delivery methods. As such, FATZER worked closely with transporters to engineer a special logistical solution whereby the steel cables were distributed and transported over two carrying loads.

To learn more about FATZER, please click here

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Kobe Nunobiki Ropeway, Part 1: Background and Gondola

Post by Nick Chu


Last March, I had the opportunity to visit the Japanese port city of Kobe, Japan and tour its most modern cable car, the Kobe Nunobiki Ropeway.

Last March, I had the opportunity to make a side trip to the Japanese port city of Kobe. During my time there, I was lucky enough to spend half a day touring the city’s most popular recreational cable car, the Kobe Nunobiki Ropeway. In this first blog post, I will provide a background of the system.


The Kobe Nunobiki Ropeway and Herb Gardens is one of Kobe, Japan’s preeminent attractions — ranking as TripAdvisor’s top “Thing to Do” in the city. Thanks to its accessible location, charming setting, and integrated visitor experience, the urban cable car continues to attract thousands of visitors each day despite being more than 25 years old.

For those unfamiliar with the City, Kobe is positioned between the Rokko mountain chains and Osaka Bay and is considered a modern Japanese metropolis known for its cosmopolitan vibe. While the City proper only has a population of 1.5 million residents, Kobe is part of the much larger metropolitan region known as Keihanshin which encompass the cities of Kobe, Kyoto and Osaka. This area represents 15% of the country’s population (19 million) and is Japan’s second most populated region after the Greater Tokyo Area.

Keihanshin Metropolitan Region. Image from Japan Talk.

Keihanshin Metropolitan Region. Image from Japan Talk.

Given its strategic location by the water, Kobe was one of the first Japanese port cities to open up to foreign trade in 1800s and remains a strong hub for trade and commerce today. For tourists, the city is well-known for a number of attractions including its legendary Kobe beef, Arima Onsen hot springs, “exotic” western styled buildings, and fashion.

Throughout this photo essay, many of these themes may reappear as we tour the Kobe Nunobiki Ropeway.

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