Moscow’s Sparrow Hills / Luzhniki Stadium Cable Car to Open Soon

Post by Gondola Project

Sparrow Hills Cable Car travelling across Moskva River. Luzhniki Stadium, known as Russia’s national stadium, can be seen on the right. Screenshot from YouTube.

With the start of the 2018 World Cup today, it seems appropriate to take a sneak peek at an upcoming urban cable car which will soon connect passengers between one of the game’s central venues to one of Moscow’s most popular destinations.

The gondola system, known as the Sparrow Hills Cable Car (Russian: Канатная дорога на Воробьёвых горах) was originally scheduled to open before the start of the games but will not enter commercial service until the World Cup is over. This is unfortunate as Luzhniki Stadium will be hosting seven soccer matches, including the finals.

Nevertheless, once the system becomes operational, it will ease transport for visitors travelling between Luzhniki Stadium and Sparrow Hill. With the cable car, travel times between these two destinations will be reduced to five minutes — down from 15 minutes via car.

System undergoing the test phase in late May. Image by tjsuresh.

The 3-station gondola system is 737m in length and has been designed with a capacity of 1,600 pphpd (thirty five 8-passenger cabins). Luzhniki Stadium station is built as a two-storey terminal with ticketing facilities on the first floor and passenger boarding on the second floor. From this station, travellers head southwest to the Kosygina mid-station where they can one day rent sports equipment and visit a museum.

Finally, after another 300m ride, passengers will arrive at Sparrow Hills (Vorobyovy Gory). For those unfamiliar with Moscow, Sparrow Hill is one of the seven hills in the Russian capital and considered one of the city’s most scenic areas. Since the hill is 220m tall at its highest point, visitors will arrive at an observation platform with great views of the city. While the cable car is a seemingly new idea, the area was actually once connected by a chairlift which operated between 1953 to 2016.

The cable car will primarily serve a recreational function since it does not appear that the system will be fare-integrated with the city’s Troika transit card. However, reports suggest that the operator has the intention of one day integrating its payment system with Troika. Ticket prices are estimated at US$6-8 (400-500 rubles).

To enhance its appeal to visitors, the cable car will be designed with bike racks, have audio guides in multiple languages, and have two VIP cabins. Cabins will also be outfitted with LED lights to enhance aesthetics and passenger experience during night time operations.

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Eleven Kilometers of 3S Gondola Announced in Santo Domingo

Post by Gondola Project

A 11km cable car proposal was announced during a groundbreaking ceremony for the Intercity Cibao bus terminal. Image by PresidencyRD.

The capital of the Dominican Republic has revealed their plans to construct the city’s second urban gondola — the Santo Domingo West Cable Car (Spanish: Teleférico de Santo Domingo Oeste).

Unlike the city’s first Cable Propelled Transit (CPT) line — the Santo Domingo Cable Car (Spanish: Teleférico de Santo Domingo) — this new ropeway proposal would result in the construction of a massive 6-station 3S gondola which would span 11km (6.8mi) and connect three municipalities in the city’s westside (i.e. Los Alcarrizos, Santo Domingo Este and Distrito Nacional).

Effectively, the 3S urban ropeway adds to the recent flurry of transportation projects unveiled in Santo Domingo. Some readers might recall that the city’s current gondola was just inaugurated less than three weeks ago. While the first Santo Domingo Cable Car is an impressive system itself, measuring in at 5km (3.1mi)with 4-stations, the proposed 3S will more than double its length.

Officials informed the public that the six stations will be built at Puente Blanco, the Intercity Cibao transport terminal, Monumental Ave, Manoguayabo and Prolongación Ave, Kilometre 9 and Duarte Highway, and Herrera.

Route alignment for 6-station Santo Domingo West Cable Car delineated in teal while the 4-station Santo Domingo Cable Car is drawn in green. The 3S system is designed to connect to the Maria Montez Metro station on Line 2 (Orange Line) at the 3S’ Kilometre 9 station. Image from Listin Diario.

If the Dominican capital builds their tricable system, it would become the world’s longest 3S gondola — surpassing the current record-holder in Vietnam (7.9km Hon Thom 3S) by more than three kilometres (1.9mi)! Image from Sun World Hon Thom Nature Park.

In comparison to other publicly announced cable transit plans, the only other 3S proposal that would come even close to the size and scale of the Santo Domingo West Cable Car would be the 10km 3S gondola proposed in Istanbul. However, little information about this proposal has been available since it was first publicized in December 2015.

For those still learning the ropes, it’s important to note that 3S gondolas are considered the most advanced cable-driven systems today. With two track ropes and one propulsion rope, 3S gondolas have the highest capacities (up to 6,000 pphpd) and highest wind resistance (>100km/h).

Less than twenty 3S gondolas have been built to date though, with the majority of these systems functioning in ski resorts. As such, if the 11km Santo Domingo West Cable Car was successfully implemented, it could have a massive impact within the urban transport industry. Given the Dominican capital’s proximity to large American and Canadian cities, this 3S gondola could be a major demonstration system for North American transit planners.

Precise specifications for the system will be detailed as technical planning work commences. The President, however, announced that the cable car will be fully integrated with the rest of the city’s transit network and will cost less than US$0.50 (25 pesos). Officials hope that the cable car will benefit upwards of 400,000 residents by the time it opens in 2020.

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3S Gondola Being Planned to Connect Moscow Metro

Post by Gondola Project

The Russian capital is considering a 3S gondola, similar to that seen in Koblenz (pictured above). The proposal hopes to service two districts which are currently separated by the Khimki reservoir. Image by CUP.

At a recent economic forum in St. Petersburg, Russia, the deputy mayor of Moscow announced that the government is in the midst of planning an urban gondola 15km northwest of the city center. Project proponents are envisioning a 2.3km tricable detachable gondola (TDG/3S) which connects Skhodnenskaya Metro station (Line 7) to Rechnoy Vokzal Metro station (Line 2).

At this time, the Khimki reservoir (Moscow Canal) lies in the middle of the two Metro stations which makes travel between the stations incredibly challenging and time-consuming.

Basically this means it takes up to 45 minutes (10km) by road to travel between Yuzhnoye Tushino District (Skhodnenskaya station) and the Levoberezhny District (Rechnoy Vokzal station) despite the fact that the two areas are just separated by a few hundred meters of water.

Green route illustrates gondola alignment over the Khimki reservoir. Existing transport route via road transport is shown in the blue line. Screenshot from mu24.

With the proposed US$64 million (4 billion rubles) 3S gondola, the city hopes to cut travel times down to seven minutes for an estimated 19,000 daily passengers while reducing the amount of road congestion.

It appears that the system may be built under a Public Private Partnership (PPP) structure where the city is only involved in providing the land for construction. The private sector partner, meanwhile, will be responsible for building and operating the cable car over a 22 year concession. Officials hope to connect the gondola with the rest of Moscow’s transit fare payment system, Troika.

While urban gondolas are still a fairly new concept in modern Russia, Nizhny Novgorod (400km east of Moscow) has operated a river-crossing gondola since 2011 while an upcoming recreational cable car (Vorobyovy Gory to Luzhniki Stadium) is expected to begin commercial service this year in Moscow.

The city and its partners hope that they can open the 3S gondola between Skhodnenskaya station to Rechnoy Vokzal station within three years.

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Tokyo 2020 Olympics: Urban Gondola Set to Return to Yokohama

Post by Gondola Project

The proposed Yokohama gondola could look similar to the Lisbon Telecabine which is built alongside the Tagus river in the Park of the Nations district. Image by Nicholas Chu.

Proposals for a 2020 Tokyo Olympics urban gondola was first broached in April 2014 but little information on its alignment and location was available at that time.

This week however, Japan Times announced that a 600m cable transport line is now being planned in Yokohama which connects JR Sakuragicho Station to the Minato Mirai 21 district. If built, Tokyo will join London as the second city in recent memory to construct a gondola system in anticipation of a Summer Olympic games.

Proposed alignment. Image from Hamarepo.

It appears that the city’s Urban Development Bureau released a Request for Proposal in December last year which asked private firms to submit ideas to revitalize the waterfront. A total of ten proposals were submitted which included ideas for water taxis, open top buses and a longer aerial gondola system. However, upon review, city officials chose Senyo Kogyo Co (an amusement operator) to implement the gondola which is designed to travel at heights of up to 40m.

Gondola built in 1989 in Yokohama, Japan. Image from kanaloco.

Interestingly, while the idea of a cable lift might seem novel, the Japanese port city actually built a temporary cable lift back in 1989 as part of the Yokohama Exotic Showcase (YES’ 89).

While it is unclear if this proposal was inspired directly by the Emirates Cable Car in London, the Yokohama system does share some similarities with its English counterpart. This gondola hopes to attract visitors and improve connectivity while using the gondola as a catalyst to spark waterfront revitalization.

At the Mirai Mirao 21 station location, this area is considered the city’s central business district where a number of major attractions are currently operational (i.e. Cosmoworld amusement park, Landmark Tower skyscraper, Cup Noodles Museum and the Red Brick Warehouse shopping center).

If the system is designed well and learns from best practices of previous urban cable cars, the gondola could be a welcome addition and great complementary attraction in Yokohama as the city already attracts a staggering 36.3 million annual visitors.

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Urban Ropeway Maintenance: Portland Aerial Tram

Post by Gondola Project

Not so dissimilar to any transit system or piece of machinery, urban ropeways require regular upkeep to ensure that operations remain trouble-free.

A cable transport line’s maintenance regime will depend on a number of factors which include items related to technology choice, equipment, regulations/codes, number of operating hours and much more. To put it into perspective, readers can think of a ropeway like a car — there are standard service intervals.

Daily, weekly, monthly and yearly maintenance procedures related to the inspection of grips, cabins, towers and stations are all typically timed and conducted during low passenger traffic periods to reduce impact on travellers.

This year, starting on June 23, the Portland Aerial Tram, will undergo track rope maintenance where the system will be closed for five weeks. The YouTube video provides a great overview of the servicing and maintenance program that’s been planned for the aerial tram.

The scheduled maintenance session will help ensure that the system can continue to transport 10,000 passengers per day and operate with a reliability level of 99.98%!

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LEITNER Ropeways: 2017 Annual Report

Post by Advertorial Team

LEITNER has been producing ropeways since 1888 and is one of the world’s largest ropeway manufacturers. Images from LEITNER.

LEITNER ropeways continues to build on its success in 2017 by implementing 32 systems in 12 countries. Ropeways installed by LEITNER combine technological advancements and superior design techniques to produce cable lifts that contribute positively to both the touristic and urban environment.

Innovative products such as LEITNER’s DirectDrive and LeitControl are setting new industry standards while providing customers with state-of-the-art transport solutions.

New cabin and station designs are now possible thanks to a cooperation with Italian design studio, Pininfarina — the designer of Ferrari and Maserati sports cars. Overall, 2017 was marked by memorable system openings and strong outlooks to the future.

Upcoming Projects

Rendering of upcoming Jennerbahn. Image by LEITNER ropeways.

In Fall 2018, the world’s highest 3S gondola (3,821m), Zermatt Bergbahnen, will be opened to connect Klein Matterhorn. The new cable car will improve the ride experience and increase capacity to the glacier by 2,000 persons per hour. For urban mobility and tourist applications, four projects are underway. Be on the lookout for upcoming ropeways being implemented in Dharamsala (India), Sacheon (Korea), Trabzon (Turkey) and Tibidabo (Spain)!

Read more

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Should Urban Gondolas be Integrated into a Public Transit Network?

Post by Gondola Project

The world’s largest network of urban gondolas, Mi Teleférico, carries over 150,000 daily passengers but is only partially integrated with the city’s overall public transit network. Transfers to private vehicles and local buses (PumaKatari) require an extra fare. Image by Dan Lundberg.

In a recent article, a Swiss transportation planning professor from the University of Applied Sciences Rapperswil, suggested that to maximize its usefulness for passengers, urban gondolas should be fully integrated into a city’s transit network.

While Professor Büchel does not precisely describe what he meant by integration, it seems logical to think that he is advocating for full fare-integration. In other words, the development of a ticketing model where it does not cost riders an extra fare to transfer to and from a Cable Propelled Transit (CPT) system.

For most transit planners, this is a seemingly straightforward undertaking as full integration has the potential to ease and simplify the transportation experience for passengers — an incredibly important goal for any transit agency hoping to attract more riders. In fact, for the majority of public transport systems, applying this model is standard practice and non-controversial. However, when it comes implementing urban gondolas, whether or not they should or should not be integrated may not be as simple.

Unlike traditional transit systems and technologies (such as buses and rail) where a large percent of passengers are commuters, the unique aerial nature of a cable car ride means that they have the ability to attract a sizeable number of leisure riders.

Of the Portland Aerial Tram’s annual ridership of 2 million passengers, approximately 10% are non-commuters who pay a $4.70 roundtrip fare. Image by David Wilson.

This means that no matter how commuter-oriented an aerial ropeway is, there will always be a percent of passengers who will ride the system purely for the “joy of the journey itself“. And herein lies an often misunderstood and under-appreciated advantage that urban gondolas have over traditional transit technologies.

The novelty and attractiveness of panoramic views on an aerial gondola means that unique fare model opportunities will likely exist where higher tourist/leisure rider fares can be captured to help subsidize a local transit system.

A quick google search reveals that CPT lines are incredibly popular attractions in it of itself. TripAdvisor reviews indicate that systems such as the Portland Aerial Tram, Roosevelt Island Tram, Emirates Air Line Cable Car, and Medellin Metrocable are all frequented by visitors. Comparatively speaking, unless there was a unique ride experience, boarding a standard ground-based or underground vehicle (e.g. bus and rail) would hardly register as a “top thing to do”.

Hong Kong’s Ngong Ping 360 cable car allows locals to receive a 10% discount on regular fares (see bottom left hand corner). Recently, the cable car released a promotion where residents can board the system for free on their birthdays! Image by CUP.

Exactly how a transit agency can leverage tourist dollars to benefit locals should be carefully assessed to ensure that it is appropriate and acceptable in the local context. What may work in one city, may not be applicable in another.

Nevertheless, mass transit gondolas around the world are starting to realize their tourism potential. For instance, as mentioned earlier, Portland charges non-commuters a $4.70 roundtrip fare while La Paz will soon implement a “tourist circuit” where visitors receive headphones and other amenities to enhance revenue generation opportunities.

Ultimately, perhaps the question transport planners should ask, is not whether urban gondolas should be integrated into a public transit network — rather, how can transport planners better design CPT fare structures and programming so it can leverage tourist dollars that benefit local riders.


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