03
Aug

2018

La Paz Opens 7th Urban Gondola, 8th Line To Open in September

Post by Gondola Project

Sky Blue Line began commercial service on July 14th. Image from Mi Teleferico.

Construction works for the world’s largest urban gondola network in La Paz, Bolivia continues to take place at record speeds. Large celebrations took over its street when the president, Evo Morales, was on hand to inaugurate Mi Teleferico’s 7th urban gondola, the Sky Blue Line (Spanish: Línea Celeste), on July 14th.

The 2.6km Sky Blue Line has been designed with 4-stations which helps connect the City’s south zone (Spanish: zona Sur) to the downtown area (Spanish: centro paceño). Along the route, the cable car travels by a number of obstacles/features including a sports field, a ravine, under three iconic bridges (e.g. Trillizos bridge, América bridge and the Gemelo bridge), an open air theatre and even under the existing White Line gondola.

With a maximum speed of 6m/s, end to end travel times will be just 11.8 minutes while maximum capacities will be 4,000 passengers per hour per direction (pphpd). As a comparison, this is equivalent to more than 70 buses every hour!

You might note that the Sky Blue Line is the first of two urban gondola lines in La Paz to open with higher performance capabilities. It’s maximum speeds and line capacity are 20% and 33% higher than the speeds and capacities seen on the six previous lines. In fact, at 4,000 pphpd, the Sky Blue Line will be the first pure public transit MDG system to be designed with such a large capacity. The vast majority of MDGs built in the past typically peaked at around 3,000 pphpd.

Ultimately, greater performance standards will be useful as the Sky Blue Line is connected to three other urban gondola lines (e.g. White Line, Green Line, and Yellow Line).

Evo Morales (Bolivian president) and Cesar Dockweiler (GM of Mi Teleferico) were amongst the first riders of the Sky Blue Line. Image from Los Tiempos.

Sky Blue Line. Image from Mi Teleférico.

As part of the opening remarks, Morales emphatically called the newest cable car, “a dream of the people of La Paz”. Arguably, this statement isn’t really that far from the truth as the Sky Blue system was built in just 366 days!

The entire Mi Teleferico network as a whole is equally as impressive as it has now logged in more than 135 million passengers since the first gondola line opened in 2014. To put that into perspective, this ridership figure is more than 13 times the entire population of Bolivia!

Master plan for all 11 urban gondola lines. Image from Mi Teleferico.

Shortly after the 7th urban gondola opened, officials announced that the Purple Line (Spanish: Línea Morada) will begin commercial service in the first half of September. Similar to the Sky Blue Line, the Purple Line will also operate with higher system speeds and capacities than that were seen on the previous six lines. Effectively, this means that passengers will be able to travel from 6 de Marzo station to Obelisco station in just 16.8 minutes.

As construction is nearing completion, the system is now undergoing test operations.

Purple Line cabins are still being covered by protective wrapping. Image from Pagina Siete.

It’s a little hard to believe at first, but the entire Mi Teleférico master plan is coming together beautifully. By September, more than 70% of the system will be opened with only three lines left to complete (i.e. Brown Line, Silver Line and Gold Line). Urban gondola followers won’t have to wait long as the whole network should be fully built by 2020!

 

 

 



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25
Jul

2018

Media Sensationalism and Gondolas – The Case of Melbourne’s Skyloop Cable Car

Post by Gondola Project

AMMI Station is the Melbourne Skyloop cable car’s eastern terminus. With a 3,000 space parking garage, it is designed for commuters to park-and-ride. Image by Caulfield Krivanek Architecture.

In recent gondola news, reports coming from Down Under suggested that a local architect had proposed a US$525 million (AUD$700 million) cable car project for Melbourne’s downtown.

This astronomical number naturally grabbed our attention since half billion dollar transport projects are often associated with major underground subway lines and bridges rather than lightweight ropeway systems. After all, the world’s longest 3S cable car and one of the most expensive ever built — the 7.9km Hon Thom gondola system — was implemented for an estimated US$225 million.

From what we can gather online at the time, the Melbourne system would be designed with standard MDG technology — at a modest length of 2.5km, 4 stations and 1 custom tower. In other words, this would be a fairly standard urban cable car project which should never cost anywhere close to half a billion dollars. Our gut instinct was that someone out there, whether intentionally or not, must have misreported the project.

So to try to get to the bottom of this we decided to contact Robert Caulfield, the proponent behind the proposal.

The Melbourne Skyloop proposal would connect four major nodes throughout the sports precinct and CBD. Image by Caulfield Krivanek Architecture.

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06
Jul

2018

Hanoi’s Red River Gondola Proposal

Post by Gondola Project

Mr. Ngo Manh Tuan, Deputy Director of the Hanoi Department of Transportation wants to carefully assess and evaluate the gondola concept that was submitted this week. Image by elevonic.

The Vietnamese capital of Hanoi has received a proposal to build an urban gondola across the Red River. Based on articles found online (Vietnam Biz, VTN and Moi Truong), the ropeway system is apparently 5km (3mi) in length and is designed to transport 3,500-4,500 persons per hour per direction onboard a fleet of 25/30-passenger cabins. While the technology was not mentioned, the proposed system may likely use 3S technology given the cabin capacities stated and the potential spans required.

The current concept is to have a ropeway travel over the Red River at heights of 50-100m (160-320ft) while connecting Long Bien Bus Station to Gia Lam Bus Station. Proponents hope that the cable car will relieve traffic congestion and reduce cross-river travel times.

The gondola could be a welcome addition to Hanoi as its rapid transit network is highly underdeveloped for a city with 7.5 million residents. At this time, the capital has zero subway lines (the first urban rail line won’t begin trial operations until August) and its public transit network is merely composed of 100 bus routes. Many, if not most, residents still rely upon the city’s five million motorbikes for daily transport.

The motorbikes can be an efficient (and thrilling) way to move about the city, but officials are hoping to ban their use by 2030 in order to reduce environmental and traffic congestion problems. As such, an urban ropeway with its electric propulsion systems and small footprint, could potentially reduce gridlock, lower greenhouse gas emissions, and provide commuters with an alternative mode of transport.

While cable transit solutions have yet to be implemented in Vietnamese cities, the country is already home to some of the world’s most technologically advanced ropeways. In total, the country holds multiple world records which include:

  1. Longest 3S cable car: Hon Thom-Phu Quoc Cable Car at 7.9km
  2. Second longest 3S cable car: Fansipan Legend at 6.3km
  3. Longest continuous MDG: Bana Hills Cable Car at 5.8km
  4. Largest ropeway cabin: Queen Cable Car at 230 persons
  5. Tallest ropeway tower: Queen Cable Car at 188.8m

Vietnam features some of the globe’s most impressive aerial ropeways. These include the Hon Thom 3S (top left), Fansipan Legend (top right), Bana Hills MDG (bottom left) and the Queen Cable Car (bottom left). Images by pduyma, Viwikipediaorg, vtt, and Newone.

Despite the success of these recreational ropeways, the reaction to the Hanoi proposal appears to be mixed at this time. The Hanoi Automobile Transport Association has apparently said that cable lifts are not suitable for public transit while local transport expert, Dr. Nguyen Xuan Thuy, expressed concerns over a ropeway’s ability to reduce traffic congestion. Of course, these comments are expected with any proposal and they appear to be nothing more than a knee-jerk reaction from those who are unfamiliar with the technology.

For professionals who have followed Cable Propelled Transit (CPT), they will know that over 35 public transit gondolas are now operational worldwide while cable cars have been well-documented in terms of its ability to reduce gridlock. For instance, the Mexicable is estimated to have removed 5,800 vehicles from local roadways, while the Mi Teleferico has eliminated the consumption of over 3,000,000 litres of gasoline per year.

Other local experts, such as Dr. Nguyen Huu Nguyen (Urban Planning Association of Vietnam) and Associate Professor Tu Sy Sy (Hanoi University of Transport) have taken a more open-minded position. They have noted the long and proven track record of the ropeway industry, the large capacities of the cabins (nearing the size of a small bus at 25-30 persons) and the ability of ropeways to easily traverse difficult topography. Officials have also acknowledged their wish to objectively assess the submission and determine if the concept is suitable for the city.

With this proposal, Hanoi appears to be the second Vietnamese city to have an urban gondola plan announced publicly. In a separate project last year, a developer in Ho Chi Minh City was unable to advance an aerial lift idea to connect two parks and the Tan Son Nhat international airport. As more Asian cities are now exploring the feasibility of Cable Propelled Transit, the implementation of an urban gondola in Vietnam could help further cement the country as a hub for ropeway innovation.



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29
Jun

2018

Are Disney’s Skyliner Gondolas Public Transit?

Post by Gondola Project

Disney Skyliner cabins are starting to arrive at Disney World. Image from WDW News Today.

Construction works for the upcoming Disney Skyliner cable cars has reached an exciting milestone this week as the first wave of cabins were spotted on the back of a truck at the world’s most visited entertainment complex.

For those who have not followed this project, the Skyliners are a network of three gondola lines that were first announced last July. The system is presumed to be built by Doppelmayr given what is clearly an Omega cabin depicted above. The 5km (3mi) of aerial lifts broke ground in June 2017 and are scheduled to open by mid-2019 (i.e. a construction period of approximately two years).

They are designed to improve transport connectivity between two theme parks (i.e. Epcot and Hollywood Studios) and four resorts (i.e. Caribbean Beach, Art of Animation, Pop Century and the upcoming Riviera Resort).

Conceptual drawings of Skyliner released by Disney in July 2017. Image from Disney Tourist Blog.

Aerial image of construction progress (May 2018) of the Caribbean Beach Resort station. This station will be the main hub of the three gondola lines. Image from Ziggy Knows Disney.

As expected, the project has received little attention outside Disney news media and has been basically ignored by the urban planning community. This of course is not surprising since many Disney projects are often brushed off as a perverse form of “real” city planning and is not meant to be taken seriously. It is also not far from the truth to say modern-day urbanists have a strong distaste for the artificiality of “Disney-style planning”.

Whether planners agree with the aesthetics of Disney World, there is a strong possibility for the Skyliners to not only become preeminent case studies of how to integrate ropeways in transit networks but to hold valuable lessons for future ropeway planning.

We know this might sound a little far-fetched but let us explain.

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21
Jun

2018

Amsterdam is Getting Serious About An Urban Gondola

Post by Gondola Project

Rendering of the IJbaan Cable Car. Looking northbound from Minerhaven Station to NDSM Marina Station. Image by UN Studios.

After three years of research, community outreach, and concept development, designs for a 1.5km urban gondola in Amsterdam were released last week. The cable car project has been spearheaded by locals Bas Dekker and Willem Wessels, who appears to have support from the City of Amsterdam, Port of Amsterdam (Dutch: Haven van Amsterdam) and the Amsterdam Transport Region (Dutch: Vervoerregio Amsterdam).

Since the gondola is designed to cross the IJ, Amsterdam’s waterfront, the system has been aptly named the IJbaan (i.e. a cable car is called kabelbaan in Dutch, so IJbaan, presumably means IJ cable car).

Based on the proposed alignment, the ropeway’s northern terminal, NDSM Marina, is located in the Amsterdam-noord borough while the system’s southern terminal, Minerhaven, is located in the Amsterdam-West borough. NDSM Marina Station has been designed as a transport hub with bike facilities, bus connections and an observation deck. Minerhaven Station, on the other hand, has been planned as a neighbourhood plaza complete with a restaurant and bar.

NDSM Marina Station. Image by UN Studios.

While it appears that most online articles has yet to reveal the technology choice, the renderings make it quite clear that the team has chosen a 3S system. Proponents have estimated ride times at 4.6 minutes, travel speeds at 6m/s (21.6km/h) and cabin sizes at 32-37 persons (with enough room to fit 4-6 bicycles). Initial ridership is projected at 4,000 daily passengers while up to 10,000 riders per day may be transported by 2040.

If you feel that you’ve seen the Amsterdam proposal before, you’re not far off. The architects behind the IJbaan, UN Studios, were the team behind the winning proposal for the Gothenburg Cable Car in Sweden. Image by UN Studios.

Along the journey, passengers will travel over three customized towers which have been designed to pay homage to the city’s industrial heritage. Riders will likely get incredible panoramic views of the city’s waterfront as the three towers will be 46m to 136m tall.

If built, the middle tower  (136m) will be one of the tallest ropeway towers in the world — only surpassed by approximately three other systems (e.g. Ha Long Bay Queen Cable Car – 188m, Phu Quoc Cable Car – 160m, and Zugspitze Eibsee Cable Car – 127m).

Compared to other Cable Propelled Transit (CPT) lines, the Amsterdam proposal may very well have the world’s tallest urban cable car tower.

For instance, urban gondolas with tall towers, such as the Emirates Air Line Cable Car and Nizhny Novgorod Cable Car have tower heights of just 90m and 82m respectively.

It appears that the proponents have spent considerable time thinking through the proposal as they’ve designed it to expand to a three-station system in the future.

Phase 1 would see the aforementioned 1.5km connection built between NDSM Marina Station and Minerhaven Station by 2025 while Phase 2 would see the system expand southwest for another ~800m to Hemknoop Station.

Proponents have described the cable car as an “air bridge” with the ability to complement Amsterdam’s goals of not only becoming a hub for urban innovation but to build an all electric public transit system. While the system has been estimated to cost US$105mm (€90mm), this will still be less than building a comparable bridge.

If everything goes according to plan, the cable car will be up and running by Amsterdam’s 750th anniversary in 2025. In total, this means that in Europe alone, nearly 70 urban cable cars have now been proposed on the continent.



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IJbaan (Amsterdam Cable Car) / Proposals & Concepts
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14
Jun

2018

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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Installations / Sparrow Hills - Luzhniki Stadium Cable Car
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08
Jun

2018

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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Proposals & Concepts / Teleferico de Santo Domingo Oeste
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