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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Has Urban Gondola Technology Finally Gone Mainstream?

Post by Gondola Project

In the last fifteen years, over fifty urban ropeways (recreational and mass transit) have been built. Systems pictured (from left to right, top to bottom) are the Metrocable Line J, Metrocable Line K, Roosevelt Island Tram, Portland Aerial Tram, Ankara Cable Car, Mi Teleferico Yellow Line, Koblenz Cable Car, Emirates Air Line Cable Car and Gaia Cable Car.

By and large for the past quarter century, urban gondolas have been considered a fringe transport technology in the minds of many North American transit professionals. Over this past decade however, attitudes over its application in the urban environment have shifted dramatically and it seems that the tides are finally turning.

Last week for instance, the mayor of Los Angeles committed publicly to building a Dodgers Stadium gondola by 2022 and this week, the Edmonton Transit System Advisory Board (ETSAB), admitted in a seemingly reluctant fashion that, “It [cable transport] actually is a valid mass transit option.”

If that wasn’t enough positive news, the Toronto Star reported two days ago that the Burnaby Mountain Gondola (first proposed in 2009) will be subject to detailed analysis as part of TransLink’s Phase 2 plan. Basically, what this means is that a mayor, a transit advisory committee and a major transit agency all within a single week — in North America — came out in support of urban gondolas! Needless to say, that’s not an insignificant event in the world of cable transport.

Essentially with these new projects, we’ve been able to track over two hundred urban ropeways proposals worldwide — and from our estimates, there are nearly forty public transport gondolas which are currently operational (i.e. Metrocable Line J, Red Line Mi Teleferico, Ankara Cable Car and etc).

In fact, this number increases to nearly a hundred systems if you include urban ropeways built for recreational purposes (i.e. Emirates Air Lines, Ngong Ping 360, Singapore Cable Car and etc). All of these systems can be viewed in the map below.

With the immense successes seen throughout the globe, especially in Latin American cities, it appears that the few remaining cynical transport planners have little ammunition to support their biases against cable cars. Gut-based arguments that ropeways are too slow, too dangerous and too unworldly have largely fallen by the wayside.

After all, it’s hard to argue that gondolas aren’t a serious form of mass transit when they consistently operate with reliability levels of more than 99%, transport commuters in more than a dozen countries, and can function as the rapid transit backbone of an entire city.

Of course, while we believe Cable Propelled Transit (CPT) can offer solutions to urban transport challenges, it is important to reiterate that ropeway technology is not a silver bullet. City planners must simply be cognizant that it is merely one tool in their toolbox that they can use to address contemporary transport problems.

As gondolas find growing acceptance in the transit planning circles, let us know what your thoughts are on these major events taking place in the world of urban ropeways.


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Doppelmayr to Start Work on New Cable Liner in London

Post by Advertorial Team

Installation works for the Luton’s automated people mover, known as the Direct Air to Rail Transit (DART) system, is set to begin in 2019 and open for public service by 2021. Image from Doppelmayr.

Thanks to the upcoming Cable Liner Double Shuttle by Doppelmayr, travel times for passengers transiting between central London’s St. Pancras International station and Luton Airport will be just 30 minutes. The DART train will greatly enhance passenger convenience and comfort as the fully automated rope-driven transit line will be available 24 hours a day, 7 days week.

The 2km transport system is comprised of two 4-car trains (170 passengers per train) which operate on two independent tracks. With train frequencies of four minutes, the Cable Liner can deliver up 2,720 passengers per hour per direction.

The system broke ground on April 17th and is part of a larger investment project which aims to support the expected 18 million annual passengers which will fly in and out of Luton airport in the near future.

Doppelmayr and local team members come together to celebrate the start of the Luton DART project. Image from Doppelmayr.


Doppelmayr will not only operate the train for the first five years, but will partner with nearby schools and colleges in Luton to ensure that local businesses and young people will be involved in the DART’s implementation.

The new Cable Liner builds upon Doppelmayr’s experience and success in the United Kingdom as Luton Airport becomes the second airport in the country to utilize Cable Liner technology after Birmingham’s Air Rail Link project in 2003. To learn more about this project, click here.

Materials on this page are paid for. Gondola Project (including its parent companies and its team of writers and contributors) does not explicitly or implicitly endorse third parties in exchange for advertising. Advertising does not influence editorial content, products, or services offered on The Gondola Project.

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Photos: Annual Safety Training and Evacuation Exercises in Grenoble

Post by Gondola Project

Grenoble-Bastille cable car held annual safety evacuation training this week. Photo by R Lemercier.

Aerial ropeways are amongst the safest, if not the safest forms of transport in the world.

For those who work with cable transport, they will personally understand and acknowledge that there is a deeply embedded culture of safety where passenger security is prioritized first and foremost.

While aerial lifts rarely suffer any mechanical or electronic failures — some estimate that there is an evacuation only once every 4.5 years — cable cars still employ teams of first responders who are trained to safely evacuate passengers during emergency situations.

To ensure aerial rescuers are fully prepared, the Grenoble-Bastille cable car conducted its annual evacuation exercises this week. A specialist team skillfully lowered thirty brave evacuees — all of which were actually volunteers! Photographer R. Lemercier was there in person to witness the annual event and was kind enough to share with us some of his personal images.

Photo by R Lemercier.

Photo by R Lemercier.

Photo by R Lemercier.

To view the entire photo album from this year’s training sessions in Grenoble, click here.

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LEITNER Ropeways Builds New Trebević Cable Car in Sarajevo

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The Trebevic Cable Car is built with an inclined length of 2,158m and 10 towers. Image from LEITNER ropeways.

After an absence of nearly three decades, an aerial ropeway has finally returned to Sarajevo’s famous Trebević mountain. The new 10-passenger cable car, built by LEITNER ropeways, carries visitors to the summit (1,160m) from the old city centre in just seven minutes and fifteen seconds.

The state-of-the-art aerial lift, designed with LEITNER’s DirectDrive system, can transport up to 1,200 passengers per hour per direction onboard its 33 cabins.

The cable car was made possible thanks in part to 3.5 million Euros donation by a Dutch nuclear physicist and businessman, Edmond “Eddy” Offerman. Offerman has a very special connection to the mountain as he met his wife, Maja Serdarević, in the Bosnian capital back in the 90s. As such, he had many fond memories riding the old Trebević aerial lift.

Anton Seeber (Managing Director of LEITNER), Abdulah Skaka (Mayor of Sarajevo) and Martin Leitner (Member of the LEITNER Board of Directors) were all in attendance at the opening ceremony. Image from LEITNER ropeways.

The former ropeway was a central component of the 1984 Winter Olympics and a popular day trip excursion until it was destroyed during the Yugoslav Wars in the 90s. The new recreational urban gondola reopened on April 6, the same day in which Offerman began his relationship with Serdarević.

Offerman hopes that the cable car installation can contribute to the revival of Sarajevo. To learn more about this project, click here.

Materials on this page are paid for. Gondola Project (including its parent companies and its team of writers and contributors) does not explicitly or implicitly endorse third parties in exchange for advertising. Advertising does not influence editorial content, products, or services offered on The Gondola Project.

Want more? Purchase Cable Car Confidential: The Essential Guide to Cable Cars, Urban Gondolas & Cable Propelled Transit and start learning about the world's fastest growing transportation technologies.



Nostalgic Carrier Designs

Post by Gondola Project

The Port Vell Aerial Tramway in Barecelona is built with Bleichert’s dodecagonal (12-sided) cabin. Image by Jordiferrer.

Many modern urban ropeways and their manufacturers are easily recognizable based purely from their cabin designs.

For instance, monocable detachable gondolas (MDGs) built by Doppelmayr use the OMEGA carriers from CWA while the Leitner Group (Leitner ropeways and Poma) uses the Diamond cabins from Sigma. However, before the industry experienced a flurry of mergers at/near the turn of the 20th century, many smaller ropeways manufacturers expertly plied their craft around the world.

Not so dissimilar to some of the iconic cabin models we see today, many prominent ropeway builders of the past were also easily recognizable based solely on their carrier designs.

With the return of the custom-built “Charlotte” cabin on the Brest Cable Car this week and the continued growth in cable transit, we thought it would be interesting to showcase a few nostalgic cabin types that are practically unknown to the outside world.

As ropeway companies and planners are becoming increasingly sensitive to the importance of aesthetics in the urban environment, perhaps some of these images will inspire cities to add a little more flavour and personality to their cabin designs.


Gerhard Müller Dietlikon (GMD) — Lightweight Aluminum Cabins

Emmetten-Stockhütte Gondola (1968) was built with Müller’s iconic aluminum 4-person cabins. Image from Seilbahn-Nostalgie.

The steel lattice hanger arms were another unique feature of the Muller gondola design. Image from Seilbahn-Nostalgie.









Gerhard Müller was a Swiss engineer and one of the pioneers in detachable ropeway technology. As the founder of Gerhard Müller Dietlikon (GMD) in 1947, he was one of the most important players in the production of aerial lifts until his death in 1985.

Among his many accomplishments, he was known for designing lifts with portal/gantry towers, inventing the detachable Müller grip and inventing the ill-fated Aerobus. In addition to his great technical achievements, many of Müller’s ropeways were immediately identifiable by spotting its lightweight aluminum cabins.

More than twenty of these gondola systems were built throughout the world but many, if not most, of them have been modernized.

Carlevaro & Savio — Futuristic / Egg-Shaped Cabins 

Piana di Vigezzo gondola (1986) built with the iconic egg-shaped cabins. Most of the cabins were designed to fit 2-4 persons. Image from chairlift.org.

UFO-style cabin at Mount Snow, Vermont. Very little information is available about this system. Image from Colorado School of Mines.

Carlevaro & Savio was an Italian ropeway company that was founded in 1945.

They were recognized for designing their lifts with charming egg-shaped cabins made of metal and fibre glass. Many in the industry considered Carlevaro & Savio’s designs as some of the most futuristic-looking ropeways for their time. Dozens of these systems were built around the world in countries such as the USA, Italy, Switzerland and France.

Aside from their whimsical gondola cabins, they were also one of the first companies to develop a detachable grip. Their spring-loaded clamp is considered the forerunner of the detachable grips now used by Doppelmayr and Leitner ropeways.

Von Roll — Side-Chairs

The Krupka-Mückentürmchen sidechair (Czech Republic), built in 1952, is still operational today! Note that the chair has a roof for weather protection. Image form Seilbahn-Nostalgie.

VR 101 sidechair constructed for the 1949 KABA Expo in Thun, Switzerland. System carried 300,000 riders. Image from R. Von Roll.

Voll Roll, a Swiss ropeway manufacturer based in Bern, was another prolific builder of ropeways.

They were famous for being the inventors of the detachable chairlift, the VR101 model, way back in 1945. They were similarly well-known for designing 2-seater side chairs where passengers actually sat perpendicular to their direction of travel. This might seem a little odd nowadays, but from what we can gather online, the sideway seating was believed to provide passengers with a better ride and viewing experience. Also, the sideway profile of the chairs meant that station widths could be reduced.

While the chair is not a “cabin” per say, sidechairs do provide an example of the unique carrier designs that were once found on passenger ropeways.

Bleichert — Dodecagonal, 12-Sided Cabin

Predigtstuhl Cable Car (1928) is the oldest, still operational, large-cabin cable car on the planet. It connects a 1613m tall mountain in southern Germany. Image by HUvB.

The Aeri de Montserrat (Spain) opened in 1930 and still operates with its original cabins. The 1.3km system links visitors to the Monserrat Mountain near Barcelona. with Image by HuvB.










Established in 1874, Bleichert was once the world’s largest ropeway manufacturer, having built thousands of cable lifts on every corner of the globe.

While it initially focused its efforts on constructing material transport ropeways, it began to build iconic passenger lifts after World War I. Some famous systems include the Tyrolean Zugspitze Cable Car (formerly highest altitude), Predigstuhl Cable Car (oldest operating cable car with original cabin, 1928), and Port Vell Aerial Tramway (formerly highest ropeway tower, 107m).

Despite the age of some of Bleichert’s systems, it appears that some systems still operate with the original cabins built almost 100 years ago! As you might be able to tell from the photos above, the 12-sided dodecagonal cabins which fit 20-35 persons were a instantly recognizable symbol of Bleichert’s aerial tram products.

The aforementioned images and videos really just scratch the surface of the diversity found in the historical ropeway carrier scene. Given the dozens of cable car companies in the past and thousands of installations worldwide, let us know below in the comments section which nostalgic cabin designs are your favourite. 

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Doppelmayr Yearbook 2018: Urban Transport Highlights and More

Post by Advertorial Team

Since its founding in 1893, Doppelmayr/Garaventa Group has implemented 14,800 ropeways in 92 countries around the globe. Images from Doppelmayr.

Doppelmayr/Garaventa Group’s annual Worldwide publication is back.

The 2018 issue was released last week and features over ninety cable-propelled projects that were built by the world’s largest ropeway manufacturer.

Similar to its previous editions (e.g. 2016, 2017), cable transport enthusiasts will be delighted by the yearbook’s vivid photo spreads, descriptive summaries, and statistical profiles.

Some of this edition’s biggest highlights include not only the ever-growing number of urban gondola lines in La Paz, Bolivia, but also the record-breaking installations in Switzerland, Vietnam and Germany.

Worldwide 2018 documents an impressive array of ropeway projects and covers: six Funicular Railways; seven Reversible Aerial Tramways; two 3S Gondola Lifts; three Combination Lifts; twenty-two Detachable Gondola Lifts; twenty-five Detachable Chairlifts; fourteen Fixed-Grip Chairlifts; fourteen Surface Lifts; one Material Transport System; three Monoracks; and one CABLE Liner.


10-MGD Línea Naranja I & II

10-MGD Línea Naranja I & II. Image from Doppelmayr.

Línea Naranja (Orange Line) was inaugurated in September 2017 by Bolivian President, Evo Morales. The four station urban gondola has a capacity of 3,000 passengers per hour and was built in two sections (1,584m and 983m).

By connecting Línea Roja (Red Line) and Línea Blanca (White Line), Línea Naranja provides passengers with opportunities to transfer throughout the entire Mí Teleférico network. Plaza Villarroel, the ropeway’s eastern terminus, featured the world’s first gondola station designed beneath a public square.

This system marks the fifth urban gondola system that has opened as part of the world’s largest urban gondola network. La Paz/El Alto’s visionary urban gondola plans has inspired cities around the globe to explore how aerial ropeways can help solve urban transport challenges.

Read more

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