Posts Tagged: Gondolas

24
Jan

2010

Aerial Technologies, Lesson 2: MDG

Teleférico do Alemão in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (2011). At 3.5km, with 6 stations, it is one of the world's largest CPT systems. Image by Flickr User minplanpac.

Monocable Detachable Gondolas (MDG) are likely the most common CPT system you’ll encounter as their low cost has made them an attractive addition to public transit systems in the developing world. Systems like the Medellin MetroCable, Telecabine de Constantine and Caracas Metrocable all use MDG technology.

Characterized by a detachable grip which allows for intermediary stations and corner turning, MDG’s utilize a single cable (hence, monocable) for both propulsion and support. This means that the cable that pulls the vehicles is also the cable that supports the vehicle.

MDG Stats:

  • Maximum Speed: 22 km/hr.
  • Maximum Capacity: 3,000 persons per hour per direction.
  • Vehicle Capacity: 4 – 15 persons.
  • Cost: $5 – 20 million (US) / kilometre.

MDG’s suffer from a relatively low capacity (though still comparable to many urban tram routes) and given their single cable are prone to stoppages due to winds in excess of 50 km/hr. MDGs are therefore most useful in calm wind environments with low capacity needs.

As the investment is quite low compared to other technologies, MDGs are excellent “starter” systems for cities intrigued by the technology but question its effectiveness. A short, low-capacity feeder line, for example, would be a fine place for cities to experiment with MDG technology.

The Medellin MetroCable is one of the world's most successful Cable Propelled Transit systems. It utilizes MDG technology.

Proceed to Technologies Module, 3: BDG.

Return to Technologies Module, 1: Introduction

Creative Commons images by Big C Harvey and Felimartinez.



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.

22
Jan

2010

The Vinpearl Land Gondola

The Vinpearl Land Gondola in Vietnam

One of the difficulties and beauties of cable research is keeping up with all the unique systems that pop up in the most seemingly unlikely of places. One such system is the Vinpearl Land Gondola in Vietnam.

The system connects the Vinpearl Land Resort on Hon Tre Island with the Vietnamese mainland. The sea-crossing is accomplished with eleven towers that remind one of the Eiffel Tower. The towers are at a height such that all ships may pass underneath the system and the towers and line are illuminated by laser systems at night to increase safety. It is the longest sea-crossing cable system in the world.

The system reportedly meets all international safety standards, took 1 year to build and opened in 2007. According to company literature, the system’s towers are anchored to the seabed some 40 meters below sea level and are designed to withstand seaswells, windstorms and eathquakes.

What is shocking about this system, however, is it’s cost: At a total length of 3.3 kilometres and a cost of US $6 million, the Vinpearl Land has a per kilometre cost of $1.8 million! There are some caveats to this price, however:

  1. The Vinpearl Land uses Monocable Gondola Technology which is the cheapest of aerial CPT systems. It travels at a slow speed of between 16.5 – 22.0 km/hr (still faster than Toronto streetcars) depending on conditions.
  2. The Vinpearl can operate safely in 60 km/hr winds. That is due to the Monocable technology. In harsher environments a more hardy (and therefore expensive) technology would be necessary.
  3. The Vinpearl Land only offers capacity of 1,500 per hour. Company literature doesn’t distinguish between persons per hour per direction (pphpd) or simply persons per hour. I suspect the latter, but I can find no confirmation of this. Nevertheless, the addition of added capacity to a cable system adds only marginal cost.
  4. Sometimes cable manufacturers divorce the cost of their system (that is the terminals, drive shafts, vehicles and cables) from the cost of their infrastructure (in the case of the Vinpearl that would mean towers and stations). I can find absolutely no data on whether or not this is the case with the Vinpearl. I suspect that it is. Knowing what I know about cable, $1.8 million/km is about the lowest price one will find. Even still, at a base price of $1.8 million/km the additional cost of towers and stations would be negligible compared to our existing transit technologies and methods.

Notwithstanding these concerns, the Vinpearl holds drastic implications for our urban environments. Consider crossing the Burrard Inlet in Vancouver; the San Francisco Bay or Puget Sound in Seattle. What does this mean for billion dollar tunnels, bridges and ferries?

Seattle's Puget Sound

Again, it’s all a question of extrapolation, innovation and imagination. It’s a question of asking what does the Vinpearl Land mean for my city?

Creative Commons Images by halam68 and joiseyshowaa



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.

03
Jan

2010

Grip Module, Lesson 4: Corners

Gondolas turn corners by automatically switching from one cable line (blue) to another in intermediary angle stations (orange circles)

Corners are important because all cities have them. If your transit technology cannot turn corners, you cannot exist in cities. It’s just that simple.

As I said before, however, no one has taken the time to explicitly and simply explain how cable deals with them. For those who’ve never encountered Cable Propelled Transit before, you may not even believe CPT can turn corners.

For the sake of ease, I’m just going to talk about Gondola systems. Cable Cars are a whole other issue, one that I will get to in the future. Know, however, that Cable Cars can turn corners with or without detachability.

For Gondola systems to turn corners, however, detachability is an absolute prerequisite. An attached gondola, for all intents and purposes, cannot turn corners because corner-turning is dependent upon detachability (let’s pretend that’s a word, okay?).

If you’ll recall from Grip Module, Lesson 2 detachable grips allow cable gondola systems to stop at intermediary “angle” stations. This same technique is used to allow gondolas to turn corners by locating the opposing terminals of two separate cable lines in the same station. A gondola enters the station, detaches from the first cable line, is decelerated then moved through the station so that it aligns perpendicularly with the second cable line. The gondola is then reaccelerated, attaches to the second cable line and departs the station.

A Gondola Angle Station

This technique allows gondolas the flexibility to realize an almost infinite number of configurations. Furthermore, deceleration at the angle station is not a prerequisite. Gondolas can switch lines in angle stations at operating speed without the need to slow down.

Most (but certainly not all) turning stations are too large right now, admittedly (as the image above implies). The above image, it should be noted, is not merely a turning station, but a turning station coupled with a maintenance bay. It is therefore a very large station. Unfortunately it is the only photo I have of the internal workings of a turning station. One thing the cable industry should pay attention to is slimming the profile of their stations which is entirely possible given the technology.

Proceed to Grip Module, Lesson 5 (coming soon)

Return to Grip Module, Lesson 3: Atttachable Grips



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.

29
Dec

2009

How To Make Cable Feel Like Transit

1. Design Urban Gondolas and Cable Cars to look more like your city’s existing fleet of transit vehicles.

2. Add more seats to the vehicles. Make sure those seats are comfortable. Benches are not enough.

3. Fully integrate cable with your existing transit systems in a unified, single fare zone. No fee to transfer should be required.

4. Provide automated station stop announcements.

5. Design towers and stations to blend in better with your surrounding urban environment.

6. Smooth transitions from one technology to another by integrating cable transfer points with existing subway, streetcar, light rail and bus stations.

7. Build cable systems that cater to the needs of local commuters, not tourists.

8. Brand your cable system with your public transit authority’s colours, logos and insignias.

9. Add your cable lines to your transit system maps. Add these maps to the interior of your Cable Cars and Urban Gondolas.

10. Make sure your vehicles are heated and/or cooled as appropriate.

11. Dress those that are responsible for the safe operation of your Cable Car and your Urban Gondola in the uniform(s) of those who operate your other transit technologies.

12. Place advertisements found on your city’s other transit technologies on your Cable Car and Urban Gondola systems.



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.

08
Dec

2009

Telecabine de Constantine

I’m traveling today and am out of internet contact (why can’t more airlines fix that problem?), so we’re going to watch a video (like when your high school history teacher was sick with strep throat)

It’s short, it’s in French, and it should inspire the transit wonk in all of you (especially starting at 0:56).  Enjoy:



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.

10
Nov

2009

Basic Lesson 2: Gondolas & Cable Cars

There are two major sub-groups of Cable-Propelled Transit (CPT) technology:  Gondolas and Cable Cars.

Gondolas are supported and propelled from above by cables.  Most people are familiar with this technology as used in alpine ski-resorts, however it is finding increased usage in non-alpine urban regions.

Gondola

Gondola

Cable Cars on the other hand, are supported and propelled from below.  Propulsion is provided by a cable whereas support is provided by rails of varying configurations.

Cable Car

Cable Car

Cable Car

Cable Car

It’s important to understand that since there has never existed an exact typology for Cable-Propelled Transit, people tend to use the terms Gondola and Cable Car interchangeably.  Hopefully, The Gondola Project can help solve that problem.

Remember:  Gondolas are from above and Cable Cars are from below.  That’s all you need to know.

Proceed to Basic Lesson 3 to learn about Aerial Trams & Funiculars

Return to Basic Lesson 1 to learn the definition of Cable Propelled Transit

Creative Commons images by borkur.net, Dede90 and Matthew Black



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.

05
Nov

2009

The Basics

Sometimes people want to answer complex questions when most people looking for answers just want the basics.

When I first began this work, there was one really basic question about Cable-Propelled Transit (CPT) that dogged me and no one could answer it.  It was a question that also dogged the think tank that first sponsored my research:

Can gondolas turn corners, and if so, how?

The answer might be patently obvious to some people, but not to someone who’d never seen one do it before.

The reason the question was so important is simple:  For an aerial cable system to be useful on any sort of scale in an urban environment, the vehicles must be capable of turning corners.  That’s a limiting factor for any transit technology.

Unfortunately, there were no strong sources available to answer that question.  One could extrapolate, but there was no clear statement on the matter.

I cannot even begin to tell you how long it took to definitively answer that question (incidentally, the answer is ‘yes’).  Days turned into weeks with no conclusive answer.  There was talk of “angle stations” and “intermediate terminals” but no where did someone take the time to just say this:

YES!!!  GONDOLAS CAN TURN CORNERS!!!  HERE’S THE PROOF!!!!

Proof

Proof

You can barely make it out in the above picture above, but this photo of the Ngong Ping 360 shows gondolas making a right hand turn on the island before running parallel to the freeway bridges.

Research is time-consuming.  Private and public sector planners require straight-forward answers to simple questions so that they can focus their energies on other things.  We’re not engineers.

For people to want a technology, they have to understand how it works to the extent that it affects them.  People are selfish with their attention.  They don’t care how a car works, they just care if it has a cup-holder.  They don’t care how a computer works, they just care if it “has email.”

Here’s a good rule to live by:  Assume people know absolutely nothing about your technology, then reduce that level of expectation by half.  That’s a good place to start . . . the basics.

Creative Commons image by James Wheare.



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.