Posts Tagged: Urban Gondola



Weekly Roundup: Medellin’s Mayor Announces City’s Third Metrocable (Urban Cable Car Line)

View of Medellin from El Picacho – Image by Flickr user Omar Uran.

A quick look at some of the things that happened this week in the world of urban gondolas, cable cars and cable propelled transit:

  • Curo, the developers for a new suburb in Bath, England have reportedly revealed renderings for their cable car development plans. These designs were created after a year of community meetings and workshops. The cable car will link Foxhill to the city centre. Detailed plans can be viewed this weekend at the St. Andrew’s Community Church.


Weekly Roundup
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Gondola Project in The Toronto Star

Dear Torontonians:

You might have seen today in the Toronto Star a story about our work. The story featured an interview with myself, Steven Dale, the Founder of The Gondola Project.

Typically, such press causes The Gondola Project to experience a rather large surge in traffic from whatever given geographic region is discussing the idea. As such: Welcome!

The Gondola Project is an ongoing participatory planning project to help explain and spread the idea of Urban Gondolas and Cable Propelled Transit throughout the world. It is meant to be accessible, user-friendly and informative.

As most of today’s new readers have probably never contemplated the idea of using what is (let’s be honest) ski lift technology as mass public transit, don’t worry – at first it was totally ridiculous to us as well! We get that the idea is foreign, bizarre and strange.

But after exploring The Gondola Project we hope you’ll see that it’s not so strange and bizarre a notion after all. Feel free to comment, ask questions and generally engage us on the topic – that’s what we’re here for.

And please be rest-assured, The Gondola Project doesn’t suggest cable transit, cable cars or urban gondolas are the solution to our collective public transit woes.

Our cities are increasingly complex entities and the more tools we have to tackle coming challenges, the better. We’re not here to say gondolas are the best tool to the exclusion of all others, but we are here to say gondolas are a viable, valuable tool worth exploring.


- Steven Dale

PS: A good place to start with The Gondola Project is in our ABOUT section and our LEARN ABOUT CABLE TRANSIT sections (accessible through our the header bar above).

PPS: To save you the hassle of wading through months of old blog posts, we’ve also hand-selected a group of older posts to get you up-and-running:

PPPS: In order to broaden the scope of the site more, we will often discuss issues peripherally-related to public transit and urban gondolas. To get a feel for those kinds of discussions, we’ve hand-selected a group of older posts that should give you a reasonable understanding of The Gondola Project’s worldview:

  • Forcing Functions – Humans make mistakes constantly. Forcing Functions help prevent those mistakes. What forcing functions do we need to see in transit to make it better for everyone?
  • A Minute Is Not A Minute – Are our transit models undermined by the fact that people perceive time in very different ways?
  • Inflexible Inventory - Everyone wants to travel at the same time in the same direction. Can that problem be solved?
  • Never Mind The Real World – Do our planning models sufficiently take into consideration that which actually occurs in the world, rather than what we hope will occur?
  • Our Outsourced RailsDo North Americans really deserve all the credit for the massive rail projects they’ve built in the past?
  • The Ten Day Traffic Jam - If the Chinese are more willing to sit in a 10 day traffic jam than ride transit, what does that tell us?
  • Canadian Prosciutto - If you don’t believe something to exist, does that mean it doesn’t?




Weekly Roundup: Nantes, France Releases Feasibility Study Tender for Urban Cable Car

Nantes- la Loire

Loire River in Nantes, France. Image by Flickr user manuel | MC.

A quick look at some of the things that happened this week in the world of cable cars, urban gondolas, and cable propelled transit:

Weekly Roundup
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Urban Cable Cars in Buffalo. Conceptual Alignment for Outer Harbour.

Similar to other citizen-developed urban gondola proposals in various American cities (i.e. Austin, Chicago, and Seattle), Buffalo is now the latest one to join this ever-expanding list.

Last Friday, Dean Evaniak, presented his idea on a CPT system for reconnecting Buffalo’s waterfront. He has made an interesting case for utilizing this technology in the city by clearly laying out and comparing the benefits and limitations of cable systems versus other options for waterfront transit.

Buffalo CPT proposal. Image from

Based on a preliminary read, the proposal seems to have much merit and there appears to be countless opportunities to enhance the area’s transport connectivity via CPT. In particular, I like how he kept the ideas open ended, thus sparking much discussion and debate on the proposal’s feasibility.

I won’t go into too much detail of his plans as he does a great job in explaining his concept in the original article.

Click here for more.

Buffalo / Proposals & Concepts
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Aerotram (Urban Gondola) in Toulouse, France Selects Architects – Expects to be ready by 2016/2017

Rendering of Universite Paul-Sabatier Station. Image from Midi-Pyrenees.

Exciting news for CPT came out of Toulouse, France last week. Wilkinson Eyre – the team who designed the Emirates Air Line in London — has been chosen as the architects for the city’s urban gondola or “Aerotram” project.

It appears that the proposal has been under investigation since 2009, and the existing alignment calls for a 2.6km line which connects three activity centres:

  1. University Paul Sabatier, 29,000 undergrads and metro station;
  2. CHU Rangueil Hospital, university hospital located Pech David hill (130m a.s.l.);
  3. Oncopole, a 220 hectare site home to a new €1 billion cancer research campus.


Proposed alignment map. Image from Midi Pyrenees.

Proposed alignment satellite. Image from Tisseo.

Approximately €40-44m has been allocated to the project. The modestly sized system of 1500 pphpd is estimated to transport 6000-7000 daily riders. Point to point transport will only take 10 minutes versus 32 minutes via bus and metro. Other key stats include:

  • Cabin size: 35 persons
  • Technology: 3S/TDG
  • Total cabins: 20 (18 during peak)
  • Cabin frequency: 1min 30 secs (peak); 5-7 min (off-peak)
  • Speed: 15km/h

Undoubtedly, if the available renderings were based off of reality, the station and towers will be of the more aesthetically pleasing variety. While the extent of the customization is uncertain at this time, this issue will be of particular interest as previous highly customized urban CPT systems have been subject to significant scope creep (i.e. think Portland and London). The budget of €40-44m will certainly test the abilities of the project team.

Given the language barriers, exactly why 3S/TDG technology was chosen for a 1500 pphpd capacity system is unclear at this time — a MDG system would be able to perform a similar task at a lower price tag. However, among a range of benefits, a 3S line could offer greater reliability since it can operate under higher wind speeds. My suspicion (and I say this through my own personal experiences) is that tricable systems tend to fare better in terms of optics and public acceptance when it comes to implementing CPT systems in the Western world.

I’m certain there may be other reasons and if any of our readers have more details, we’d love to hear from you. Overall, this is appears to be a groundbreaking project as it may be the first 3S CPT system to be fully integrated into a local transit network.






Expo 86 Skyrides – Two of Canada’s Forgotten Urban Gondola Systems

If anyone lived in Vancouver back in 1986, they would probably remember Expo86 — a world’s fair which showcased the best and latest transport technologies from around the globe. It included everything from monorails, HSST, and of course, Vancouver’s famous Skytrain.

And perhaps surprisingly (or not), the event featured two urban gondola systems – both of which were sponsored by two Canadian airline companies (Air Canada and Canadian Pacific). Together they combined to transport over 9.75 million passengers in the span of 5 months.

Expo86 Map - two gondola lines outlined in red.

Expo 86

Skyride sponsored by Air Canada. One of two Expo86 urban gondolas. Image by Flickr user Bob_2006.

Expo '86

Other gondola line sponsored by Canadian Pacific. Image by Flickr user compact collection.

Expo 86

Skyride travelling over venues. Image by Flickr user Jasperdo.

Expo 86

Gondola passing by Science World. Image Flickr user by Jasperdo.

Except for the Skytrain, most of the transport innovations were removed after the Expo. Whatever happened to the two gondola lines remains a mystery for now, however, my guess is that after the system was dismantled, certain parts were recycled for use in other applications.

So despite the fact that the Expo gondolas are no longer operating, I think the pictures of two actual Canadian urban gondolas may have a powerful and positive impact on any Canadian CPT proposal. In other words, while international cable transit examples are helpful, being able to demonstrate and showcase a domestic cable project happening in one’s backyard could potentially bring a proposal back into the realm of possibility.



Double Loading Chairlift – Quick Silver Quad

One of the great things about blogging on the Gondola Project is that we never stop learning.

Recently, one of our readers sent us a link about a “Double Loading” chairlift called the Quick Silver Quad which operates in Colorado’s Breckenridge Ski Resort.


Double loading areas. Image from

Statistics from indicate that this system has a capacity of 3,600 pphpd and was built in 1999. Since this feature is very rare  (it’s the only example in North America), there’s little information about it online.

At this time, it’s unclear what implications this might have for cable transit. However, one question that immediately comes to mind is whether or not this design could be adapted in an urban gondola to increase capacity and improve loading times.

We’ll try and dig up some more information about it in the meantime but if anyone has more details about this and other similar systems, we’d love to hear about it. Thanks!

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