In a time when every public entity is trying to spend less and still provide adequate transportation options to its constituents, I found myself looking to the sky. Intra-urban planes would be a bit overkill, and mimicking Sao Paulo’s 420 helipads (in the city!) is just too inequitable. What I’m looking at is the gondola or aerial tram or Cable Propelled Transit (CPT). It is fast becoming one of the most popular, least-used forms of urban mass transit in the world. There are only four cities in the world, according to The Gondola Project (arguably the global leader in CPT proselytization), that have truly integrated their CPT into their whole transit system: Caracas, Venezuela; Constantine, Algeria; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; and Medellin, Colombia. Otherwise, most cities have short, single, experimental or tourist-based lines like Portland’s aerial tram or the Rostok/ Munich lift that was disassembled in Rostok to follow a garden exhibition traveling to Munich. However, more and more of these experiments are planting themselves all over the map, like the London Thames Cable Car; the urban gondola in Ordu, Turkey; or the Teléferico de
|Caracas, Venezuela -- Metrocable|
|London Thames Car|
city traffic may be the ultimate urban topographical challenge.” Establishing a solid, urban example of a CPT that did not take advantage of difficult topography would grab the attention of cities looking for a cheap, viable method of transit, but can currently only see CPT ferrying people up to the diamond black ski runs.
|Rio de Janeiro|
The cons listed in the aforementioned article are noteworthy. They include issues like difficulty integrating with existing transit systems; almost no examples of lines branching off or turning; and passenger loads that can’t compete with light rail or even BRT. There is also the overwhelming idea that CPT, in my opinion, comes off as more of an amusement park ride than a viable way to get to a destination. A negative public perception, valid or not, certainly makes an impression on the planner’s success in introducing a mode of transportation. One of the worries that frequently pops up when a community considers CPT, according to the Gondola Project’s FAQ, is if it will perform well in icy and windy conditions. This is ironic considering its most commonly known use is by ski resorts. I’m certain, as more established cities (see: industrialized, wealthy, powerful, North Hemispherical) have gondola success stories, this perception will change.
|Conceptual Cable Car Considered for Chicago|
The restriction for transporting people in anything but a straight line is not as rare as the article made it out to be. In fact, though not as frequently built as straight lines, slight curves and even ninety degree turns have been achieved in CPT. I think the capacity issue would be overcome if it was proven to be more reliable than light rail or BRT. In addition, technology could improve the capacity as the demand rises. I think the biggest hurdle CPT has to clear is the public perception that it's some flimsy joy-ride for tourists. Is CPT something cities should seriously consider as a part of their transportation system? Or is this a gimmick that could work only in niche areas? Have you ever utilized CPT aside from Portland's aerial tram?
This post was reviewed by Sravya Garladenne.
|Singapore Cable Car|