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Gondolas could be the Next Method of Public Transportation

Gondolas could be the Next Method of Public Transportation

by Kimberly Carver

Gondolas are commonly associated with ski lifts, but a recently proposed structure in Texas could change all that. While hardly famous for its snow, architects have proposed a new public transport method that would allow for luxuries such as private cars, more flexibility, and a constant availability of transport, while actually lowering construction costs.  But are Gondolas feasible as a method of transportation? Actually, yes they are!

Gondolas

What are Gondolas?

For those not familiar with the contraptions, Gondolas are the enclosed cabins used in Ski lifts. The Gondola is hung from a heavy duty cable that is usually called a wire and uses electricity to move up or down the cable. Gondolas can be constructed at inclined planes, level planes, and can easily go up or down. Another plus is that instead of being located at or below ground level, Gondolas are constructed in the air, meaning that they would also offer excellent views. Installing a Gondola transport system could and would be a great tourist attraction because tourists can easily take a ride to have a stunning view of the city from above, a factor that could be especially important in large cities such as Dallas or New York.

Gondolas are Cheaper to Build than Ground Rail

Constructing a single mile of ground or underground metro or subway could cost as much as $400 million, constructing a mile of Gondolas on the other hand only costs about $3-12 million, which could save tax dollars, lower public transportation costs, and allow more transportation to be built more quickly and easily. Air rail, another alternative to Gondolas, still cost somewhere around $120 million to build, which means that ‘ski lifts’ are still a great deal cheaper. Alternate methods such as bus and taxi can still be used as transportation, but a ride in the sky would be much cheaper, more energy efficient, and better for the economy than a bus. Experts also point out that the air Gondolas would reduce the need to plan a schedule around bus or train times, mainly because there would be new cars coming along every few minutes.

How it Works

Michael McDaniel and Jared Ficklin of Frog Design came up with the idea based on Ski lifts being used to transport people around towns in skiing communities. Their model, called the Wire, was introduced at a PSK Conference in San Francisco and has already caught the eye of transportation development in Austin Texas.

The Wire Gondola transport system would offer multiple stops traversing many public areas, similarly to the public transport already in place. But with cars coming frequently, anyone who misses a car can wait a minute or two for the next, or can even wait a few minutes and hop on an empty car with their friends. A prototype design is expected to be able to transport upwards of 10,000 people per hour and would limit the need to divert the destination to a place where a large station could be built. The Gondolas could be built over anything, meaning that commuters could hop off just about anywhere.

With the implementation of transport cards, such as those commonly used in most European public transport, the Gondola Wire transport system could be one of the most effective and easy to use transports ever designed. It’s more than 100x more affordable than building subway, emits less smog and pollution, and offers commuters a view, convenience, and a great ride.

What do you think? Are gondolas the future of public transportation? While it might be a while before we see Gondolas flying around New York City, they just might be put into use in other cities within the next few years! So, get ready to take the ski lift to work!

Michael McDaniel: Rethinking Solutions For The City from Piers Fawkes on Vimeo.

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About Kimberly Carver

Kimberly Carver is a writer that loves all aspects of technology including tech in science, medicine, computers, electronics and more. She is also a Mac Specialist, journalist and paralegal, as well as the owner / creator of The High Tech Society.

Comments

  1. Pam Wick says:

    https://www.google.com/search?num=10&hl=en&site=imghp&tbm=isch&source=hp&biw=1067&bih=478&q=Portland+aerial+tram&oq=Portland+aerial+tram&gs_l=img.3..0j0i24l8.1642.6561.0.6887.20.11.0.9.9.0.119.1124.6j5.11.0…0.0…1ac.1.i-GErMrIVdY
    images for aerial tram from Google Images site

    1. Kim Carver says:

      Thanks for the images and comments. I love the one in Portland. Although it’s technically a mode of transportation it feels like a fair ride =) and is great for seeing the city.

  2. Pam Wick says:

    There is an example of the gondola system of transport at OHSU (Oregon Health Sciences University) in Portland, Or. It transports personnel, visitors and patients as well as sightseeing riders, to the top of a high ridge overlooking the city, where the main hospital campus sits.
    The gondola’s other access site is on the riverfront off I-5 at their newest complex which is serving as the out patient office visit -type operations headquarters.
    It not only alleviates traffic ,(which previously crawled up a winding, treacherous route barely 2 lanes wide) but also parking!
    There is ample parking at the lower site and nearly none at the high site.
    Parking may be as important an issue as traffic alleviation.

  3. Brandy says:

    I think this is a great idea, it looks really interesting, feasible, and affordable