Friday, January 6, 2012

Infrastructure: A Second Look at Gondola Transit

Thanks (I think) to a reader.
From the Toronto Star:

Mayor Rob Ford seems to favour tunneling transit underground in Toronto. But a growing number of international cities, including some in Canada, are casting their eyes to the sky at an unconventional mode that’s cheaper, cleaner and quicker to build than subways and light rail.

Two years ago, when the Star ran a feature on gondolas as public transit — yes, essentially heavy-duty ski lifts — many Toronto readers and politicians said it was crazy talk.

That was before Councillor Doug Ford floated his vision of a lakeside monorail and his brother’s plans for a privately funded Sheppard subway rang increasingly hollow.

Meantime, interest in gondolas has grown in Canada and abroad.

Why not a gondola, asked Professor Amer Shalaby, a University of Toronto transportation engineer, who has studied them as part of a multi-modal transportation plan for Mecca, Saudi Arabia. They could be used to carry pilgrims to the hajj from satellite parking lots around the city. Its roads are so congested that pedestrians and cars compete for space.

Although he’s not advocating gondolas for Toronto, Shalaby doesn’t think it would hurt to look at them.
“It’s not out of the blue. A number of jurisdictions around the world have started using this as a public transit mode,” he said.

A video on his website notes that “aerial ropeway transit” is a great solution where there’s no room at street level. Stations could be integrated into existing buildings or built over the roads.
A gondola doesn’t offer the same capacity as a subway but it could move 5,000 to 6,000 passengers an hour, “which is good compared to a streetcar line,” said Shalaby....MORE
I'll fess up. When I first saw the story this is what came to mind:


And I thought "Gondolas in Canada? Won't the canals freeze?"