The future of urban transit can be found in the mountains. As we noted back in 2012, gondolas (AKA cable cars) are a very real and practical option to solve urban mobility. The benefits of using cable cars are many and when they are integrated into local fare systems they can function as a vital piece of transit infrastructure. We’ve seen the adoption of gondolas increase globally and hopefully even more cities will utilize this modern form of transit.
Vancouver is currently optioning a cableway, as are multiple cities throughout France. The future is now, and the future is suspended in the sky.
Cableways excel in transporting passengers over geographic obstacles and height differences, crossing rivers, valleys, and harbours, and scaling hills, many times cheaper than building a new road, rail line, tunnel, or bridge. And with a much smaller footprint than tram lines. A kilometre of cableway costs about half as much to install as the same length of tram line, and takes much less time to construct. Once approved, cableway systems can be designed and built in about a year.
With electric motors, cableways use significantly less energy and emit much less CO2 than diesel or hybrid buses, and are much quieter. Their simplicity provides near 100% reliability. In case of electrical outages, lines have an emergency backup generator. Operating costs are also quite low. Even though the Emirates Air Line carries only 10 percent of its capacity, it still generates revenue for TfL, such is the low cost of maintenance and motive electricity required.