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Cable Car
Conf i de ntial
The Essential guide to
Cable cars, Urban gondolas
& Cable Propelled Transit

1st Edition
2013
Creative Ur ban Projec ts

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About this guide


Cable Propelled Transit (CPT), once relegated almost
exclusively to alpine resorts and amusement parks, is now
playing a much greater role in providing commuter and tourist
services in urban areas.

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As the worlds human population urbanizes, the need to


strengthen transportation networks intensifies. Yet, while cities
across the globe search for innovative ideas to enhance and
complement their existing transit lines, objective and accurate
analyses of CPT has unfortunately been subject to much
misinformation and misunderstanding.

How to Read this Guide


While we would be delighted
if you read this document
cover to cover, we recognize
thats probably not going to
happen.
This guide has therefore
been designed primarily as
a reference tool.
So take a look at the table
of contents and feel free
to read the sections in any
order you wish.

As a direct response to this dilemma, this guide has been


crafted to provide readers with a comprehensive and nontechnical understanding of cable transit technology.
Using this guide, individuals from all backgrounds can learn
what CPT is, how it can be implemented and where it is currently
operating around the globe. This guide not only explains
what is possible with CPT technology but also addresses what
limitations it faces.
In our daily practice, we think of transit technologies as we
think of different food groups. None are good or bad; some
are simply better than others in a given place, time or situation.
That may sound far-fetched, but its apt. To us, cable transit is
simply one out of many food groups (i.e. buses, subways, light
rail, cars, bicycles) which contribute to a healthy and balanced
menu of transportation options.
The work presented here is guaranteed to change over time.
That tends to happen in an industry as dynamic and growing
as cable transit is. New ideas are being generated constantly
and the information presented can often be contradictory.
Opinions, worldviews and languages often conflict with one
another and no ones really sure whats going to happenbut
everyones got an idea about what should happen.
This document, then, is certain to be amended, changed,
and altered as new information is gathered and questions are
answered in future editions. Nevertheless, what you have in
your hands (or on your screen) right now is the most robust and
useful analysis of Cable Propelled Transit solutions in the world
today.

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Table of Contents
1

What is CPT?...................................................................................................................................... 2

1.1

1.0 Introduction

1.2 Nomenclature................................................................................................................................... 3

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1.3 History................................................................................................................................................. 5

1.4 Growth............................................................................................................................................... 7
1.5

Cable Manufacturers...................................................................................................................... 8

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2.0 CPT Technology


2.1

10

Cable Components........................................................................................................................11

2.2 Grips................................................................................................................................................. 13
2.3

Monocable Detachable Gondola (MDG)................................................................................. 15

2.4 Bicable Detachable Gondola (BDG).......................................................................................... 16


2.5

Tricable Detachable Gondola (TDG/3S).....................................................................................17

2.6 Funitel............................................................................................................................................... 18
2.7 Aerial Tram....................................................................................................................................... 19
2.8

Pulsed Gondola.............................................................................................................................. 20

2.9 Summary ......................................................................................................................................... 21

3.0 CPT Features

23

3.1 Environment.................................................................................................................................... 24
3.2 Speed............................................................................................................................................... 26
3.3 Safety ............................................................................................................................................... 27
3.4 Stations............................................................................................................................................. 32
3.5 Cornering......................................................................................................................................... 34
3.6 Towers............................................................................................................................................... 36
3.7 Cabins ............................................................................................................................................. 39
3.8 Expansion........................................................................................................................................ 43
3.9 Service Quality................................................................................................................................ 45
3.10 Implementation Costs.................................................................................................................... 47
3.11 Operations & Maintenance.......................................................................................................... 48
3.12 Limitations........................................................................................................................................ 51

53

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4.0 CPT & the Urban Landscape

4.1 Impacts of CPT on Urban Environment ...................................................................................... 54

4.2 Urban Implementation Strategies................................................................................................ 56


4.3 Rivers & Channels........................................................................................................................... 57

Transit Extension.............................................................................................................................. 59

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4.5

4.4 Urban Peaks.................................................................................................................................... 58

4.6 Airport Connector.......................................................................................................................... 60

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4.7

City Circulator................................................................................................................................. 61

4.8 Best Practices: Design & Implementation................................................................................... 63


4.9 Best Practices: O&M & Service..................................................................................................... 66

5.0 System Profiles

70

5.1

Worldwide CPT................................................................................................................................ 71

5.2

Medellin Line K................................................................................................................................ 72

5.3

Medellin Line J.................................................................................................................................74

5.4

Caracas Metrocable..................................................................................................................... 76

5.5

Teleferico do Alemao.................................................................................................................... 78

5.6 Roosevelt Island Tram..................................................................................................................... 80


5.7

Constantine Telecabine................................................................................................................ 82

5.8

Tlemcen Telecabine....................................................................................................................... 84

5.9 Skikda Telecabine.......................................................................................................................... 86


5.10

Portland Aerial Tram....................................................................................................................... 88

5.11

Medellin Line L - Cable Arvi.......................................................................................................... 90

5.12 Emirates Air Line.............................................................................................................................. 92


5.13

Koblenz Rheinseilbahn................................................................................................................... 94

5.14

Teleferico Warairarepano............................................................................................................. 96

5.15 Ngong Ping 360.............................................................................................................................. 98


5.16 Singapore Cable Car.................................................................................................................. 100
5.17

Funivia del Renon ........................................................................................................................ 102

5.18

Planned Systems........................................................................................................................... 105

5.19 System Stats................................................................................................................................... 107

6.0 Conclusion
6.1

109

Final Thoughts................................................................................................................................110

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1.0 Introduction

So youre interested in cable? Well then youve come to the


right place. Cable Car Confidential is designed to be the
worlds most comprehensive, easy-to-understand and useful
resource on this emerging public transit technology.
It will provide readers with knowledge about an often
misunderstood transport typology and educate them on how
to best implement this technology in an urban environment.
This 2013 edition is the first of what will be a yearly publication
which monitors, tracks and analyzes Cable Propelled Transit
systems from around the world.

Creative Urban Projects Inc.

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Introduction

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1.1 What is CPT?

Cable Propelled
Transit (CPT) is a
transportation
technology that
moves people in
motor-less, engineless vehicles that
are propelled by a
steel cable.

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Cable Propelled Transit (CPT) is a transportation technology


that moves people in motor-less, engine-less vehicles that are
propelled by a steel cable. The two main CPT configurations
include Top-Supported systems (vehicles/cabins supported
from above) and Bottom-Supported systems (cabins supported
from below via tracks). While both CPT types are used in urban
settings, this document will focus only on Top-Supported
systems.
In total, there are six major top-supported cable technologies
that are relevant for our purposes here. Its not important to
remember what each one does right nowbut it is important
to remember that each offers its own unique cost-performance
package with varying speeds, capacities, and pricing.

Cable
Propelled
Transit

BottomSupported

TOPSUPPORTED

MDG

BDG

TDG/3S

FUNITEL

AERIAL TRAM

PULSED
GONDOLA

CABLE LINERS
CABLE CARS
Funiculars
Mini-metros
Inclined elevators

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FIELD NOTE 1:
CABLE AS A COMPLEMENTARY TECHNOLOGY

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PEOPLE DONT
BELIEVE IN CUREALLS FOR A SIMPLE
REASON: CUREALLS DONT EXIST.

KEY LESSON:
If you want to be taken
seriously by people,
you must position cable
cars not as a cureall but as one among
many complementary
technologies and tools.

One of the most common mistakes we see people make


with alternative transportation technologies (gondolas
and cable cars included) is to pitch it as a cure-all to the
ills of public transitdont do that.
For a hundred years transportation planners have heard
how bullet trains, moving sidewalks, monorails, maglevs
and PRT (personal rapid transit) systems were going to
singlehandedly revolutionize our cities.
Those revolutions, however, failed to materialize because
theres no single, silver bullet solution to any given
problem. As the saying goes, theres more than one
way to skin a cat. Same goes for public transportation.
Planners, policy-makers, financiers and engineers are
a skeptical group of individuals. And that skepticism will
quickly turn to cynicism if you walk into a room and start
proclaiming cable cars as the singular solution to every
one of their transport problems.
When public transportation works best, its because its
multi-modal. That is, it leverages the strengths of a variety
of transport modes to create a dense, useful and viable
network. Your car, your bike, your feet and your national
airline all serve a separate purpose.
If you talk about dozens of kilometers of gondolas zipping
across your city, people are likely to dismiss you as a
dreamer and a Utopian. People dont believe in curealls for a simple reason: Cure-alls dont exist.
Instead, find the two or three places in your city where
you can use a cable car to fill an existing gap and
complement the existing transportation network.
Demonstrate that cable cars are nothing more than one
among many tools in the transport planners toolbox.
Do that, and youll find your audience to be far more
open-minded.

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2.0 CPT Technology

You now know that cable transit isnt a singular technology but
a family of several varying technologies, each with their own
costs and benefits.
But what exactly are those costs and benefits? What are the
trade-offs involved? How can you make a rational choice
about what system is most useful to you?
The next section deals with all that and more.

Creative Urban Projects Inc.

1.1

Monodetachable
Gondola

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CPT Technology

1 cable for
propulsion and
support

Technology: Monocable Detachable Gondolas (MDG) are


the most basic and common CPT systems used for urban
transit installations. This technology utilizes a single cable
which provides both propulsion and support. Since the
cable line circulates continuously around two end terminals,
MDGs are classed as continuously circulating systems. An
MDGs detachable grip enables cabins to detach from the
propulsion cable upon entering a station and reattaching
when exiting. MDG cabins typically seat 8 passengers but can
have capacities ranging anywhere from 4-15 riders. They are
increasingly popular forms of public transportation due to their
high reliability, modest capacities, relative low cost and quick
implementation times.
Application: MDG systems are well-suited and easily adapted
to the urban environment whether its built on challenging
topography or flat land. In large cities, they typically
complement rapid transit trunk lines by functioning as feeder
systems. However, in smaller cities with lower transport
demands, they can operate as a primary transportation line.
MDG systems are also the most common tourist-oriented
gondola systems found in cities.

Technical Stats
# of Cables: 1

Cabin: up to 15

Grip: Detachable

Max Wind Speed: 70 kph

Max Speed: ~22 kph

Example:
Teleferico de Gaia
Gaia

detached in the station

Relative Cost: Low

Max Capacity: up to 4000 persons per hour per


direction (pphpd)

attached to 1 cable for both support and propulstion

cabins slow dramatically,


run on track

detached in the station

detached in the station

cabins slow dramatically,


run on track

attached to 1 propulsion cable, supported by 1 stationary cable

detached in the station

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3.0 CPT Features

The strengths and weaknesses of Cable Propelled Transit are


numerous. Learning what the benefits and the costs associated
with the technology will allow you to speak intelligently with
stakeholders, planners and politicians.
This section will discuss how cable car technologies can
contribute to a safe, user-friendly and efficient transport
network while discussing some of the drawbacks associated
with the technology.

Creative Urban Projects Inc.

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CPT Features

3.9 Service Quality

Comfort

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CPT offers various sized cabins with both sitting and standing areas.
The stations and cabins can be equipped with air conditioning in the
summer and heating in the winter. The windows can be tinted to block
bright sunlight, while also allowing for a view of the surrounding area.
Since cabins are fully enclosed, riders are protected from the elements.
For many systems, air vents in cabins provide natural ventilation which
is sufficient in ensuring optimal passenger comfort.

Noise

Gondolas generate minimal noise pollution because they operate


with no on-board motor. Gondola operations are very quiet and the
noise typically originates from terminal stations and towers (when
cabins pass-by). Sound mitigation techniques can decrease noise
coming from stations to minimize disturbance to its surroundings.

Wait Times

Wait times are subject to factors such as cabin frequency, cabin


size, line speeds and passenger volumes. Since cabins circulate
continuously between two end terminals, wait times to board a
gondola are typically less than one minute. This means that unlike
buses and trains, schedules are not required.

Reliability

Reliability on many urban CPT


systems is remarkably high

ranging from 99.3% to 99.9%. To


ensure high levels of service,
system operators adhere to
strict preventative maintenance
guidelines.
Poor weather conditions (i.e.
mainly high wind speeds, and
ice and thunderstorms to a lesser
degree) are generally the reasons
behind service interruptions.
However, high technological
performance standards enable
certain CPT systems (i.e. TDG/3S)
to operate at wind speeds
greater than 100 kph.

...cabins can
be equipped
with air
conditioning
in the summer
and heating in
the winter.

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4.0 CPT & the Urban


Landscape

Similar to other types of transportation infrastructure,


constructing CPT systems can have profound impacts on the
local and surrounding urban environment. Balancing sound
transport improvements while doing no harm to the surrounding
urban fabric should be the goal of all urban cable systems.
This section is broken down into three main subject areas:
1. Impacts of CPT on the Urban Environment
2. Urban Implementation Strategies
3. Best Practices

Creative Urban Projects Inc.

4.5

Transit Extension

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CPT & the Urban Landscape

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Extending urban rail lines is often time-consuming and costly.


In many cases, they are unable to navigate steep and/or
challenging topography. As an alternative to expensive rail
or road civil works, cities can simply extend the reach of their
rapid transit network via a cost-effective and time-conscious
CPT installation.
Once built and integrated into an urban mass transit system,
CPT lines offer an innovative transport solution that can
enhance connectivity with new and/or existing communities,
effectively solving connectivity and last-mile problems.
In some cities, new cable lines have shown that they can spur
new development along the transit corridor and/or revitalize
neighborhoods.

Rapid Transit
Extension Line

Rapid Transit
Extension Line

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5.0 System Profiles

Dozens of cable transit systems are now operating around the


world.
This section will provide an analysis of some of the most
important cable systems in operations today and what we can
learn from them.
Please note, however, that this is not an exhaustive list of all
urban cable car systems. More system profiles will be added
and existing profiles will be updated in future editions.

Creative Urban Projects Inc.

5.3

Medellin Line j

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System Profiles

Technology: MDG

Length: 2.6 km

Year: 2008

Stations: 4

Max Speed: 18 kph

Avg Speed: 16 kph


Cabin Capacity: 10

Cabins in Operation: 119

Trip Time: 10 minutes

System Capacity: 3,000 pphpd

Annual Ridership: 5,000,000

System Cost: $50,000,000 (USD)

$ $ $

Cost per KM: $19,200,000 (USD)

About

After the successful implementation of Line K, the city quickly


began construction of Medellins second cable lift - Line J. This
2.6km line replaced the untimely and unreliable private bus
system and was built as part of a larger social development
program.
By providing a quick and direct connection to the Metro
network, its primary purpose was to improve living standards
in the citys most disadvantaged neighbourhoods. Since its
opening, this cable lift effectively integrated several terrainconstrained communities back into the city proper.
This CPT line operates in the San Javier district, which include
the rapidly expanding and growing barrio neighbourhoods of
Vallejuelos and La Aurora.
N

La Aurora
Metro
Medelln

Valejuello

$$

Juan XXIII

Fare Cost: ~$1.00 (USD)

45

1,0

San Javier

920

* Catchment for visualization purposes only.

5m

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Want more?

If youre ready to move forward with a ropeway project, maybe


we should talk.
CUP and our network of ropeway technicians and engineers
can provide you with all the expertise you need to realize an
urban or tourist-oriented ropeway of your own.
Our services include (but are certainly not limited to):































Feasibility & Business Case Studies


Technical & Engineering Studies
Technical Drawings
System Commissioning & Certification
Operations Planning
Project Management
Risk Assessments
Implementation Planning
Environmental Analysis
Norms Identification
Staff Training
Spare Parts Assessment
Energy Requirements
Policy, Permitting & Concessioning
Procurement Services & Tendering
Ropeway Engineering and Design
Presentation Support
Speaking Engagements
Workshops & Training
Community Development & Engagement
Conceptual Design Studies
System Proposals
Cost Estimations
Political Liaison Services
Project Benchmarking
Media Relations
Operations & Maintenance Planning
Industry Liaison Services
Policy Analysis
Document Writing and Design
Static and Structural Calculations
Financing Support

Find us online at www.gondolaproject.com or visit our new


ropeway services page, now testing in Beta mode at www.
cable-car.net.

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ABOUT CUP
Creative Urban Projects Inc. (CUP or CUP Projects) is a small
planning, research and design studio located in downtown
Toronto, Canada and central Switzerland.
CUP was born out of the bizarre niche understanding and
interest in the application of ski-lift style gondola technology to
problems of mass public transit.
As one of the few urban planners in the world who specialized
on the topic, CUP Founder Steven Dale worked as a freelance
planning consultant, advisor and researcher to educate the
urban planning community about the merits and complexities
of this little understood technology.
After a couple of years working researching the technology,
building a client base and learning from his experience working
with alternative urban concepts and ideas, Steven founded a
new urban planning shop he called Creative Urban Projects.
Inspired partly by his upbringing in the arts, Steven intended the
firm to be a conduit for the city building industries to understand,
popularize, adapt and extrapolate those concepts, practices
and ideas that sometimes land on the fringes of orthodox
urban planning practice through no fault of their own.
Since then, CUPs business, staff and network of associates has
expanded rapidly to several continents and areas of practice.
Cable transit still remains the core of the business. To grow
that part of the business, CUP has forged a relationship with
ropeway veteran, Tino Imhuser, that now allows the company
to offer a full-slate of ropeway services from conception,
planning, engineering, installation and operations.
This growth has also allowed CUP to move into other areas
of research and expertise. CUP and its network of associates
offers a wide slate of professional planning and design services
that blend rigorous qualitative and quantitative analysis, highquality professionalism, and a creative method unique in
understanding the complexities of the urban form.

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Image Credits
Cover
Photo by Thomas Krummenacher. All rights reserved.
1.0 Introduction
Photo by CUP. All rights reserved.

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2.0 Technology
Photo by CUP. All rights reserved.
3.0 CPT Features
Photo by Aboutmovies. Used under Creative Commons
Attribution 3.0 Unported license from http://commons.
wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Portland_Tram_support_with_car.
JPG.

Creative Ur ban Projec ts

3.9 Service Quality


Photo by CUP. All rights reserved.
4.0 CPT & the Urban Landscape
Photo by Flickr user simononly. Used under Creative Commons
Attribution 2.0 Generic license from http://www.flickr.com/
photos/simononly/7859365682/.
4.5 Rapid Transit Extension
Photo by Flickr user Sebstian Freire. Used under Creative
Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license from
http://www.flickr.com/photos/doisbicudos/7370848130/.
5.0 System Profiles
Photo by Thomas Krummenacher. All rights reserved.
5.3 Medellin Line J
Photo by CUP. All rights reserved.

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