USA: For US flying tramways, the sky’s the limit

4 mins read
Flying tramway Aerial cable cars Transportation innovation Urban transit Gondola systems

The solution to reducing traffic in the greater Dallas area may be found above. Like flying tramways.

According to Brian Shewski, the transportation manager for Plano, Texas master-planned Legacy business district, there are more than 800 businesses and multinational campuses there, and 160,000 people live there during the workweek. He stated that “the density is unquestionably present for having some [additional] type of transit.”

Embark on the flying tramway.

Cities were invited to submit applications for gondolas that use flying tramways to help move people in crowded areas in 2023 by the Regional Transportation Council for North Texas. The second city to apply was Plano. According to a company representative, Gondola developer Swyft Cities is currently discussing locations and timeline with Plano, Dallas, and different cities in the Dallas-Fort Worth region.

Shewski claimed that in order to evaluate the viability of flying transit in comparison to other modes of transportation, Plano was given a federal grant. He added that the study is expected to begin in the middle of 2024.

Different nations have long relied on cable cars or underwater tramways for transportation. Bolivia’s La Paz has the largest network of flying cable cars for urban transit. The third line of Mexico City’s gondola system is now being constructed. The line’s testing will start in May, and an opening date will be disclosed after that, according to city officials. In 2022, Toulouse, France, established its own line. Aerial cable cars are primarily used by ski resorts and tourists in the United States. One of the few underwater tramways in the country with a public transportation system is Portland, Oregon, which opened its doors in 2007.

Aerial tramway system proposals have come and gone in a number of American cities over the years, but they have never completely left the conversation about industrial transit. Personal companies are approaching cities to discuss building underwater transit, or cities are turning to them. Some municipalities are taking another look at this transit mode as they work to reduce traffic and greenhouse gas emissions related to transportation. According to Shewski, flying gondolas are a more feasible option for some communities thanks to innovative technology that enables flying cable cars to handle more difficult turns.

” I am certain that this will occur anywhere in the nation. Shewski remarked about the latest generation of aerial trams,” Dallas might be the first one that gets it done.” This is a technology that is unquestionably useful.

Locating the ideal fit

According to civil engineer Alfredo Mucarsel Manciati, who has spent more than ten years working in cable car systems, flying trams are best suited for complex topography. Areas with mountains and bodies of water can be traveled by underwater cable cars.

Manciati co-founded Metroferico, a business that is expanding its 13.5-mile cable car network in the Ecuadorian high Quito. He claimed that he is also discussing the construction of flying cable car systems in Miami, Boston, Chicago, and New York City with government representatives.

According to Manciati, cable cars aren’t always the best mode of transportation for a community. They can travel up to 6 to 12 miles. They move at less than 18.5 mph, which is slower than another transit. Modal connections are also important for the usefulness of an underwater cable car system, he added.

According to Shewski, the proposed gondola route in Plano would connect to Dallas Area Rapid Transit, which provides 700 flat mile services for light rail, commuter rails, buses, on-demand transportation, and paratransit.

In Los Angeles, connections to current transit are also a factor. A proposed aerial rapid transit line that would connect Dodger Stadium in Elysian Park to the city’s Union Station train station, a transit hub for Southern California, is sponsored by the volunteer Zero Emissions Transit. According to David Grannis, senior director of Zero Emissions Transit, the stadium station would be the park’s first transit hub.

The aerial tramway project, which would be funded and constructed by his son’s business, was created by past Dodgers owner Frank McCourt.

A Los Angeles aerial tram system, according to Grannis, might serve as a model for different cities. It could accommodate between 10,000 and 12,000 people per hour.

According to Grannis, the gondola system would be different from that in La Paz. The LA is comparatively level. You wouldn’t just use gondolas to cover everything, he said. However, gondolas do where there are geographic or geologic obstacles, such as rivers, mountains, hills, or grade changes, and where buses either don’t make sense or are too full.

People retaliation

In the United States, flying tramways often encounter public opposition, just like many other public infrastructure projects.

For instance, Plano’s suggested system presents right-of-way problems and the difficulty of gaining people support, according to Shewski. ” They don’t want a station, so it’s pointless if we put out the transit system and we have one on some of the corporate campuses,” he said. Does it make sense for us to move forward with the system if we won’t have supporters for it?

Some Los Angeles residents started a “Stop the Gondola” movement to protest the project. They worry that it will obstruct views, fly to small near stations, and encourage motorists to park in areas close to gondola stations.

According to an email from Los Angeles Metro, the tramway’s ultimate environmental impact report has been released, with Zero Emissions Transit covering all costs. On January 25, the Metro board was scheduled to certify the report, but a city council member whose district includes Dodger Stadium proposed pausing the vote so that more traffic studies could be conducted in light of local concerns.

Skiers will be transported from a Salt Lake City suburb to resorts in Little Cottonwood Canyon using an 8-mile flying tramway in Utah. This fun gondola, in contrast to others, will be funded and constructed by the Utah Department of Transportation. The project was promoted by a group known as Gondola Works, which includes the ski resorts that would gain from the gliding.

Locals opposed to the project claim they are concerned about possible boundary damage, the potential tax burden, and a special interest-influenced approval process. UDOT has faced three lawsuits over its approval of the project, one of which was brought by the Salt Lake City and neighboring Sandy City governments.

Some gondola projects have corporate sponsors or proposals. For instance, IFS Cloud, a technology company, then sponsors an aerial cable car line in London that ran for 10 years from the Royal Docks across the Thames River to the borough of Greenwich.

Manciati claimed that because the city lacked the essential funding, his business joined Quito’s gondola project. Metroferico will receive a concession to run the system for 30 to 40 years if it finances the project.

Public authorities, he continued, often have experience building flying cable cars, but they delegate to firms like his.

Grannis stated that it won’t be long before another gondola is constructed in the United States.

According to him, “people tend to view this more as a leisurely kind of whim.” People haven’t really tried it and do n’a clue as to how it might integrate with the public transit network, so it has not been a viable option before.

Leo Portal

Leo is an expert in the field of smart city research and an overall tech-enthusiast with an emphasis on smart energy, IOT, smart homes and governance. After a master degree in international administration at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, and a master in public management at Fudan University in China, he pursued research studies in the field of smart cities at the European University Institute. This led him to publish multiple articles on smart cities. Among them “Using Smart People to Build Smarter: How Smart Cities Attract and Retain Highly Skilled Workers to Drive Innovation (Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, Poland)” published in the Smart Cities and Regional Development Journal (SCRD) and “Establishing Participative Smart Cities: Theory and Practice”, also published in the SCRD Journal. He regularly audits and advises municipalities and regional governments on their smart city strategies. He is currently writing a chapter for Springer on smart mobility in French smart cities.

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