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Nov 07, 2009
Basic Lessons

Basic Lesson 1: What is Cable-Propelled Transit?

Post by admin

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

Proceed to Basic Lesson 2 to learn about Gondolas & Cable Cars



  • martin says:

    I’m an architecture student who is planning on doing a Masters Thesis involving a feasibility study for a wide-spread gondola network for mountainous suburbs like West Vancouver, and would like to know the typical costs associated with pylons, different-size vehicles, stations/turns, etc… or between different kinds of sub-categories. If you have any “typical” numbers, or precedents in terms of component costs, it would be of much help.


    • Steven Dale says:

      @ Martin:

      Probably best to check out the Aerial Transit technologies section in the Learn About Cable sidebar. You’ll find a fair bit of info there. Good luck! Though even I’ll admit to being a little bit skeptical about a “wide-spread gondola network.”

  • martin says:

    Thanks, that section was useful. Can you explain your skepticism about a wide-spread gondola network? For clarification, I’m talking about suburbs on a mountainside, where LRT lines can run on arterials roughly parallel to the contours, while funitel gondolas will run on old hydro corridors perpendicular to that. This is of course overkill for a mostly SFH/townhouse suburb, but I’m thinking it might be realistic to preserve the right-of-ways for such infrastructure in anticipation for mid-rise densities in the future.

  • LX says:

    Do you – by any chance – already have got early sketches you would like to share with us?

    Then Steven or others here can tell you why a wide-spread isn’t the real thing. But together we might work out some solutions. I’m looking forward seeing some sketches =)

  • martin says:

    Here’s a couple quick maps. Blue Lines/station markers represent gondola technology, green lines/station markers represent streetcar LRT.

    West Vancouver-


    Although many streets cannot be converted to a grid due to typography, a grid system for pedestrian access to stations can be achieved by a network of public staircases. The built form will be similar in scale to many Swiss villages, with 4-10 storey buildings on small footprints no bigger than that of the existing houses. Hopefully the overall effect will make these mountain suburbs even greener despite the higher density, by returning to nature 1/3rd of the existing land currently covered by driveways and detached houses.

    • Steven Dale says:

      @ Martin,

      The images you provided help a lot. Basically you’re using cable as a means to connect/feed other transit lines and “fill in” the network. That makes sense to me. You’re not using them as trunk lines, either, so I suspect you’re capacity will be alright. What kind of distances are the lines you’re proposing?

      My previous skepticism about a “wide-ranging gondola network” is that it sounded – on the surface – to be some gargantuan system of dozens of gondolas zig-zagging around everywhere. I tend to prefer a more phased, simplified approach where “quick wins” lead to bigger gains in the future.

      I’m very interested in seeing your project progress.

  • martin says:

    “What kind of distances are the lines you’re proposing?”

    The gondola lines range from 2.5km in the lines linking the 3 LRT’s in West Vancouver, to about 7km for one in Coquitlam that goes down into the valley, back up and down again (4.5km is visible in the pic). The two main lines in West vancouver are 800m apart, beginning at 2 ends of the city’s downtown and spread out to 1.5km apart near the top.

    Station spacings range from 400m to 800m. It seems inefficient, but the idea is that the stations that don’t connect to LRT (the majority of them) would be far more basic and with less dwell time/shorter distance between switches.

    Do you have any examples of multi-station gondolas?

    • Steven Dale says:

      @ Martin,

      Look at Medellin, Caracas and the Hungerburgbahn in Innsbruck (not a gondola, but cable nonetheless). None of the lengths you’re proposing seem too long.

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