6 Iconic (and Important) Aerial Trams

Post by Steven Dale

The other day I was pretty hard on Aerial Trams for being obsolete, expensive and inefficient members of the cable transit family. Because of their place in history, however, many of the most iconic and important cable transit systems ever built were Aerial Trams, a point I failed to mention. Here are 6 of them:

6. The Vanoise Express

The Vanoise Express in France. Image by hchalkley at flickr.

One of the world’s only double-decker Aerial Trams, this Dual Shuttle system in France can carry a whopping 200 people in each cabin! Opened in 2003, the system was shut down in 2007 for repairs after a vehicle operator failed to slow the vehicle down upon entering the station. The accident caused no injuries and the system was reopened the following season.

5. The Portland Aerial Tram

The Portland Aerial Tram in Oregon, USA. Image by neighborhoods.org at flickr.

Known as much for its architectural splendor as for its controversial routing the Portland Aerial Tram has become an integral part of that city’s transit infrastructure. Transporting almost 2 million people per year, the system happily experiences ridership twice what was forecasted (a rarity in transit planning) and its elegant towers and vehicle design show how cable transit can be a beautiful part of a city’s infrastructure.

4. The Sugarloaf Cable Car

The Sugar Loaf Mountain Cable Car in Rio de Janeiro. Image by Diego_3336 at flickr.

Iconic to no end, the Sugarloaf Cable Car is actually two systems connected serially at the top of Morro de Açúcar. The system shuttles tourists and locals from Rio de Janeiro to the top of Sugarloaf Mountain. Dating from 1912, it is one of the oldest Aerial Tram systems in the world. While the 1912 route is unchanged to this day, the system itself was rebuilt in the early 70’s.

3. The Gangtok Ropeway

The Gangtok Ropeway in India. Image by lawtonjm at flickr.

The little known Gangtok Ropeway in India transports the 30,000 villagers of Gangtok from downtown to two outlying suburbs. It is the only fixed link transit line in the city and is most notable for being one of the very few Aerial Trams in the world that utilize a mid-station.

2. The Teleférico de Mérida

The Teleférico de Mérida in Venezuela. Image by blmurch at flickr.

The Teleférico de Mérida in Venezuela is on this list for two major reasons: Firstly, its upper terminal on Pico Espego is the highest in the world at an altitude of 4,765 meters (15,633 feet). Secondly, the system is actually 4 separate lines arranged serially allowing the system to span a total 13.2 kilometers (8.2 miles). Opened in 1960, the system has proved surprisingly resilient. It wasn’t until 2008 that the system was closed in preparations for a rebuild in the near future.

1. The Roosevelt Island Tram

The Roosevelt Island Tram in New York City. Image by NYCUrbanScape at flickr.

Perhaps the most well-known cable transit line in the world, the Roosevelt Island Tram opened in the mid 1970’s to connect Manhatten with the new residential community on Roosevelt Island. The connection was supposed to be temporary, but has since become a permanent fixture. Even after New York’s Metro system was extended to Roosevelt Island, the Tram remained popular and was fully-integrated into Metro’s farecard system. The Tram is currently being rebuilt with new cabins and Dual Shuttle configuration It should reopen to the public early next year.

Want more? Purchase Cable Car Confidential: The Essential Guide to Cable Cars, Urban Gondolas & Cable Propelled Transit and start learning about the world's fastest growing transportation technologies.

Want more? Purchase Cable Car Confidential: The Essential Guide to Cable Cars, Urban Gondolas & Cable Propelled Transit and start learning about the world's fastest growing transportation technologies.


  1. Ligaya Kirkland
    I am assign to search for supplier of CPT. We are looking on purchasing 240 CPT. Any help will be appreciated. Thanks.
  2. Going to have to supply me with more information than that. I'm also not sure what 240 CPT means. Please feel free to contact me at gondola (at) creativeurbanprojects (dot) com and we can continue this conversation.
  3. I am a member of citizens' transit advocate group in the Lake Tahoe area which is proposing creation of a regional inter-modal mass transit system based on an interconnected web of aerial tramways. How do I get this proposal posted on your site?
  4. @ Jeff, I'll send you an email regarding this.

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