Question: Attendants versus No Attendants?

Post by Steven Dale

Station Attendants are standard practice in most every urban gondola system. Image by Steven Dale.

However, like most bottom-supported cable car stations, this Mandalay Bay Cable Car station is entirely devoid of station attendants. Image by Steven Dale.

Here’s a question: Why is it that the stations for bottom-supported cable car systems are almost never staffed with attendants whereas aerial systems always are?

This is something that just occurred to me the other day and I have no answer for it. Thoughts?


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  1. Train style cars instead of cabins with a lower number of trains instead of lots of cabins: Larger doors More space to move around inside car Longer dwell time Complete stop at station More of a grounded feel Can crowd a train more with people standing then a cabin which must be limited (attendants make sure a safe number in each cabin)
  2. Matt the Engineer
    None of these issues sound like show-stoppers. I keep going back to the concept of an elevator. Each elevator had an attendant at first, but over time we realized that was expensive and unnecessary. A gondola is not too different from a horizontal elevator. Here's how I imagine an attendant-free gondola working: 1. It should look like the second picture, not the first, to keep people away from moving machinery. 2. I would design the system to stop completely with a level boarding. This can be done in multiple ways. Ideally, you'd have, say, four doors that open in sequence. Like an elevator. 3. Just like an elevator, if maximum weight is exceeded an alarm sounds and the door won't close. The only issue I see is that it would be possible to keep cars from getting back on the line by holding a door open. Have some kids hold all 4 doors open and they could stop the whole line (can't keep bringing in cars if there are cars already there). So it seems there would have to be at least a remote attendant that can reach the station in a reasonable time. Maybe have one station staffed, and have a car.
  3. we are used to the subway format: long train, long mostly straight platform, colliding doors, etc... when urban gondolas become more common, maybe everyone will know how to board them. ...another reason may be the weight issue: the cabins (and grips, etc) are designed for a certain maximum weight, so there must be someone surveiling that each cabin is loaded within that limit.
  4. I believe, an urban ropeway station needs automated platform doors, to prevent accidents. And if a door doesn't closes, the gondola must drive slowly with open doors to a siding track of the gondola garage and the passengers have to change the gondola. The kids make this "game" only once.
  5. It is all about codes and standards people. The Mandalay Bay system pictured has station platform doors which isolate the passenger from the system while it is moving or not at the station. It is held to a much higher standard than a gondola as it is an APM and governed so. As far as I know no gondola has automated operation and the associated safeties involved and thus must have attendants. I believe this is laid out in Canada by the z98 CSA code. Subways as we know of them are legacy. I am shocked more cities are not putting platform walls and automated train control into their subways. Inherently safer and thus lower liability. I would never recommend a new subway not be built without platform doors.
  6. Hey Doug, Interesting perspective. So question: Could you not integrate platform walls/doors into a gondola station?
  7. Matt the Engineer
    My answer would be yes, if you designed the system to stop cars.
  8. Matt is correct, to have functional platform doors you would need the cabin to come to a standstill, most likely using a stow clutch. However, as always, the biggest problem is not the engineering it is getting the code committees on board with new or different technology applications.
  9. So are you suggesting that any of the perceived technological "barriers" to the technology have little to do with engineering and more to do with bureaucratic codes systems?
  10. At big slaughterhouses the dead cows are transported by a ring conveyor. The man who cuts it in two parts stands on a platform, which moves at the same time down and in the direction of the ring conveyor. Like this example the platform doors could move, situated on a conveyor belt, and one door closes, moves all elements away and so the next "door" opens. Why not?
  11. So when if someone is blocking the door from closing and it reaches the end of the loading zone the platform stops? Also people need to transition safely from the stationary floor to the moving platform. The spinning restaurant at the top of the Seattle space needle spins very slowly and people enter from the center where it is going slowest. Can you design the station so everyone enters/leaves at the center of the platform and the gondolas are on the outside? I'd say this is possible, though probably overkill.
  12. The codes should follow if a system that would allow different codes is demonstrated. Someone who doesn't require it must be convinced to build their gondola with complete stops and elevator-style double doors, This would open the technology to much lower traffic uses -- think sprawling office parks, or multiple dispersed "entrances" to a mass transit station. For higher capacity stations, and to resolve the door holding issue, I would say use gondolas with doors on both sides, then make a platform where gondolas going the same direction go down both sides. If one side gets stopped, they continue loading on the other side. If both sides get backed up, incoming gondolas stop before they have to commit to going one direction or the other, so when one side starts moving again they'll keep moving.
  13. Forget the platform doors on a conveyor belt. They are impossible. Just a stupid idea. I believe, some gondolas are moved with 0,5 m/s and some gondolas get to standstill on a different rail.
  14. Eric its interesting. But the angular velocity is constant. v1/r1=v2/r2. v1 is velocity of the gondola at the station, v2 is the velocity of the front vehicle edge, r1 is the radius of the middle of the gondola, r2 is r1 minus half the width of a gondola (for example: 4-(2,5/2) = 1,25 m). So you can calculate the velocitys of the front vehicle edge at different r1. Take v2 = 0,5 m/s, and then you see, that there is not so a big difference at r1 = 4 m. the difference is 0,16 m/s. It is only a big difference if you take a rotating platform and you take r2= 1 m. Why not a rotating platform?
  15. A rotating platform is a nice idea, but you need much energy to move the people with the platform, I believe.
  16. No, it is a great, great idea ! ! ! The platform does'nt rotate normaly, only if handicapped persons start it, the platform rotates.
  17. Matt the Engineer
    This same concept is done not only at rotating restaurants, but amusement park rides. I've seen this at several "log ride" style water rides. The logs continuously move and the circular platform moves along with them. The issue I see is that you still have moving equipment near unsupervised passengers. Though maybe this issue can be solved with video cameras and one or two monitor-watchers at some central station.
  18. Matt the Engineer
    Ok, or try this design: Picture a cylindrical room with no ceiling and doors every few feet along the wall. Now add two spiraling ramps to the center - one for entry and one for exit. The doors automatically open and close to a gondola. The only two surfaces (other than the automatic doors) that move relative to each other are the edge of the ramp and the floor. That should be easy enough to make safe - people get on and off of escalators just fine. Add an emergency button (like escalators have) at the bottom of the ramp, in case someone's shoelace gets stuck, but this should be quite safe.
  19. I think that platform doors can be integrated several different ways into existing gondola design. The big leap will be automation, which will require monitoring of cabin doors, platform doors, etc. This in turn requires a far greater level of complexity in terms of electrical equipment, control systems, and operational contingencies. It is not that unattended stations are technologically prohibitive, but that it is cheaper to have attendent on the platform as opposed to start doing business a different way. (that said, I am in partial agreement with the regulatory argument--existing codes and standards all pay homage to the station attendant.
  20. But at the subways, I know, there are'nt platform doors and they are unattended stations.

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