The Gondola Project Profiled In The Toronto Star (Again)

Post by Steven Dale

Yesterday The Gondola Project was featured in The Toronto Star in a piece called Looking to the skies for answers: A second look at gondola transit. It was, for all intents and purposes, a follow-up piece to their story from 2 years ago about the work we’ve been doing around these parts (which landed on the front page of the paper, above the fold).

The basic gist of the article is to demonstrate the progress the technology has made over the last 2 years, and to question why Toronto – with it’s rather unique urban topography of ravines and valleys – has yet to explore the possibilities, which is odd given the degree of attention the technology has received from other Canadian municipalities.

Toronto's "network" of ravines and valleys (in green) demonstrate that while the city is commonly thought to be flat, it is anything but - hence providing a topographical opportunity to implement gondola technology. Image via the City of Toronto.

The article’s conclusion is not unlike Nick Chu’s post from a couple of weeks ago that argues the reason cities like Laval (Montreal), Calgary and Burnaby (Vancouver) are more positive on the technology than Toronto is due to their proximity to world class alpine ski resorts.

It’s an opinion I certainly share but am hesitant to believe that to be the sole factor. At the same time, I’m not entirely sure what other factors may be coming in to play.

So as a great deal of our readership comes from good old Hogtown (Toronto), let’s throw the question out there: Why is Toronto reluctant to look at cable transit? Is it merely a question of not having used the systems at world class ski hills? Or is there something else that needs to be considered?

I’d certainly love to know because as we’ve pointed out before, Toronto would be a perfect fit for the technology.

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  1. skiing planners or not, people only think of gondolas for hilly terrain
  2. *many people
  3. Matt the Engineer
    Two comments on the comments over there. What's up with Canadians and the Simpson's Monorail episode? It's bizzare to me. I live in a city with a monorail - and it's one of the few transit systems in the US that pays for itself in fairbox recovery. And secondly - again with "gondolas can't handle our winters". A technology developed for ski slopes can't handle a little snow or freezing rain?!
  4. I don't think it's a uniquely Canadian phenomenon but, man, am I so tired of the Simpsons Monorail episode joke. :) As for the winters/ski lift thing . . . You got me . . .
  5. re: ridiculous comments "I hate to see the scenario when helicopters have to be deployed in rescue missions when freezing rain suddenly falls and cables are all clogged up." I like how someone decided that freezing rain will stop the (ski) gondola from functioning, but would be appropriate conditions for a helicopter to operate in...
  6. Matt the Engineer
    I've certainly never heard a reference to it in the US, it seems to be a common comment in every Canadian article about gondolas - enough that you've even written a post about it. I saw the episode when it came out years ago, but wouldn't have been able to tell you that there was a song, let alone quote it. And let me be clear - if there were any city in the US where I would have heard such a reference, it would be here in Seattle. Less than a decade ago we nearly built an entire monorail system, and got as far as breaking ground before our mayor cancelled the project (thanks to a bad financing scheme). Anyway. Monorails aren't a great idea because they're non-standard, and cheaper off-the-shelf light rail components do about the same job. But there's nothing fundamentally wrong with the technology.
  7. the "gondola doesnt work in cold weather argument" boggles the mind. i kno its been said before but how is it that ppl not realize that cable lifts are designed to operate in snowy/icy conditions?! this is obviously an important message that is being lost.
  8. I read a claim once that small cities are the innovative ones, and if ideas come out of big cities then it is usually from someone who has moved there from a small city. The inference being that big city people are busy with their lives, stuck in traffic, having coffee, etc, and the economy of big cities have a momentum where they don't have to innovate as much to keep up. And it's expensive to live in a big city so its residents are busy working hard to pay the mortgage and they can't afford to take risks. I dunno if there is any hard data supporting such a claim, but ... Toronto is a big city. Maybe it's too big to be innovative. Then again the local politics in small towns can be, how do we politely say this, a bit provincial and backwards. Look at the demise of Palmy Link in Palmerston North, New Zealand for instance. With Mayor Ford maybe Toronto is really just a big small town. Maybe it's got the worst aspects of both big and small cities. And it's broke, ain't it?
  9. Matt the Engineer
    I'd like to hear where you read that. I recommend The Gated City. Ryan Avent seems to make the opposite claim*. Innovation happens at large cities, though they can shed their innovators to smaller cities once they've refined their ideas. * Though I'm only half way through the book - he may agree with you later on.
  10. Matt the Engineer, ah it must have been 20 years ago and I cannae remember.
  11. so many Matts!

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