Dual Mode Gondolas – Hook and Anchor

Post by Gondola Project

Over the past week and half, we’ve discussed two hybrid/dual-mode transit technologies – AutoTram and DMVs. To build on this topic, I was contemplating if such a concept could apply to Cable Propelled Transit (CPT). I asked myself: what if a gondola cabin could be both propelled from above and below?

Well, I decided to whip something up quickly today to demonstrate my design concept. If you’ll pardon my photoshop skills and the crude images, I’d like to briefly showcase a purely conceptual CPT idea, the Hook and Anchor (patent pending, but of course).

A vehicle that can travel both terrestrially and aerially can be advantageous in a city context. Image by Nicholas Chu, CUP Projects.

Imagine a detachable grip vehicle/cabin with the capability to “anchor” itself like a cable liner/cable car, but also have the ability to “hook” itself like a gondola. Would this idea solve some of complicated alignment and visual privacy issues often found in cities?

It is difficult to say at this time because this idea is so raw. But under the right circumstances, this theoretical configuration may mitigate some of the complex land use and settlement patterns seen in urban environments.

For example, this design may enable vehicles to manoeuvre themselves around complex turns and spaces in “anchor” mode but also soar above topographical (natural and man-made) challenges in “hook” mode. See hypothetical usage and illustration below.

In theory, a vehicle in "hook" mode can glide above urban obstacles such as intersections. Image by Nicholas Chu, CUP Projects.

Now I’m not an engineer, so I am unsure if this concept is technologically feasible. But I hope that this post and the ones preceding it, can help spur and initiate a conversation and discussion on how “simple” (I use that term loosely) technological innovations/changes can help us rethink transportation in cities.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments on such a concept. Possible? Impossible? Insane? Sane? Feel free to be brutally honest.

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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. Matt the Engineer
    Sure - why not? I like your way-out-of-the-box thinking. I could even imagine doing this with buses. Issues: 1. Weight of structure required for ground running (wheels, frame, possibly even an engine) could require much more structure and strength in your ropeway system. 2. You'd need grade separation, or you might throw off your gondola mode. 3. If you don't grade separate then you'll need a driver in each car - that shifts the concept to more of an aerial tram than a gondola. For simplicity, you might want to skip the detaching piece of this. Keep the cable on top even when running on wheels.
  2. I doubt if moving on the ground level in anchor mode is a good idea. In the last picture the cable kinks over the tower so dramatically. This results in bigger loads on the towers and faster wear-out of the cable. The gondola may move, take turns, etc, on the same height in anchor mode that it does in grip mode. But that's AFAIK exactly what they do now at turning stations: detach from the cable and move upon a rail. The problem is that the stations are large and expensive to build. The other possibility is the vehicle that goes most of the time on its own, like cars do; and grips the cable only when there is an obstacle to be crossed, e. g. a river. But a cableway with platforms designed to carry cars may be a better solution in this situation: it doesn't require all cars to carry a clumsy grip system on top of them.
  3. Its possible and very simple - just look to automated sea containers handling. Have a look to Altenwerder Container Terminal in Hamburg (interesting videos also) - they move rougly more than 125 containers/hour in fully automatized mode - ship to AGV carrier to storage to truck or train. There's no technical reason why a similar system can't be adapted to a multi-modal rail-road-gondola network
  4. Well if i go to work i have to change trains at the main station. Technically the train could go all the way from my hometown the the place i work. But in mass transit it is not possible to provide a single seat ride to everybody. So since most passengers have to transfer to another vehicle anyway it is more cost effective to use only single mode vehicles. Dual mode means also dual maintenance, dual cost etc. Whats the use to built a complex hook and anchor system when most passengers need to transfer anyway. Simple build lines for suspended and lines for supported vehicles. If the have well designed transfer station nobody would bother to use dual mode vehicles.
  5. A gondola bus reminded me of this: https://www.gondolaproject.com/2009/11/11/sky-riding-bus/ I'd imagine if a cable on top was kept, then it'd be unnecessary infrastructure cost.
  6. Of course the drawings are unrefined. The ascent and descent of the gondola cabin gliding above an intersection would likely be more gradual than what I've depicted. In that case, if the gondola cabins were similar to the ones seen in an MDG, or even TDG (3S) system, I'd imagine the stress and wear-out on the cables to be comparable (however, I'm not a ropeway engineer).
  7. Do you have a good video link of this? That'd be incredible if it works. Somehow adapting port container transport into urban transit...
  8. Good point. Well-designed transfer points are critical and make travel much more pleasant. It seems from my experience, this is not always the case. Passengers often go out of their way to avoid a transfer, even if it means spending more time in a vehicle and/or taking a less direct route to their destination. Also, every time a passenger transfers, there's the dreaded wait time. Unless you have quick headways between vehicles, this can be a major hurdle to overcome (in terms of attracting more users to transit).
  9. It's not exactly what you're talking about...but check out the Galzig Bahn in St. Anton, Austria. www.youtube.com/watch?feature=iv&src_vid=vzKbMHBzC5A&annotation_id=annotation_798378&v=eRV4i7Bcg9k The owners in this case wanted the funitel to load and unload at grade so Doppelmayr developed a system to lower the cabins and transit them around for passengers to load and unload at street level in the valley station.
  10. Here are some... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8BnVCv9ZRqY http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0_BDbm6x1ug and the best one ... http://youtu.be/S76BmSCu0cA
  11. Sounds feasible to me. Gondolas already switch to rigid track support and then back to cable support as they enter and leave stations, and that's all at high speed. Of course they're usually supported by rubber tires in station, but there's no reason why this shouldn't also be possible with steel wheels, or the rubber tires could be kept. Paris and Montreal both use rubber tired metro very successfully. The inclines involved in switching modes also should be manageable; gondolas already handle this entering and leaving stations. Basically this idea should be understood as a very long station, but with the cabins staying attached to the haul rope and maintaining full speed. It is best though to maintain top support even in 'anchor' mode. This way grips aren't duplicated. The cabins can be designed with only one support point and consistent stresses. This makes them simpler, lighter and cheaper. I would also say it's advantages to allow the cabins to continue to 'swing' from the support in 'anchor' mode. This way cabins remain level on steep inclines and you also gain the advantages of a hybrid funicular, like this: https://www.gondolaproject.com/2009/12/28/the-innsbruck-hungerburgbahn/
  12. It is simply not possible to provide a one seat ride for most of the passengers. Just ask your colleagues at work or you family member where they will go. Even with a limited set of people there will be most likely no route which can serve all. Fromm Jeepneys to streetcars to the most advances automated metros. Public transit is always line haul. Means vehicles ply a route and passengers get on and of the vehicle. Yes different routes can be shared by more than one line. It is also very obvious why rentals at major interchanges are so high. More people can reach it without transfer. Wait time for gondolas are very short , certainly less than a minute maybe less than a half minute. Modern automated metros also have less than a minute headway. So almost no time is lost for a transfer
  13. I like that idea of using a cableway with platforms! It's basically an adaptation of . . . . the Cincinnati Funiculars: (https://www.gondolaproject.com/2009/12/07/cincinnati-funiculars/ ) . . . and the Volkswagen plant in Slovakia: https://www.gondolaproject.com/tag/volkswagen/ Do we have precedent for any such idea? Are there any interurban transit systems whereby a bus or tram drives onto a ferry, for example.
  14. I would think this would be perfectly possible - just look at detachable lifts. You would be able to have some sort of a transition between the two, but I don't see how anything could really get in the way. Grips are used on the bottom and top and the cabins go on their way.
  15. I think the question is: So it can work? Do we see it happening?
  16. It will take time . Intermodality is a "new" concept, and its just 25/30 years that is a standard for goods transports. Nobody in mass transport has even ever thought to such a concept, mostly because people -differently from goods- are self-moving... But a metro/LRT line with a couple of main trunks on rail, and diramations on gondola could be really an efficient solution, and could spare money too, since won't be anymore necessary big underground stations with big escalators or elevators. Just choose the right cab for your final destination - a color code is simple, hop into the metro wagon, at end station your blue cab is carried to the blue gondola line , the red one on another line ... I will send some sketches.

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