Three Metro Atlanta Cities To Explore Urban Gondolas

Post by Gondola Project

MARTA proposed expansion. Image by MARTA.

MARTA proposed expansion. Image by MARTA.

Just days after we asked the question, “Will the US Become the Next Hub for Urban Gondolas?”, three metro Atlanta cities, Sandy Springs, Dunwoody, and Brookhaven have announced their intentions to study ropeways as a transportation alternative.

This means that over a dozen US cities are now exploring (or about to explore) Cable Propelled Transit (CPT).

Sandy Springs Mayor, Rusty Paul, has come out in support of studying all types of transportation, whether it is monorails, heavy rail or gondolas. However, what appealed to the Mayor appears to the cost-effectiveness and “fun” aspect of urban gondolas.

At this time, the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) is the midst of some major debates over what could be worth $8 billion of transit investment. And yesterday, these plans took one step closer to reality as the Senate Transportation Committee approved a bill that would ask DeKalb and Fulton residents to vote on a half a penny to expand transit.

This vote may occur as quickly as November 2016 and if passed would set the stage for the state’s largest infrastructure project.

What is perhaps the most interesting is that the language of the first bill specifically required expansion through “heavy rail”. However, “heavy rail” was amended to “transit” before the current bill was approved.

This is great news to all transportation professionals who believe that techno-zealotry has no place in today’s transit debates. As urban planners, we feel that every transit proposal (and associated technologies, whether it’s LRT, BRT, CPT etc) should be assessed equally based on merit, and not one’s preconceived notions.

Slowly but surely, this is starting to hold true for gondolas.

Special thanks to Jonathan D. for sharing this story with us. 


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. Doesn't the U.S. require that their public transit systems be capable of emergency evacuation? How do you evacuate a gondola when it is hanging from a cable?
  2. It depends on the situation. Gondolas are built and engineered to very high standards and emergency evacuations are rare. Back up diesel engines are designed into systems in case of primary engine failure. In newer systems, Doppelmayr has installed the recovery concept where redundancies are built into a cable car (i.e. motors, drives, bearings, special tools) to ensure cabins are returned to stations for rescue.
  3. If what you say is true, then why does the Doppelmayr Cabin Liner installation on the Oakland Airport Connector line have a metal catwalk along the whole length of the elevated portion of the line? To say that there is equipment redundacy is of no comfort to passengers who have to evacuate a gondola immediately. For any gondola public transit system that is longer than a short shuttle service, I do not see how it can meet a first world safety standard.
  4. I think it's part of an overall education effort. To assess something objectively, looking at stats and numbers from other systems is often helpful. Data from the USA (via NSAA) reveals that aerial lifts are amongst the safest forms of transport in the world (if not the safest). Check out this recent post: https://www.gondolaproject.com/2016/01/19/a-reminder-on-cable-car-safety/. Also, one main reason why the technology is safe is because of the industry's commitment to passenger safety. The systems are engineered to meet and exceed some of the strictest standards. For instance, ropeways in Europe must follow CEN norms. Feel free to browse around the website to learn more.
  5. Even worse case when a mechanical failure prevents a gondola system from moving, manual evacuation by rope is a relatively simple process. Because all lift towers have ladders on them, access is actually quite simple. Rescuers ride specialized "bicycles" to each cabin, open the doors manually and belay passengers down one at a time. It's not something anyone wants to have happen but it does occur from time to time when circumstances prevent operation. In my experience, many people actually enjoy being evacuated from a lift once they realize how it all works. Bottom line is any reputable lift operation has a plan and trained personnel to carry out an evacuation should one become necessary.
  6. Buses are capable of emergency evacuation. Gondolas are not. Also, buses are relatively inexpensive. Consequently, there is no need to consider gondolas to meet a first world safety standard for public transit.
  7. @Dave: We love buses too! We're urban planners with a background and understanding of all transport modes (i.e. LRT, bus, BRT, monorails, etc). Remember the point of this website is not to say that gondolas are the best and we need to build them everywhere. Rather, gondolas are great in certain applications and planners should explore its feasibility on its technical capabilities, rather than one's preconceived notions of what gondolas can or cannot do. In other words, it's merely one tool in a transit planner's toolbox.
  8. @ Peter: Thanks for adding to the comments!
  9. Which kinds of evacuation system are present in subways/metro? in some like London there is even no space left in tunnels for safely walking, and nowhere in world (AFAIK) there is equipment for evacuate a wheelchair user. But this don't seem to be a priority...and millions of people use them even if they have much higher risk respect CPT

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