Feb 18, 2013

Wanna Learn About Cable Cars?

One question I’m repeatedly asked is some variation on this: Why is it so hard to learn about cable and meet people within the cable transit industry? How does one even start in the industry?  Want a simple (albeit overly so) answer to the question? Consider this: There is no known university or college in...

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Mar 04, 2010
Analysis, Hamilton, Thoughts, Urban Planning & Design


For most of your career you didn’t need to know anything about cable. Not anything. Nothing. What transit planner, engineer, policy-maker or advocate bothers with ski-lifts? That’s not transit, that’s a toy for tourists. You could ignore it. You didn’t need to learn about it and your boss never asked about it. No politician mentioned...

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Mar 01, 2010
Analysis, Cable Cars, Case Studies, Installations, Las Vegas, Urban Planning & Design

Mandalay Bay Cable Car, Part 1

I recently travelled to Las Vegas, Nevada to explore that city’s two public cable systems. This is Part 1 of a 3 Part report on the Mandalay Bay Cable Car. In the late 1990’s, the MGM group wanted to build a new casino in Las Vegas. The new casino – dubbed The Mandalay Bay –...

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Jan 12, 2010

Aerial Technologies, Lesson 1: Introduction

With most traditional transit technologies, there is little consideration about the variations within that technology. A bus is a bus; a streetcar is a streetcar; and a subway is a subway. Sure, there’s variation between suppliers and models, but those differences are negligible compared to the overall technologies themselves. That’s one of the real competitive...

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Jan 07, 2010

What Changed?

(Check out this fascinating video of a San Francisco Cable Car in action, days before the 1906 earthquake. Tnanks to Ron Wm. Hurlbut for pointing it out!) Lot’s of people have asked of me a variation of the following question: If cable’s so great, why did we change all our cable cars to electric ones...

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Jan 01, 2010
Analysis, Research Issues, Thoughts, Urban Planning & Design

Passenger Safety

It’s a new year, folks! Congratulations, we survived another one! My column yesterday attracted the site’s first Rabble and I don’t expect it to be the last. Among “thickslab’s” (please don’t post anonymously on this site, folks, and try to be respectful) concerns was the issue of passenger safety. I don’t mean in the sense...

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Dec 23, 2009
Light Rail & Streetcars, Thoughts, Urban Planning & Design

The Cost of Light Rail

I tend to pick on Light Rail for a reason. It’s a technology akin to the average beauty contestant. It looks good on the outside, but is kind of useless on the inside. Subways (HRT) can move hordes of people quickly and buses can move a moderate number of people cheaply, but Light Rail seems...

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Nov 13, 2009
Aerial Trams, Basic Lessons, Funiculars

Basic Lesson 3: Aerial Trams & Funiculars

There are two minor sub-groups of CPT technology:  Aerial Trams and Funiculars. Aerial Trams are like larger Gondolas.  I’ll discuss this technology in greater detail later. Generally speaking, however, Aerial Trams are (relative to Gondolas) an out-dated mode of Cable-Propelled Transit.  Compared with Gondola technology, Aerial Trams exhibit longer wait times between vehicles; lower line...

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Nov 10, 2009
Basic Lessons, Cable Cars, Gondola

Basic Lesson 2: Gondolas & Cable Cars

There are two major sub-groups of Cable-Propelled Transit (CPT) technology:  Gondolas and Cable Cars. Gondolas are supported and propelled from above by cables.  Most people are familiar with this technology as used in alpine ski-resorts, however it is finding increased usage in non-alpine urban regions. Cable Cars on the other hand, are supported and propelled...

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Nov 07, 2009
Basic Lessons

Basic Lesson 1: What is Cable-Propelled Transit?

Simply speaking, Cable-Propelled Transit (CPT) is a transit technology that moves people in motor-less, engine-less vehicles that are propelled by a steel cable. Proceed to Basic Lesson 2 to learn about Gondolas & Cable Cars

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