Posts Tagged: Gadgetbahn



Gadgetbahn: A Definition

In Saturday’s post, I was accused by commenter Justin Bernard of being a promotor of “gadgetbahn.” This isn’t the first time I’ve been accused of this, nor do I suspect it will be the last.

But let’s get to the core of the accusation; the real heart of what Justin is saying. In Justin’s mind, Cable Propelled Transit and Urban Gondolas are “gadgetbahn” and according to Wiktionary, we can define gadgetbahn thusly:

It is a portmaneau of the English gadget, and the German word Bahn… (slang, transport, pejorative) In public transport, transportation concepts which seem to be infeasible or unnecessary.

Now let’s just assume that this is the accepted definition (difficult, I know, as we’re talking about a wiki definition) of gadgetbahn.

The successful implementation of Urban Gondolas in Medellin and Caracas has proven the technology to be more than feasible. Linea K, the first CPT system built in Medellin is only 2 km long and moves 40,000 people per day, approximately the same number of people moved by Toronto’s 501 Queen streetcar line – which is over 25 km long! That Linea K was built for the bargain price of only USD $12.5 million per kilometer speaks to the technology’s feasibility.

As for the necessity of the technology: How else would you serve isolated mountainside barrios? Rail is incapable of inclinations above 10 degrees and these areas were so unplanned and disorganized, bus routes were scattered, haphazard and slow. After implementing the Metrocable in Medellin commute times were cut by half. Necessity here seems to be proven.

The irony of Justin’s comment turns on his desire to defend LRT, a technology often shown to be one of the most unnecessary (based on poor ridership numbers) and economically infeasible (based on high capital costs) technologies around.

That’s not to say LRT is not a strong technology. Like any technology (cable and gondolas included), when LRT is implemented properly and in the right environment it can be successful. Implemented incorrectly, it can become a fiscal albatross.

The Gondola Project is about opening eyes. Throwing around words like “gadgetbahn” just slams eyes shut.

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