Posts Tagged: Human Transit



Weekly Roundup: Techno-Fetishism, A Trapped Woman & More Burnaby Mountain

A few highlights from around the world of Urban Gondolas, Gondola Transit, and Cable Propelled Transit:

  • Jarrett Walker of Human Transit indulges in a little bit of “technology fetishism” by profiling the Wellington Cable Car.
  • Provincial Member of Parliament Kennedy Stewart indicates that he will launch his own public consultation process in regards to the controversial Burnaby Mountain Gondola.
  • The Chair of Tourism Squamish issues a public endorsement of the Squamish Sea to Sky Gondola.
  • Briton Nigel Carter is petitioning Brighton and Hove City Council to assess plans for a city-wide cable car. Information is scant, but phrases like “city-wide” don’t exactly inspire confidence in the scheme. If you’re British and think this is worth looking at, sign the e-petition here.
  • At a People Movers seminar in Britain, individuals associated with the London Thames Cable Car describe the benefits of cable cars and gondolas. Given the cost-overruns of the London Thames Cable Car, one can only hope they didn’t list cost-efficiency as one of said benefits.
  • Speaking of the London Thames Cable Car: It now has a sponsor – Emirates Airline. According to London Reconnections, Emirates will purchase the naming rights of the system for a whopping £36m. The system will be called The Emirates Air Line. Take a look:


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.



The Gondola Project: Obsessive Guys Who Love Gondola Transit?

The internet’s a funny thing.

It’s so easy to take things out of context, misinterpret or just generally get all riled up about something that turns out to be nothing. Without that in-person interactive component, virtually anything can be misunderstood – and typically is.

Which is why I’m torn about a recent post over at Human Transit. In the post, Jarrett says this:

The possession of the tool, and the knowledge of how to use it, becomes a feature by which a group defines itself and sets itself in opposition to other interests.

If you don’t think this still happens, look at all the clubs and forums for people who own and cherish a particular tool — a Linux-powered computer, say, or a certain musical instrument.  If you read an online forum about such possessions, you’ll see the practical work of exchanging troubleshooting tips also builds a community in which people love hearing each other’s stories about life with the cherished tool.

So this is another thing that’s going on behind the obsessive attachment to transit technologies. People who love aerial gondolas (link his, bold mine) or whatever can now network worldwide with every city that runs one, compare notes about each other’s problems and achievements, and thus form a global community based on love of that particular tool.  Psychologically, it’s just like a club of guys who all own a particular kind of car, or computer, or electric guitar, or whatever.

Leaving aside the merits of his argument, what is one to make of Jarrett’s comment about aerial gondolas and his link to The Gondola Project?

There are, I think, two ways to look at it; one positive and one negative. First the negative:

It’s nothing more than a less-than-subtle broadside and a low blow.

The Gondola Project, as envisioned by Human Transit. Image by buhtterfly.

Calling The Gondola Project community nothing more than a group of “people who love aerial gondolas” with an “obsessive attachment” doesn’t inspire much faith in the community nor the technology itself. It also completely discounts the achievements cable has experienced in the last 10 years.

Furthermore, comparing The Gondola Project to “a club of guys who all own a particular kind of car, or computer, or electric guitar, or whatever” is off base. The phrasing is intentionally derisive here: No one is a professional. Everyone is just a “guy” united solely by the fact that they own a piece of hardware. Everyone is an amateur.

Doesn’t matter that many of The Gondola Project’s readers, writers and contributors are professionals actively engaged in issues of transit, planning and policy. The impression given is one of a bunch of guys huddled together in one’s garage obsessively going over the minutiae of that which they have no personal stake in.

It’s an attack not upon the technology, but upon the people associated with it.

But maybe that’s reading a bit too deeply into the subtext.

The second way to read it is this:

If Jarrett Walker and Human Transit are hostile towards the idea of cable transit and The Gondola Project, why bother linking to us in the first place? While his coverage of the idea could be interpreted as less-than-favorable, it puts the idea front-and-centre before his sizable readership.

Furthermore, Human Transit has had a link to The Gondola Project under their ‘Technophile’ category for months now. If Human Transit doesn’t like the idea of cable, they wouldn’t mention it. They’d just ignore it and hope that it goes away.

If they don’t approve of the idea, the best way to kill it doesn’t involve giving it more attention. That would be a huge strategic error. After all, like publicity, there’s no such thing as bad traffic.

So maybe it’s a reluctant invitation to the table. While not explicitly endorsing the technology, idea or people behind cable transit, Human Transit’s favorable linking allows for the idea to enter the conversation and discussion. It allows it an opportunity to go mainstream while giving Jarrett the critical distance he requires and deserves.

There’s really no way to know one way or the other which of the two perspectives is right. In fact, there could be a third or fourth perspective as well. The only way to know is to get it straight from the source.

So my question to Jarrett is this: Which one is it? What do you think of cable?

(Update: Jarrett responds in the comments.)

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.