Posts Tagged: Propelled

08
Dec

2009

Telecabine de Constantine

I’m traveling today and am out of internet contact (why can’t more airlines fix that problem?), so we’re going to watch a video (like when your high school history teacher was sick with strep throat)

It’s short, it’s in French, and it should inspire the transit wonk in all of you (especially starting at 0:56).  Enjoy:



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07
Dec

2009

Cincinnati Funiculars

The Mount Adams Incline in Cincinnati, Ohio

The Mount Adams Incline in Cincinnati, Ohio

Way back in the day (we’re talking 1872 here) Cincinnati, Ohio was clustered at the base of several small mountains. As the city grew and expanded up the sides of the mountain city officials had a problem: How were people and goods to be moved up and down the mountains?

This was, of course, before automobiles. People were still using horse-and-wagon and the steep grades surrounding Cincinnati threatened the city’s growth. A series of five inclined railways / funiculars were used to ingeniously solve this problem.

Bellevue Incline in Cincinnati, Ohio

Bellevue Incline in Cincinnati, Ohio

Cincinnati’s funiculars were remarkably unique and simple in concept.  As far as I am aware (and that could change), I believe they were almost entirely new for the time. And as such, I think they deserve their own classification: Let’s just call them “Cincinnati Funiculars.” for ease and simplicity’s sake.

What differentiates a Cincinnati Funicular from a traditional funicular is this: Traditional funiculars were (and continue to be) enclosed vehicles running up and down a mountain. A Cincinnati Funicular, however, was simply a gated platform that was relatively level to the horizon. It’s entrances and exits were aligned not with a sidewalk, but instead with the existing street grid.

Traditional Funicular, The Duquesne Incline in Pittsburgh, PA

Traditional Funicular, The Duquesne Incline in Pittsburgh, PA

A Traditional Funicular, the Polybahn in Zurich, Switzerland

A Traditional Funicular, the Polybahn in Zurich, Switzerland

A Cincinnati-Style Funicular; Cincinnati, Ohio

A Cincinnati-Style Funicular; Cincinnati, Ohio

This pared-down design conceit allowed horse-and-wagon teams to move from the street below, onto the funicular, up the mountain and onto the street above with little trouble. As time passed, the system allowed streetcars, trolleys and buses to do the same. It was a rare situation of transit technologies co-operating rather than competing with each other.

So who cares, right? Transit planners and advocates should:

Almost all rail systems (that includes, light rail, streetcar and subways) are limited to their location by how steep they can climb. It’s a limiting factor they can’t avoid. Rail technology simply cannot climb more than a roughly 10 degree incline. This severely restricts their potential for installation in all but the flattest of locations (see Hamilton, Ontario for a modern day example of this situation). When partnered, however, with a Cincinnati Funicular, that problem is alleviated, thereby opening up all new avenues for rail-based systems.

Sadly, like most fixed-link transit in North America, Cincinnati’s funiculars were gone by 1948. Unlike rail transit systems, buses and private automobiles had no troubles ascending the mountains, thereby making the inclines redundant. The design concept of a Cincinnati Funicular was forgotten about almost completely and the funiculars were demolished.

But now, given that the gussied-up streetcar known as Light Rail is king again I have a feeling we’ll be seeing Cincinnati Funiculars sometime soon once more.

Mount Adams Incline.

Mount Adams Incline.

Historical images of the Cincinatti Funicular are public domain. They can be viewed at www.cincinnati-transit.net.

Creative Commons images by JOE M500 and phototram



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07
Dec

2009

Transit Is Not A Technology…

. . . it is a movement.

Brian Tyler is an aspiring planner with degrees in economics and international business and he’s smart. His two websites (Paris, The Avant-Gard of Rail and Switching Modes) are innovative explorations of transit issues without the typical techno-babble. He knows how to connect.

Two of his posts in particular caught my eye.  One regards the proposed Oakland Airport Connector which is a close-to-shovel-ready Cable Propelled Transit system in the Bay Area.  The other, is a more general commentary about how the French saw innovations in transit not as technology but as a Movement.

It’s a fascinating concept and one I think applies to cable’s situation. If CPT is to be adopted on any scale with any success it needs people behind it. We need to talk and communicate and help each other de-bug, so that our perception of cable matches the reality of cable.

That’s going to take a lot of time and a lot of perseverance, I know, but that’s just the way it is.



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20
Nov

2009

Basic Lesson 5: Propulsion

Unlike traditional vehicles, CPT vehicles do not have an onboard engine or motor. Propulsion is provided by an off-board engine that moves a cable.  Vehicles are equipped with a grip used to attach and detach the vehicle to the cable.

The vehicle is therefore propelled by the cable which itself is propelled by engines and bullwheels in a wheelhouse. Remember those old clotheslines with wheels? It sort of works like that.

Like That

Like That

San Francisco Wheelhouse

San Francisco Wheelhouse

Proceed to Novice Lessons 1: Corners

Return to Basic Lessons 4: Propulsion

Creative Commons image by threefingeredlord. San Francisco Wheelhouse image used with permission by sjgardiner.



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13
Nov

2009

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 capacity; an inability to turn corners; and little potential for intermediary stations.

Ironically, Aerial Trams are on average more expensive than Gondola technology despite their numerous short-comings.  They are a high-cost, low-value technology.

Aerial Tram

Aerial Tram

Funiculars, on the other hand, are very similar to Cable Cars except Funiculars are used almost exclusively to ascend steep inclines.  In fact, you’ll often find Funiculars referred to as Inclined Rails.

The incline of the vehicle is equivalent to the incline of the bottom-supporting guideway while standing and seating areas are at a flat incline relative to the horizon.

Traditional trains and rail lines are incapable of ascending greater-than-10-degree inclines which gives Funiculars are decided advantage.

Funicular

Funicular (Inclined Rail)

Again, like in the previous post in the Basic Lessons series, because there has never been a CPT typology, people often incorrectly refer to Funiculars and Aerial Trams as Cable Cars.

Proceed to Basic Lesson 4 to learn about Support

Return to Basic Lesson 2 to learn about Gondolas & Cable Cars

Creative Commons images by Phillie Casablanca and Les Chatfield



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10
Nov

2009

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.

Gondola

Gondola

Cable Cars on the other hand, are supported and propelled from below.  Propulsion is provided by a cable whereas support is provided by rails of varying configurations.

Cable Car

Cable Car

Cable Car

Cable Car

It’s important to understand that since there has never existed an exact typology for Cable-Propelled Transit, people tend to use the terms Gondola and Cable Car interchangeably.  Hopefully, The Gondola Project can help solve that problem.

Remember:  Gondolas are from above and Cable Cars are from below.  That’s all you need to know.

Proceed to Basic Lesson 3 to learn about Aerial Trams & Funiculars

Return to Basic Lesson 1 to learn the definition of Cable Propelled Transit

Creative Commons images by borkur.net, Dede90 and Matthew Black



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07
Nov

2009

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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