Posts Tagged: Silver Bullet City



A Silver Bullet City For Gondola Transit?

Image by flickr user Vectorportal.

What would the ideal city for cable transit be? At least right now while the technology’s still in its adolescence?

We once talked about what a “silver bullet” cable system might look like. Well what would a silver bullet city look like?

As I see it, a silver bullet city for cable . . .

1. Is safe and reliable. Such a city would be located in a stable, western democracy. No offence to Medellin, Caracas, Rio and Algeria but these technologies will only receive mass acceptance across the globe once it’s demonstrated in places not associated with religious fundamentalism, narco-trafficking and corruption. That’s not to say those places are those things, but one cannot deny that they are often perceived as being those things. And remember: Perception is everything.

2. Is geared towards locals, not tourists. It would possess an evolved, diversified economy that is not trying to rejuvenate itself through tourism. Tourism, after all, is the last refuge of a failed urban environment. For cable to penetrate the urban market, the industry requires fewer toys for tourists and more fully-integrated Cable Propelled Transit systems.

3. Is not hostile towards public transit. Our mythical city’s citizenry are active users of transit and accepting of the idea that prosperity and wealth can go hand-in-hand with public options. Cities who view public transit as a social program for the poor and disabled, and are dominated by the car need not apply.

4. Is willing to take risks. This one’s a double-edged sword. Risk-taking is noble, but not in it of itself. A city too eager to take risks could be doing so for the wrong reasons. If so, that’s a dangerous proposition and one to be avoided at all costs. Is the city failing? Is the government desperate for press and attention? Is the city desperate for cataclysmic change? Taking risks because you have no choice, isn’t taking a risk. It’s opting for the only option.

5. Has political capital to burn. In one of two ways: Either long-serving and beloved politicians in high-ranking positions who won’t lose the support of the populace easily or; newly-elected leaders who have yet to lose the support of the populace via ill-conceived and executed policies and programs.

6. Is clogged. In one way or another. I would have severe traffic, circulation and last mile problems.

7. Is growing. A growing city is one that has – by definition – consistently increasing tax base. This new tax base is easier to allocate to new infrastructure and ideas as it’s not already been “promised” to pre-existing interests. By extension, a shrinking city must maintain existing infrastructures, bureaucracies and social programs with less money year-after-year. Such a city can’t possibly be expected to invest in new infrastructure.

8. Has something to prove. A city with youthful vigour, moxie and a desire to demonstrate itself to the world is a motivated one. And motivated cities often manage to work miracles.

9. Is topographically challenged. Again: Both blessing and curse. A city with severe topographical challenges will obviously be more inclined towards a technology designed originally to deal with just such challenges. That does, however, only reinforce the perception of cable as a niche technology built to scale mountains and cross rivers.

10. Is practical and realistic. Everyone loves a dreamer, but sometimes dreams are just that – dreams. A city willing to “think small” and envision quick hit successes is more likely to realize a gondola transit system sooner than those that grasp after massive, unrealistic networks of gondolas.

11. Has a consistent track record of success. Like people, cities can be divided into talkers and doers. Some cities just have a record of doing things that supersedes others’ record. That doing, however, needs to me maintained. Cities that rest on past laurels of success can be just as poor a candidate as those that never doing anything.

The list isn’t comprehensive, but I think it’s a good start.

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