Posts Tagged: Single Loop Cable Shuttles



Cable Cars, Lesson 2: Single Loop Cable Shuttles

Mexico City Airport's Aerotén. Image via Sobre Mexico.

For our new readers: Despite the fact that systems like the planned London Thames Cable Car are often officially called “Cable Cars,” they are more often than not Gondolas. This can be confusing to cable transit novices. To make it easier: Cable Cars are supported from below (like cars) and Gondolas are supported from the top (like ski lift gondolas). This is an error of nomenclature, nothing more.

As I described a long time ago here, Cable Cars operate in a similar way to Gondolas. That is, they come in either continuously-circulating or shuttle-based configurations. For all intents and purposes, you can imagine shuttle configurations as being the ground-based equivalent to an Aerial Tram – the only difference being that Cable Cars can navigate turns easily whereas Aerial Trams cannot.

As such, shuttle based systems are – generally speaking – the simplest and cheapest Cable Cars to install. They suffer, however, from having relatively low system capacities (as measured in pphpd).

Like an Aerial Tram, a basic Cable Shuttle has only one rope loop. That means there can only be a maximum of two vehicles plying the line in question. Those two vehicles are also bound by each other. They operate in tandem; one vehicle cannot move without the other.

So while there may be a variety of different ways to apply a Single Loop Cable Shuttle (see image below), the system will always be characterized by low capacities; an inability to offer 24 hour service; longer wait times and; severe restrictions on intermediary stations.

In the event of a single track, single vehicle configuration, intermediary stations can be placed at whatever interval is desired.

Like all transit systems, the exact capacity of a Single Loop Cable Shuttle is a product of many factors. System speed, dwell times, number of stations, vehicle size and system length all factor into the equation and it is therefore impossible to provide any reliable benchmark for what such a system can carry. Each system would be unique unto itself.

Nevertheless remember: A single loop system is at the low-end of the Cable Car spectrum and it’s capabilities are limited in comparison to other Cable Car technologies. For example, Mexico City’s Aerotrén is a single loop, single track system with only one vehicle. Though it travels at a maximum speed of 45 km/hr, it currently only provides a system capacity of 540 pphpd.

Like an Aerial Tram, a Single Loop Cable Shuttle is therefore only appropriate in low-capacity situations where complexity is at a minimum.

Image by CUP Projects.

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