Posts Tagged: smell test



Public Transit Ziplines?

Ryan sends a link to an op-ed piece in the Waterloo Record:

“Truly innovative ideas for public transit are needed to make progress. . . A zipline is a version of a ropeway. They originated to cross valleys and gorges because they are safe, easy to operate, and inexpensive to build.”

The author goes on to talk about cable transit as well, but it’s the zipline component that clearly stands out.

Having ziplined myself a few times, I’ll admit the idea has a certain steampunk appeal. It’s just . . . cool. But that’s about as far as the idea goes.

Any new idea has to pass a smell test. If well-outside the mainstream, the idea has to provide a comparable or superior level of service to that which is currently used at a price the market is willing to pay. If not, then what’s the point of making the switch?

If it weren’t for the fact that Cable Propelled Transit and Urban Gondolas repeatedly passed the smell, I wouldn’t have spent the last year working on this site.

Ziplines, however, don’t pass the smell test for one simple reason: Capacity.

I’ll admit that ziplines could quite easily be the cheapest, fastest, most environmentally-friendly form of transit ever built, but the technology’s ability to move large numbers of people just isn’t there.

As per my understanding (which is limited, I’ll admit) ziplines are meant to carry one person at a time per line segment. Assume that your average travel time per segment to be anywhere from 30 seconds to 1 minute, and you’ve got a whopping capacity of 60 – 120 pphpd.

There are bus routes in suburban Nebraska that carry more people in off-peak times.

Nothing wrong with new and innovative ideas, but they have to exist somewhere within the realm of practicality. Are ziplines a cool idea? Yes. Are they transit? Not right now and not in the foreseeable future.

"These rush hour crowds are killing me!"

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