Posts Tagged: Vukan Vuchic



Vukan Vuchic & Cable Transit

Professor Vukan R. Vuchic quite literally wrote the textbook(s) on public transportation planning.

His exhaustive textbook trilogy Urban Transit are essentially the only academic textbook in existence on the complexities of public transportation.

So what does Vuchic think about cable transit? Not much.

Out of a total of 600 pages in Urban Transit: Systems and Technology a total of nine pages are devoted to cable hauled systems – most of which are pictures.

Of those nine pages, ground-based cable cars and funiculars dominate the conversation. Gondolas are non-existent and aerial tramways are given these cursory few paragraphs:

“Suspended passenger cabins pulled by a closed-loop cable can also be used to overcome steep gradients or, most commonly, deep valleys, ravines, or bodies of water. These systems are used extensively in mountainous regions (the Alps, the Rockies), but in some cases they are used in the immediate vicinity of cities (Atlanta – Stone Mountain, Rio de Janeiro, Innsbruck (Austria), Caracas – Avila) or as shuttle transit lines within cities (Portland was building one in 2006).

The best-known aerial tramway with the largest cabins used as an urban transit line is the Roosevelt Island-Manhattan Line in New York City, opened in 1976. This line, providing the fastests and most convenient connection between the island and Manhattan over the navigable East River, was a part of the entire planning concept for the design of the island as an integrated, nearly vehicle-free environment . . .

With respect to line characteristics – length, stations, headway/cycle time relationship, and line capacity – aerial tramways have the same features and limitations as the funiculars.”

That’s it.

Now granted aerial cable systems weren’t spreading around the world nearly as rapidly in 2007 – the year of this book’s publishing – as they are now, but seriously?

Firstly, the Avila system in Caracas isn’t an Aerial Tram. It’s an MDG gondola. There’s a massive difference between the two and a transit educator who spends 100’s of pages dissecting every single minutia about public transit probably should have recognized that.

Secondly, if Vuchic was aware of Caracas, it would be hard for him not to be aware of Medellin – which opened its first urban gondola system in 2004.

Am I calling shenanigans? Hardly. One has to forgive Dr. Vuchic for the simple reason that one doesn’t know what one doesn’t know.

But what I will say is this:

Perhaps it’s time for a new edition?

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