December 30, 2009

Cable Cars & Gondolas in Toronto?

CANADA - To the right and below is an artist's rendition of what cable cars in Toronto might look like. According to blogger Stephen Dale (see this is the future Torontonians might eventually see and he is pushing it as an alternative to subways and street cars.

He cites other examples from around the world as proof it can be done in Toronto:

#1. The recently approved BART Oakland Airport Connector in California, a $500 million USD people mover that will run on a 5-kilometre elevated right of way.

#2. The Metrocable in Medellin, Colombia, incorporates three aerial cable lines into the transit system of that country's second largest city. The cables were designed to serve low-income commuters in the outlying areas.

#3. Two cable systems in Caracas, Venezuela, are expected to carry 140,000 people daily when they're both completed in 2011.

#4. A four-kilometre cable car with seven stations in Perugia, Italy, offers wait times of about a minute between vehicles.

#5. Constantine Telepherique in Algeria is a series of aerial cable cars, some designed for transit and others for tourism.


#1. Gondolas are relatively cheap compared to subways which need to be dug underground.

#2. They can service areas where buses would normally go but without clogging up traffic like buses or street cars do.

#3. Its actually quite ideal for transit in suburban regions, like Scarborough, Mississauga and Brampton, and would work quite well on high-traffic streets like Queen Street West.

#4. Think of the tourist potentials!

#5. Gondolas are greener because they use electricity instead of diesel or gasoline.

#6. Its cheaper and faster than street cars and buses.

#7. Gondolas can over go over water or valleys easier, servicing opposite sides of the Don Valley Parkway, over and above the 400 series highways and even the Toronto islands.

#8. Gondolas have less land requirements than both subways and street cars.

#9. They have surprisingly high safety records, making them one of the safest forms of transportation in the world. Despite what you've seen in movies gondola accidents are almost completely unheard of.

Dale has a longer, more complete list of reasons on his website.

Politicians are often slow to come around to the idea, but one politician is now promoting the idea. "It can work in almost any urban fabric," says Glen Murray, the former mayor of Winnipeg, who is currently planning to run in Toronto Centre in the next provincial election.

In the meantime the TTC has its hands full:

A $2.4 billion extension of the Spadina subway line into York Region starts construction next year.

A $950 million Sheppard LRT, a 120-kilometre, seven-line light rail network that will reach deep into the city's suburbs over the next two decades.

Stephen Dale blames a couple of common misconceptions for making cable a tough sell in North American cities.

"There's a general perception such systems are slow, which they're not, especially if you compare them with Toronto's streetcar system," says Dale. "The streetcars we have are built to go 100 km/h but they average 12 km/h on the street," even on dedicated right-of-way routes such as Spadina Ave.

"The other major issues are questions of capacity. People think (gondolas) can't carry enough. It can carry up to about 6,000 people per hour per direction," says Dale. "We have no streetcar line in all of Toronto that goes above 2,000, and when they're talking about the Eglinton LRT line, they're only imagining it having about 5,000."

Dale makes some valid points. Bicycles are effectively faster than street cars (going 20 to 30 km/hour, depending on the cyclist)... but sadly bicycles aren't really a solution in Canadian winters.

See Also:
The Bicycle Mechanic

1 comment:

  1. Thanks so much for this. I'm happy to see that you've taken the time to point out the high safety record of cable. It's a common misperception and I'm very grateful to anyone who takes the time to recognize it.

    All the best,

    Steven Dale


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