Travel by high-speed gondola

Spencer Shireman | Marketing Director, R&R Realty Group

The Idea: We’re growing at a pace that will eventually outstrip the carrying capacity of our primary urban freeway. My big idea for tackling the problem is a high-speed gondola system. That’s right. High-speed gondolas. Essentially it would be an aerial cable car system that provides people with a method of transportation that’s more unique, more cost-effective and more environmentally friendly than other methods. Outside of the U.S., high-speed gondolas, or aerial cable cars, are actually not that rare. Cities in Colombia, Brazil, Spain and France have installed gondolas as part of their transit systems. Here in the U.S., our trendy friends in Portland, Ore., have jumped on the bandwagon and built the Portland Aerial Tram. Why consider this seemingly crazy idea? Because of the price, of course. Consider the fact that building one mile of subway carries an average cost of roughly $400 million. Building a streetcar system (like our neighbors down in Kansas City recently did) costs about $36 million per mile. Building one mile of freeway in an urban setting (like I-235) can cost anywhere from $5 to $8 million. Compare those potential bills with those of an aerial cable car system, which has an average cost of $3 million per mile. Austin, Texas, had been considering an aerial cable car system called Wire One. Wire One would have been an 8-mile system with 19 stops – think about going from downtown Des Moines to West Glen Town Center. Austin’s regional transit authority decided it wasn’t something they were interested in pursuing, but they also left the door open for other entities to explore the concept. Other cities, including Washington, San Diego and Albany, N.Y., are also exploring similar systems. >