Lift Profile: Spokane Falls SkyRide

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The only lift I know of that crosses under a major bridge.

The $2.5 million Spokane Falls SkyRide is one of only a handful of lifts in North America owned by city government.  Doppelmayr CTEC built the pulse gondola in 2005 to replace a Riblet version that debuted in 1974.  Riders board at the drive station in downtown Spokane’s Riverfront Park.  The gondola travels down through the park, across the Spokane River and under a four-lane bridge before turning around.  All this happens in only 1,120 feet.  It takes 15 minutes to ride round-trip at a painful 150 feet per minute (the design speed is 600 fpm.)  The gondola’s turnaround station on the far bank of the river does not have loading/unloading or even an operator.  A ticket for the SkyRide costs $7.50 and it operates year-round.

Looking down at one of five pulses of cabins.
Looking down at one of five pulses of cabins.

Spokane’s original Riverfront SkyRide, built by Riblet, ran in a similar alignment from 1974 to 2005.  (Riblet built over 500 lifts in a shop three miles away.)  The Riblet version of the SkyRide had open air cabins but the new one has 15 CWA Omega 6-passenger cabins.  Because the cabins are enclosed, the SkyRide shuts down when the temperature exceeds 85 degrees, which happens fifty days a year in Spokane.  Last year Doppelmayr developed a plan to retrofit cabins with larger opening windows but so far these have not been installed.  Despite this issue, over 70,000 people ride the SkyRide every year.

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