Two Big Gondolas Opening South of the Border

Sigma Diamond cabins in France waiting to be shipped across the pond.  Photo credit: Sigma Cabins

Park City and Lutsen Mountains in Minnesota won’t have the only new gondolas in this part of the world come December.  Leitner Ropeways is in the final stages of building a $72 million gondola system in Ecatepec near Mexico City.  Two connected gondola lines will include seven stations and 184 10-passenger cabins.  They will feature the first Leitner DirectDrives in North America.  DirectDrive technology eliminates the need for a gearbox and associated points of failure.

Map of the two lines and seven stations.
Map of the two lines and seven stations.

The longer of the two lines will have a slope length of 9,577 feet while rising 180 feet in 10.5 minutes.  It will have 20 towers and 108 Sigma Diamond 10-passenger cabins.  The second line will be 5,922 feet long with a slightly larger vertical of 203 feet and ride time of 7.5 minutes.  This one will have 76 cabins and 16 towers.  Both lines will travel at a max speed of 1,181 feet a minute and transport 3,000 riders an hour each way.  With five mid-stations, it would be difficult for cabins to be shared between the two haul ropes.  A fault or stop at any of the seven terminals would halt the entire system which is just one of the reasons it is being split up with cabins turning around in the middle.

Towers going up in a municipality of three million people.
Towers going up in a municipality of three million people.  Photo credit: Leitner Ropeways.

The Mexican State is investing about two-thirds of the $72 million with private operator Mexitelefericos paying the rest.  Not everyone is thrilled about the project as many people lost their homes for towers and terminals through eminent domain.  You can even take a tour on YouTube of brand new tower bases already tagged with graffiti.

One of five angle stations. Photo credit: Leitner Ropeways.
One of five angle stations under construction in Ecatepec.  Photo credit: Leitner Ropeways.

Riding the system from end to end will take under 20 minutes, an improvement of 25 minutes over the current bus line.  The gondola will operate 17 hours per day and cost 50 cents (USD) to ride.  Construction began back in February 2014 and the project is on schedule to open before the end of the year.

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