In its home country of France, Poma Ropeways has won a $56 million tender to realize the first 3S gondola designed entirely for public transport. Téléphérique Urbain Sud (South Urban Cable Car) will link two hospitals to Paul Sabatier University in the city of Toulouse. You may know France’s fourth largest city, with 1.2 million inhabitants, as the global headquarters of the Airbus Group.
The gondola’s 1.9 mile route will ascend a 300-foot hill called Pech David before crossing the Garonne waterway. Factors leading to the selection of a 3S over a MGD were the need for long spans between towers (just 5 required instead of 20), the ability to more easily transport wheelchairs/bicycles as well as wind tolerance. Fourteen 35-passenger Sigma Symphony cabins will circulate between three stations with an hourly capacity of 1,500 passengers per direction. At 5 m/s, the system will achieve headways of just 90 seconds and a trip will take ten minutes each way, a 20-minute improvement from today in a car. Like other successful urban gondola projects, riders of the 3S will be able to use existing fare media and easily transfer to and from metro trains or buses. Additional stages are likely to be added to the ends of the new gondola in the future.
Poma anchors a consortium that includes some of France’s leading architecture and construction firms. Unlike many urban projects, a French ski resort operator will maintain the system for $2.1 million/year rather than Poma once construction is complete. This system will join three Leitner-Poma Group 3S gondolas already operating with at least three more in development. Doppelmayr has built a dozen tri-cable gondolas with three more in planning or construction. One of those systems is Seilbahn Koblenz, built for a garden exposition but adapted in part for commuter transportation in Germany.
Téléphérique Urbain Sud is expected to open in 2020 and carry at least 7,000 Toulousains daily.