Two private development firms are moving forward with plans for a $100 million gondola in South Boston, which would feature three stations in its first phase. Millennium Partners and Cargo Ventures are building a 2.7 million square foot mixed-use development at the eastern edge of the Seaport District, a part of the city historically under served by public transit. The current Silver Line bus rapid transit lines here have been criticized since their inception as slow, overcrowded and inconvenient while a gondola would create a quick and efficient path to the new complex and beyond.
Millennium is working with Handel Architects and Leitner-Poma on a design which it presented to the Boston Planning and Development Agency in January. The latest route avoids cabins flying past rooms at the new $550 million Omni Hotel, a source of criticism for an earlier route proposal, which is somewhat ironic considering Omni’s hopes to build its own gondola at Bretton Woods in New Hampshire. The Boston gondola would travel over Summer Street for its entire 4,650′ alignment with stations adjacent to the South Station transit hub, Boston Convention & Exhibition Center and Marine Park.
The lift would feature 13 towers, 70 10-passenger cabins and a capacity of 4,000 passengers per hour, per direction (nine second spacing!) A ride between South Station and Marine Park would take just 7.3 minutes. A second phase could service the South Boston neighborhood with the Marine Park terminal becoming a sharp angle station. Cabin parking and maintenance would also be housed at Marine Park.
This proposal is one of many urban gondolas envisioned for North American cities including Albany, Vancouver and Washington, DC. It will be interesting to see which one will be the first to actually break ground.