News Roundup: Colorado

announcednewlifts3-15
Likely new lifts for 2017 are pacing 39 percent ahead of last year, when 28 new lifts had been announced on this date.  I’ve identified 39 lift projects for 2017 and if last year’s pattern holds, lift manufacturers will build approximately 57 new ropeways in N. America in 2017, the most since 2004.  We’ll know by about July 1.

News Roundup: China

New Roundup: French

Who Will Buy America’s First Eight Passenger Chairlift?

SONY DSC

Eight new eight-passenger chairlifts debuted this ski season, the highest number in history. Twenty years since the technology debuted, Doppelmayr, Garaventa, Leitner and Poma have now built a combined 78 of these mega chairlifts on three continents and in eleven countries.  With 2016 seeing the greatest number of eight-passenger chairlifts constructed, a question on everybody’s mind should be: when will the world’s second largest ski market finally build one?

8packconstructiontimeline

Doppelmayr debuted eight-passenger chair technology in 1997 (in Norway of all places) and continues to be the market leader, having built two-thirds of those operating today.  But for the first time ever the Leitner-Poma Group installed more than Doppelmayr and Garaventa combined last year.  In 2006, Leitner built the first combined installation with eight-passenger chairs and 10-passenger gondola cabins and there are now seven of these across Europe.  Bubble chairs and seat heating came along in 2000 and nearly every new eight-passenger lift features both these days.  In total, 60 percent of eight seaters globally have bubbles and half sport heated seats.

8packdistributionbycountry

Austria is home to over 60 percent of the world’s eight-passenger chairlifts and exactly five have ever made it out of Europe.  Australia and Asia each got their first in 2003 but several leading ski markets have never gone there – among them Japan, Canada, China and the United States.

Continue reading

News Roundup: Six-Pack

News Roundup: South America

This is an open thread.  Feel free to leave a comment on anything lift-related.

Olympic Spotlight Shines on Rio and its Teleféricos

With the Olympics opening tomorrow in Rio de Janeiro, the world looks to a seaside metropolis with more than six million residents and the first South American city to host an Olympic Games.  While Brazil has no ski resorts, Rio features aerial lifts ranging from hundred year-old tramways to modern gondolas connecting the city’s favelas to the regional transit network.

The famous Sugarloaf Mountain twin tramways were among the world’s first cableways of any kind when they debuted in 1912.  A century later, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff championed development of a five-section Poma gondola connecting some of Rio’s largest slums, modeled after the pioneering gondola network in Medellín.  In 2013, Doppelmayr built a three-station gondola in Morro da Providência, serving more than 5,000 residents in one of Rio’s oldest favelas.  Further urban cable projects proposed for Rio have faltered as the city works to combat challenges we’ve become all too familiar with leading up to the Games.

Teleférico do Alemão

Teleférico do Alemão is one of the largest and most complex gondola systems in the world with six stations and 152 10-passenger Sigma Diamond cabins.  Built by Poma and operated by private train company SuperVia, Teleférico do Alemão opened July 7, 2011. The system is capable of transporting 3,000 passengers per hour over 2.2 miles of dense neighborhoods in 16 minutes.  The lift changes angle four times, including a 100-degree turn at Alemão Station.

Bondinho_do_Complexo_do_Alemão_Panorama_06_2014
Teleférico do Alemão’s striking gondola stations also serve as community centers.  Photo credit: Mario Roberto Duran Ortiz via Creative Commons

70,000 residents are eligible for two free rides daily on the gondola, which links favelas in the Complexo do Alemão to the Bonsucesso train station. Six expansive rooftop stations that feature banks, stores and social services rise above the favelas.  The gondola system cost approximately $74 million to build and serves 9,000 daily riders.  Initial ridership estimates of 30,000 per day have not been realized as Rio has struggled to attract non-residents to ride the teleférico through crime-ridden neighborhoods.  Unlike in Medellín and La Paz, residents have criticized the construction of an expensive gondola through communities that lack electricity, clean water and basic sanitation.

Continue reading

Medellín Pairs Urban Gondolas with Subways

South American cities are world leaders in urban cable transport, with 24 urban gondolas either opened or planned in Bogotá, Caracas, Guayaquil, La Paz, Lima, Medellín and Rio de Janeiro.  I’ve written extensively about La Paz, Bolivia’s capital that went all in on cable transport with eleven gondolas either operating, under construction or planned.  But a full decade before the creation of Mi Teleférico in La Paz, Metro de Medellín opened the first of three Metrocable gondola lines in Colombia’s third largest city.  Metrocable Line K was the first urban gondola to seamlessly link with a subway anywhere in the world, providing under-served and poor neighborhoods access to the city’s transport network. Metrocable’s J, K and L lines, with ten stations over 5.8 miles, now compose a quarter of the Metro de Medellín network.  All three Metrocable lines are 8-passenger monocable gondolas built by Poma.

Line K debuted in 2004 with a shockingly low construction cost of $26 million.  Its four stations branch off from the Acevedo Metro station over a length of 6,798 feet, giving three neighborhoods access to the core subway Line A that opened in 1996.  This gondola rises 1,309 feet with a rope speed of 5 m/s.  Metrocable Line J opened in 2008 at a cost of $47.5 million, serving four more stations from the terminus of the shorter subway Line B. Line J is longer than the original K at just under 9,000 feet.  A ride with seamless transfers between buses, two Metro subway lines and two Metrocable lines costs less than a dollar.

5mapa-metro-medellin-1
Medellín’s Metro system features two subway lines and three Metrocable lines with two more under construction.

Continue reading

Mount Roberts Tramway Celebrates Twenty Years

IMG_8823
Opened in 1996, The Mt. Roberts Tramway flies above downtown Juneau from the city’s waterfront.

Rising from the cruise docks on the edge of Alaska’s capital, the Mt. Roberts Tramway is the undisputed steepest lift in North America with an average slope angle of 39 degrees.  The now-famous tram carried its first passengers 1,800 feet above Juneau almost twenty years ago. It’s among the newest large aerial tramways in North America and one of two in the U.S. built by Poma. The summit terminal soars 165 feet above the forested slopes of Mt. Roberts, downtown Juneau and the massive cruise ships below.  On August 10th, the tram will celebrate twenty years of service and more than 3.5 million riders.

IMG_7216
The top terminal is basically a tower, similar the Portland Aerial Tram but located in a more spectacular setting.

John Heiser proposed the lift in 1994, becoming President of the Mount Roberts Development Corporation before leaving to join Intrawest.  He financed the $16 million project with investments from Anchorage businessmen and Goldbelt (an Alaska Native Corporation) and leased right of way from the City of Juneau.  Goldbelt took 100-percent ownership of the tram in 1998.

IMG_8909
The bottom terminal fits the definition of a tram dock!  The motor room is located above rather than below due to its unique location.

Continue reading

News Roundup: New in New Zealand