Under blue sky at 12,000 feet, the President of Bolivia pressed start at high noon yesterday for Línea Blanca, the newest gondola in the world’s urban ropeway capital. Surprising thousands gathered for the occasion, President Evo Morales then proceeded to inaugurate the first section of the Sky Blue line, initially slated to open later this year.
The day was momentous as seven color-coded gondola lines now stretch contiguously throughout La Paz and El Alto with no significant gaps between them. From this weekend, Mi Teleférico (My Cable Car) includes approximately 140,000 feet of haul rope, 962 gondola cabins, 168 towers and 26 stations. The scale is almost unbelievable and there are still four more lines in development!
Built by Doppelmayr like most of Mi Teleférico, the White line services four stations with 131 10-passenger cabins. It’s capable of transporting 3,000 passengers each hour on a 13 minute trip between the Sky Blue (Celeste) and Orange (Naranja) lines. The initial section of Celeste was once planned to be part of a four-section White line which was later split to serve additional neighborhoods and prevent any one line from becoming too congested. Like most of the world’s largest gondola system, I’m pretty sure the White Line is made up of two separate haul rope loops and vault drive systems with cabins that rotate through both.
There’s quite a party in the urban gondola capital of the world tonight as Mi Teleférico (My Cable Car) opens the Bolivian capital’s fifth urban gondola line. The Línea Naranja (Orange Line) carried its first public passengers just after 6:00 pm and will serve some 30,000 La Paz commuters daily. Joining the Red, Yellow, Green and Blue lines already in service, the new 10-passenger Doppelmayr system features the world’s first underground gondola station and amenities such as free Wi-Fi, video monitoring and cabin lighting. As La Paz builds out its eleven-line subway in the sky, the Orange Line forms an impressive continuous gondola route 6.1 miles long with the Blue and Red lines.
Like its predecessors, the newest line is technically two gondolas with four stations, a combined 26 towers and 127 cabins representing a $66 million investment. One way ride time is 9.5 minutes with a capacity of 3,000 passengers per hour, per direction. The project uses a mix of UNI-G and tunnel-style terminals built into modern station buildings.
Could a north-south gondola effectively move people through the town of Breckenridge much like TellurideandMountain Village pioneered twenty years ago? A team from SE Group presented Phase 1 of its Gondola Transit Study (pages 28-47) to the Breckenridge Town Council on July 11th. The document looks at siting, capacity and cost for a system that could include up to seven stations with the goal of creating a system which reduces traffic congestion, improves connectivity between Breckenridge Ski Resort and the town and enhances the experience of riding transit.
The study’s first siting principle was to serve core destinations from peripheral parking areas to get people out of cars. Another principle placed stations no more than 2,400 feet apart with the assumption that skiers would not willingly walk more than 1,200 feet in winter. The shortest and simplest option would begin at the Satellite North Parking (Station 1) and end at the BreckConnect Gondola (Station 5) with three mid-stations. This option would span 7,530 feet and utilize 84 gondola cabins. The second option (Stations 1-7) would follow the same route but add two more stations at Riverwalk Center (Station 6) and F-Lot parking (Station 7). This one would be 10,395 feet with 116 cabins. The most ambitious alternative, dubbed 1-7b would include the same first five stations but diverge at Gondola Center to the ice rink. This would stretch 12,630 feet with 140 cabins and seven stations. All routes contemplate utilizing separate haul rope loops so that only certain stages could be operated during off-peak times and seasons.
The report notes the first two alternatives could be built easily, as “[they] present few physical barriers; alignments easily pass between existing buildings, transect relatively few private parcels, and appear to have a clear corridor.” The third alternative with stations 6b and 7b reaches more people but a high cost. While the 40-foot corridor for Stations 1-7 encompasses land owned by the Town, CDOT, Vail Resorts, the Summit School District and one private landowner, the alignment for stations 6b and 7b adds four more private parcels and significant complexity.
Revelstoke homeowners aren’t happy lift development has stalled for almost ten years now. The resort’s response identifies master plan lifts 1 and 11 as the highest priorities but notes construction of them is subject to market demand.
In an interview, new Crystal Mountain owner John Kircher says he wants to build a second gondola to Campbell Basin.
NY State Fair gondola continues to be targeted as an example of government waste.
Whaleback’s T-Bar project is a go. The lift came from Plattekill, NY and will be installed by SkyTrans.
Poma reaches agreement to build new gondolas in Vietnam with the first next-generation Sigma Diamond EVO cabins introduced yesterday at Interalpin. The new cabins offer more natural light and feature doors that slide rather than opening out.
Wolf Ridge, NC closes for the season following lightning damage to 1988 Doppelmayr quad. The place has an interesting past; a 2006 Doppelmayr CTEC quad and 1980 Borvig were both abandoned after a 2014 fire and only two lifts remain.
The world’s largest urban gondola network leaps forward this week with the addition of the Línea Azul (Blue Line) in the Bolivian twin cities of La Paz and El Alto. Since debuting with just one line in May 2014, the state-owned Mi Teleférico (My Cable Car) system has now transported more than 75 million passengers on its Green, Yellow, and Red gondolas. In 2015, My Cable Car committed $450 million to build six additional lines through 2020, and it ordered twomore last year. Mi Teleférico has quickly become one of Doppelmayr’s largest customers, exclusively utilizing the Austrian company’s ten-passenger monocable detachable gondola technology.
Construction commenced on Línea Azul in late May 2015 with cable pulling (by drone!) wrapping in September 2016. The first cabin launched later that month with Bolivian President Evo Morales taking the inaugural ride in November. After three more months of terminal buildout and system testing, the Blue line’s five stations are ready for show time. Línea Azul is La Paz’s longest to date, with 208 CWA Omega IV-10-LWI cabins that will cover an impressive 32,700 feet per revolution beginning March 3rd, just 645 days after groundbreaking.
Like the Red, Yellow and Green lines, the Blue line is actually two lifts with two separate haul ropes and two drive systems with cabins transferring between them. Nearly all of the Mi Teleférico network will be built this way, with multiple haul rope loops forming single “lines” with two to five stations each (most have either three or four.) Multi-stage gondolas operating with this principle in North America include WhistlerVillage and Excalibur at Whistler Blackcomb, Panorama at Mammoth and Revelation at Revelstoke Mountain Resort.
A $15 million gondola system will connect the New York State Fairgrounds in Syracuse to a nearby amphitheater, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced this morning. “This is very, very exciting and it brings the energy of both facilities together for a synergy between the two,” Cuomo noted, calling the planned gondola “world class.” The lift’s 38 cabins will cross Interstate 690 along a 3,700′ route. The project still requires federal approval but is scheduled for completion in June 2018.
The gondola will link more than 15,000 parking spaces at the fair to the 17,500-seat Lakeview Amphitheater, which will host major acts such as Zac Brown Band and Third Eye Blind this summer. The amphitheater gondola station will also serve Onondaga Lake Park and its network of popular trails. The state- and county-owned facilities are currently connected by shuttle buses operating on a circuitous route during major events. Capacity of the eight-passenger lift will be 1,200 passengers per hour. An expansion to 75 cabins would achieve an ultimate capacity of 2,400 per hour. A manufacturer has not yet been selected and the state will hold a competitive bid process in the coming months.
A separate, privately-funded and operated skyride lift will also be built this spring, traveling 1,500 feet over the fairgrounds with between 100 and 120 double chairs. Dozens of fairs across the country operate either chairlifts or gondolas for fair-goers, among them a new Skytrac ride at Cal Expo, a Partek chairlift at the North Carolina State Fair and the Texas Skyway gondola built at the Texas State Fair in 2007.
Governor Cuomo also announced $20 million in improvements at the state-owned Belleayre, Gore Mountain and Whiteface ski resorts today, including a new enclosed upper terminal building for Gore’s Northwoods Gondola and a new lift connecting Whiteface’s learning center to mid-station. New York State owns more lifts than any other state – 27 in total – including the Roosevelt Island Tramway. The government has been a frequent customer of both Doppelmayr and Leitner-Poma over the years.