Gondolas are not just for ferrying people up to the top of ski hills anymore and are considered by many to be a viable addition to mass transit.

The city is always looking at ways to provide affordable and rapid transit.

Now many urban centres are using a Cable-Propelled Transit system to complement their current transit system.

Steven Dale is a Toronto Cable-Propelled Transit (CPT) specialist who says Calgary Transit should look into the idea of using gondola technology as a viable option for moving people.

Dale says the system is ideal for people who aren't living or working near the main transit infrastructure

Calgary Transit is interested in the idea.

"We're not going to outright dismiss it. We'll likely do a feasibility study to see if it's something that could be in our future, but at this stage its way too early to tell," said Ron Collins from Calgary Transit.

Cable-Propelled Transit technology is an attractive option for urban environments and is being used in several centres including Taiwan, New York, and some Latin American cities.

Portland, Oregon is currently using the system over a 1 km line. The gondola cost $56 million to build and the city is considering adding more of the cable cars to their transit arsenal.

Experts say that Cable-propelled transit is cheaper than Light Rail Transit and is able to navigate through more topographically challenging terrain than buses.

Several companies are already manufacturing the systems and say there are a number of benefits other than the low cost:

  • The system is a low-emissions form of transportation and uses less energy than conventional transit.
  • It can be easily integrated into the cityscape and combined with the public transit network without encountering obstacles on the ground.
  • It is not affected by traffic.
  • It provides a no-wait service as the cars move continuously without interruption.
  • It requires little space.
  • The system is accessible to passengers with impaired mobility and wheelchair users.

Some of the negative aspects of the system are:

  • Power outages and system malfunctions that could potentially strand passengers
  • Limited cabin capacity

The cost of building a gondola transit system is between $5 to $10 million per kilometer.

Light Rail Transit can carry far more people, but can cost more than $150 million per kilometer.

For more information on Cable-Propelled transit visit the Gondola Project website.