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Go Back   SkyscraperPage Forum > Regional Sections > Canada > Alberta & British Columbia > SSP: Local Calgary > Transportation & Infrastructure

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  #1  
Old Posted May 3, 2011, 4:44 PM
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Gondola service pondered for N.W. Calgary

Gondola service pondered for N.W. Calgary


http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgar...e.html?ref=rss

Quote:
Calgary Transit is looking at the possibility of building a gondola to ferry commuters from a northwest LRT station to other nearby high-demand areas not directly served by the C-Train.

- "We're looking at moving people from an LRT station to a high activity centre that's not currently on an LRT line. And that would be something like the Foothills hospital, Alberta Children's Hospital or the University of Calgary," he said. McKendrick said since there's no room in that area for a special transit lane, adding more buses is not a better solution. "There's only so many buses you can pump through those areas without them being stuck in their own traffic jam," he said.

- "There's a variety of benefits," said Steven Dale, a Toronto-based expert on the transit systems. "One is the cost. On a sort of apples to apples comparison, you're generally looking a price point of about one quarter to half the price of light rail," he said, adding that gondolas are quick to build and generally very safe. McKendrick said the city believes it could build the northwest gondola system for about $5 to 10 million per kilometre.

.....



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  #2  
Old Posted May 3, 2011, 6:29 PM
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Thanks for the new thread. From what I've gathered not only about the local discussions but from reading up on actual implementations elsewhere, I think this is a fantastic idea for the FMC / ACH loop in NW Calgary. Here are a few thoughts:

- Relatively quick implementation
- Relatively low per km construction cost
- Relatively low per passenger operating cost
- Able to best managed built-up areas where ROW issues are currently limiting factors
- Very low wait times
- Service to a couple of the major under-serviced hubs in the city
- Urban gondolas are proven technologies in other cities
- Cool factor

Sure there will be many little things to work out, but the above list is pretty impressive!
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  #3  
Old Posted May 3, 2011, 7:57 PM
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And if done perhaps others will follow.
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  #4  
Old Posted May 3, 2011, 8:03 PM
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I think they should definitely try this, no reason it can't work.
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  #5  
Old Posted May 3, 2011, 8:16 PM
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It worked for Ogdenville and North Haverbrook!
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  #6  
Old Posted May 3, 2011, 8:23 PM
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Originally Posted by CorporateWhore View Post
It worked for Ogdenville and North Haverbrook!
It put them on the map!

Seriously I think this is a pretty neat idea, and like I said in another thread we know that this technology works very well in our cold climate.
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  #7  
Old Posted May 3, 2011, 8:34 PM
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as long as there is a way to incorporate skiing to work, Im all for it.....
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  #8  
Old Posted May 3, 2011, 8:57 PM
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Looks like Bell has a new topic to pound to death
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  #9  
Old Posted May 3, 2011, 9:28 PM
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I'm not sold on this at the moment. Without going into too much detail:

The given examples where these systems are already used all have something in one way or another that I would say doesn't exist in Calgary's case.

At least a few of the examples quoted are aerial trams and not gondolas. Aerial trams have two "vehicles," so to speak. As such, we've already got a different system. Furthermore, they tend to be used to cross a water body or other disruptive geographical feature that subsequently make them the fastest/most efficient way to get from one point or another. This despite the longer waiting time for the said vehicles.

The gondolas, and the system it appears Calgary would pursue, used in a couple South American cities and Algeria also have a similarity that isn't apparent in Calgary's case. Dense, non-grided cities in where the system travels up a relatively steep slope where ROWs for any ground-level system were essentially impossible and/or the steep slope destoyed any chance of any normal light/heavy rail working.

Furthermore, many of the cities in where these work also have low car ownership, and they definitely don't provide the parking spaces that these activity centers [in Calgary] currently do. Income and subsequent car ownership plays a large role in travel times willing to be accepted and yet another transfer is only going to add to that. Without any land-use change I don't forsee commuters flocking to this. I really have to question the claim that there are no other measures that can currently be taken to increase busing capacity... How about a transit only lane, better signal prioritization or some other traffic or mobility management schemes? There is a pretty long list.

The cool factor will also quickly wear off on commuters, perhaps especially during the really windy-blizzardy-cold days. Those aren't a good time on the gondola on the ski hill so I doubt a commuter would think they were too. Quite exposed indeed.

Lastly, why build it horseshoe? It seems like a rather large amount of excess infrastructure to provide a system that essentially goes to the same destination twice from two different origins that have relatively little resistance between themselves. As in, why loop it right back to the C-train when there will be absolutely no one riding it from one C-train/Gondola station to the other, but only to get to the mid or one of the mid-stations.

Perhaps if the thing went from whatever station they have in mind in the NW (Banff Trail? - I'd prefer Brentwood) toward these activity centers (Foothills, Children's etc) and kept going right on over the Bow and up the valley to the new Westbrook station - hell to MRU. At least then you've got a whole new system and connecting a few main nodes and two LRT lines. Now it's starting to mirror its south american counterparts a tad (the geographical feature) and it might just have relieved a bunch of congestion on that bitch of a problem Crowchild. What is that - 8/9 km? So 80- 100 million dollars. Just a quick thought in any case.

All in all, I'm no where near sold but it is good that CT is thinking a little outside the box. I do think they might have more pressing things to concentrate on and/or are overlooking a lot of easier and cheaper solutions.

Last edited by sim; May 4, 2011 at 9:18 PM. Reason: Added "aerial" to avoid confusion with street trams
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  #10  
Old Posted May 3, 2011, 9:40 PM
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So, always read the Construction Updates thread first.... I see Wooster and I are on similar thought planes...

I say we continue the discussion here though.
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  #11  
Old Posted May 3, 2011, 9:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CorporateWhore View Post
It worked for Ogdenville and North Haverbrook!
WELL PLAYED!
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  #12  
Old Posted May 3, 2011, 10:04 PM
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Here is a PDF comparing four urban tram and three urban gondola implementations:
http://wcfgoldmine.com/gondolacomp.pdf

Here is a discussion on one of the Toronto forums:
http://urbantoronto.ca/showthread.ph...-Urban-Transit
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  #13  
Old Posted May 4, 2011, 2:53 PM
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Originally Posted by MalcolmTucker View Post
5 operators at all times, minimum. Specialty training required etc. 5 operators at all times is a ton of bus capacity. A crazy amount. Cheaper and quicker only compared to some sort of rail service. Plus I doubt local residents would be very happy about constantly moving public transport with sight lines into their back yards.

It is more expensive than bus service because it provides much more service than would otherwise be provided, and that costs money. If you were going to provide that service if you didn't build the gondola system that would be different. But we don't. And I doubt we ever would.

Comparing something to an ultimate implementation of a automated people mover will likely show gondolas is cheaper, but we would never build a people mover so the comparison is pointless.



Zero local emissions.



I doubt five buses are continually prowling around serving the local destinations on this route (Lions--> Foothills--> Childrens'--> University Main Campus --> Brentwood) that could be removed if a service such as proposed exist. It is only cheaper it you are replacing something.
I think you are over-complicating the operation of these. Most ski hills operate them without great difficulty or expense, I don't think these would be much different, and therefore not a huge cost. Probably easier to operate a gondola than to drive a large bus through traffic.

Also, there will be very little residential that this will be travelling over, maybe a bit in the community of University Heights but that is it (based on the route they are proposing). It is very similar to route 91 already:
http://www.calgarytransit.com/route_maps/rte091.html

Based on the schedule for route 91, we are already operating 3-4 buses an hour on this route, slightly more during the peak times:
http://tripplanning2.calgarytransit.com/hiwire

I think once the up front capital cost is taken care of, this gondola line will operate for the same amount, if not less, yet be far more effective and move a much larger amount of people.
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  #14  
Old Posted May 4, 2011, 4:38 PM
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It takes 40 minutes to do a round trip on the 91, and there are 3 buses on the scheduel (as far as I can ascertain). By far the biggest operating cost of any service is labour.

Here is the LRT cost breakdown from 2006, with numbers extrapolated out for another purpose we can ignore for this purpose.



Replacing 3 operators with 6 (need at least one spare to allow the others to take breaks) will raise labour costs. On top of that, they are not a variable cost that can go up and down with service levels throughout the day, they are a fixed cost. Every hour we want to service this we will need 6 people. After 6 pm until after midnight when the service goes to two buses, the differential would be even greater. Will also need three full shifts of operators, plus whatever extra for weekends, unless you want to only run from 6 am - 10 pm.

I am not saying this isn't a good idea, I am just saying that calling something cheaper as the main selling point when it likely won't be isn't the way to go.

So for a service with 19 hour service 7 days a week you are talking 22 FTE, assuming you have no additional cleaning staff needed, and people still take vacations, sick days, etc, and you can actually deploy people optimally.

At 1875 hours a year, given 2006 wages and benefits, that is $1,942,050 in operator wages alone. Using just service hours of 34,675 a year 2006 wages and benefits comes out to $1,632,499.

If you were willing to run lets say 3 of the gondola stations without attendants you can start talking about saving money, but I don't think you are going to get large public benefits from the project without that.

The main beneficiaries are Alberta Health Services Staff, students/faculty that are colocated between the different campus of the University, and AHS parking services (in being able to avoid further capital investment). Those groups should pay for that benefit. AHS/at the time Calgary regional Health Authority paid for the new interchange for the new surgical wing/emergency department and the Childrens' Hospital. No reason to reverse that precendent now.

There is a big if however. If modeling shows that such a system would cost similar to the 16th Ave, 29th St interchange (and I believe it is on the city's to do list), and delay the need for such an interchange for lets say 30 years, it could be justified off the wider public purse.

Last edited by MalcolmTucker; May 4, 2011 at 5:02 PM.
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Old Posted May 4, 2011, 4:58 PM
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Well, I am going to be on Alberta Primetime tonight talking about the Gondola Proposal. So keep the discussion going, it gives me a lot more talking points!!! I'll post the air time when I know later.
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Old Posted May 4, 2011, 5:21 PM
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Good luck Fusili. I'm curious what most Calgarians would think of something like this.
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Old Posted May 4, 2011, 6:24 PM
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Isn't it too windy in Calgary for this to work reliably? I tire of the number of times that Sunshine's gondolas or lifts have slowed to a crawl due to the winds. I think they slow down automatically, in that regard.
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Old Posted May 4, 2011, 6:37 PM
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Hey folks,

Just want to point out that min crew per Gondolla station is 3, not 1. Additionally there would have to be an additional 2-3 people per line to handle shift breaks. This assumes all stations are loading and unloading passengers.

So for 5 station Gondolla line, 18-20 people are required at all times just to handle the basic operations and people movement. This does not include specialized ticket checkers and line up monitors. Nor does this include Maintenance personnel.

So lets say we are looking at 5 station line with 12 hour operating time. With these assumptions expect a minimum complement of 120-140 individuals.
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Old Posted May 4, 2011, 7:50 PM
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Hey folks,

Just want to point out that min crew per Gondolla station is 3, not 1. Additionally there would have to be an additional 2-3 people per line to handle shift breaks. This assumes all stations are loading and unloading passengers.

So for 5 station Gondolla line, 18-20 people are required at all times just to handle the basic operations and people movement. This does not include specialized ticket checkers and line up monitors. Nor does this include Maintenance personnel.

So lets say we are looking at 5 station line with 12 hour operating time. With these assumptions expect a minimum complement of 120-140 individuals.
You need to compare apples to apples. A single bus that runs from 5am till 2am requires more than one personal also. During regular operations, you'd likely require one or two attendants at each stop. You don't need new specialized ticket checkers IMHO. Additionally, the attendants would likely be 50%-70% the cost of a regular bus driver.

I do not believe this line will have five stations. I believe it will be one at each end, plus one at FMC and one at ACH. Additionally, I don't actually see why it would need to be a loop at all. I think a single bi-directional line (such as at ski hills) from one of the LRT stations to the two principal destinations would be sufficient.

For a three station line (two destination stops plus one LRT stop) I'd say you'd need in total six people max for regular operations, perhaps less. Those six people would cost the same as four regular drivers.

Regarding size of gondola / tram, I'd suggest a true gondola size, though a small tram would be alright if there were savings to be had. A smallish size (say 8 passenger) would allow for a shorter interval between rides and easier management at the stations (perhaps making it easier for fewer staff).
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Old Posted May 4, 2011, 8:01 PM
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Those six people would cost the same as four regular drivers.
I'm sure the union would have something to say about that...
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