Joe, to answer your questions:
(1) As I mentioned above, I want a better sense of the stations -- how much land they might take up and some mock-ups of what they might look like. In the Medellín system, they're landmarks, much like MARTA stations -- and I don't see how that footprint can be wedged into our intown neighborhoods: http://gondolaproject.com/wp-content/uploa…
These stations need to be a minimum of 30'x10'x10' roughly, but they can certainly be larger. I've seen some that are very minimalist, open air tent-like structures, and some that are big concrete structures like MARTA stations. I would like to see creative, aesthetically pleasing stations that are not terribly expensive or resource intensive. At existing MARTA stations I would envision some sort of addition to those existing structures.
(2) I also want a sense of how close together the stations might be. My sense is that the gondola project is competing with streetcar expansion for our hearts and minds. A major advantage of the streetcar is that stations are close together, and always withing easy walking distance if you're somewhere along the line. For the gondolas to be a worthy competitor, their stations would need to be similarly close together.
This would depend on the route, but I was thinking every 1/2 mile to 2 miles or so. There are examples of "local" lines with multiple stops that run parallel to a line of similar length with no intermediate stops.
(3) It looks like most such projects utilize 4-person cars. Would a single rider be expected to share a car with strangers? I can imagine that this would create safety concerns -- both real and perceived.
You could ride with strangers or choose to wait a few seconds and get on the next car - like riding a ski lift. Cars come large enough to accommodate anywhere from 4-16+ individuals.
(4) Atlanta was an early adopter of bikes on transit, and any expansion of our transit system is expected to carry forth this commitment. How would bikes be transported on the gondolas? If they are carried on the exterior, how could they be secured so that there is no risk of them falling onto people below?
New urban gondola designs out of Germany include bike racks inside. There are also some designs for racks on the outside of the gondola, and some "bikes only" gondolas. Bikes would be welcome!
(5) Like the commenter above, I want to know what the plan is for severe weather? The southeastern US is no place to build a vital component of the infrastructure that has to shut down in a lightning storm.
Gondolas operate on ski resorts around the world. They are designed to withstand severe weather, including high winds and lightning. They are statistically one of the safest forms of transportation out there. Safer than other forms of transit, even. And more reliable.
(6) How will through traffic at intermediate stations be built? For example, one of their proposals is to serve Emory University from Lindbergh with gondolas. Presumable there would be an intermediate station at Sage Hill, much like with the light rail proposal for that same corridor. Since the overwhelming majority of traffic will be between the end points at rush hour, what's to be done to facilitate the person who needs to board at Sage Hill?
I am not personally familiar with exactly how this works, but they do it in other places so there must be a system in place. Perhaps extra cars could be stored at Sage Hill to allow new groups to board.
(7) How will ADA compliance be handled -- both with boarding time and with wheelchair placement inside the car?
Gondolas detach from the cable that pulls them, so they can come to a full stop if needed. They are ADA compliant and easily accessed in a wheelchair or with a bike. Also, average wait time is less than 1 minute.
Gondola capacities are higher than you might expect, so they are no joke and actually already used in many cities around the world. Yes heavy rail like MARTA trains can move more people faster, but they are also WAAAAY more expensive than gondolas.
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