Clean Transport

Published on January 3rd, 2013 | by James Ayre


Gondolas As Next Generation Of Mass Transit In Big Cities?

January 3rd, 2013 by  

A mass transit system composed of hanging gondolas moving throughout the city sky? It may sound a bit unlikely, but it would be a surprisingly cheap solution when compared to other options, such as subways.


The idea for a network grid of mass transit gondolas, known as “The Wire,” comes from Michael McDaniel, a designer at Frog Design. The idea is being put forward as a solution to the congestion and transportation problems in Austin, TX.

Somewhat surprisingly, there are quite a few significant advantages to such a solution, as Autoblog Green notes: “gondolas would be cheaper than subways (by a long shot – subways can cost up to $400 million per mile and The Wire could be implemented for around $3 million a mile) and they can be used in tight, congested areas. A gondola system – easy (relatively) to install and expand – could also move up to 10,000 people an hour, which could replace 100 bus trips or 2,000 car rides.”

There are some problems that are worth noting, though — issues with wind and with how strange the solution seems to people, being the primary ones.

Here’s a full, nearly 15-minute presentation on the idea by Michael McDaniel:

Michael McDaniel: Rethinking Solutions For The City from Piers Fawkes on Vimeo.

What do you think of the idea — great one, or too out there?

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About the Author

's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy. You can follow his work on Google+.

  • sagisarius

    I like this, but it seems a lot like all of those PRT systems from a few years ago…. which also seemed like a good idea, but never really caught on.

  • Sean

    Amusingly you dont tell readers how many people a subway can move per hour.
    Nor dollars per person moved.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Cars suspended from a rigid track. That might be worth considering. Something like the Bangkok SkyTrain but upside down. Run more frequent cars so that the load is more evenly distributed.

      At the minimum someone should do the math.

      But what’s shown in the art work isn’t practical.

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