Monday, November 19, 2007

Another Crazy Transportation idea: High speed sky trams.

Ahh, beautiful San Francisco.. wait are those flying high speed gondolas? Okay ha ha this is ridiculous. But think about this: San Francisco will eventually have to make drastic improvements on their public transportation system. Digging a subway underground is really expensive, and a logistical nightmare. Some cities, like Chicago, built an elevated train above the street which avoided some of these problems. An elevated train is essentially a big long inelegant bridge. What if build an elevated train that takes on the metaphor of a long spanning bridge? Think monorails/gondolas/ziplines/golden gate bridge over the city. We may hold a prejudice that gondolas are only for slow ski lift climbs, but they don't have to be. We could use a really long light weight bridge to carry a fast train-gondola.

It was impossible to build the golden gate bridge until engineers could figure out how to transport a lot of people a far distance while using a really small earth footprint. To build a transportation system across the city we don't have that demanding requirement, but by giving ourselves that goal we might get some good ideas.

Edit Nov 26: I keep thinking about this idea: Here is an image of how this could be realistically implemented. Think how much lighter and cheaper you can make a bridge when you remove the entire weight of the road. Is this simpler and more elegant than digging a subway?-------------------

Edit Dec 04: So I just read that San Francisco has a proposal in the works to extend their subway. There's a heated debate. It's a much needed addition, but it's $1.2 billion. Here is the proposed route. 1.2 billion $? This idea is really starting to seem important now. Yesterday, I biked the route and thought about the logistics of building a system like this. Here's a sketch of a SkyRail station above the existing CalTrain station.

I need to get a faster computer to render videos like this, but here is a really crappy version of the first part of the route. video
I'm talking to a structural engineer to make sure this concept is feasible, and then I'll render a video of the route and photoshop some stations to make this proposal seem really possible.

I think this is worth thinking about as an alternative to building a subway. It could be an beautiful iconic structure. The cable car was a ridiculous system too when that was proposed. Think about it, a huge loop of cable miles long that a car would grab on to? Weird.


Anonymous said...

I think it's a really good idea. I was just thinking the along the same lines with regard to moving people from the Central Valley, near the little town of Patterson, to the South Bay area, near San Jose. Think about it, we really want to move people, not cars. It should be much more efficient, and require less disturbance of the environment, to build an aerial tramway over the coast range, rather than build a new road or set of railroad tracks. Plus, it would run on electricity, hopefully produced in a cleaner way with less air pollution than the thousands of vehicles, each carrying one person, that go over the Altamont Pass or Pacheco Pass each day.
I've just started searching for examples- one is in Portland,OR - they have a high speed tram that moves people 3,300 feet in elevation in 3 minutes.

Anonymous said...

Here's the website for the NY City Aerial Tram


Good luck pursuing your ideas.

Richard Morris said...

Check out Suntram on Youtube.

katty said...

I found a hose throw costa rica homes for sale and I can´t wait more time to go there. But I never went before. So is important to me to know about the transportation in the country which is vey beautiful. How ever, I heard the transportations is really good.