I was in Porto earlier this month and tried one of the quirkiest shared mobility option I’ve seen in cities: an urban gondola. It’s the second time I’ve come across one in a city: the first one was in New York.
Mass transit always has been fundamental to the success of cities. Yet, land is scarce in urban centers, infrastructure costs are constantly rising, and most transit bodies are tight for money. So they have to look for alternative ways of offering transportation options. Sometimes it’s creating policies so that private company are able to offer services such as carsharing or bikesharing. And sometimes it’s looking at a problem with new eyes.
And that’s why gondolas are now no longer just seen on ski hills but increasingly also in cities. The very first one was the Roosevelt Island Tramway in New York that opened in 1976, connecting Roosevelt Island to the Upper Eastside of Manhattan. For decades it was the only one until cities realised there are advantages to building gondola systems. They are less invasive to neighbourhoods because there is no need to demolish houses or relocate residents and smaller systems can be built in short time frames.
And for me as a commuter, I get to see my city from above and enjoy a bird’s eye of everyone else who is stuck in traffic.