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.


Officials in Calgary are considering intalling a gondola transit system, similiar to this one in Medellin, Colombia. (Courtesy Steven Dale)

The gondola, similar to those used at ski resorts, could have several stops, covering three to five kilometres in a horseshoe shape, said Neil McKendrick Calgary's manager of transit planning.

"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.


Gondolas depart and approach a metro station in Medellin, Colombia. (Courtesy Steven Dale )

Urban cable-propelled transit systems are already in use in many cities around the globe, including Portland, New York City, Medellin, Colombia, and Lisbon, Portugal.

"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.

The cars would hold six to 10 people and come by every 10 seconds or so.

The city hopes to begin a study this fall to see if a gondola is feasible.