In­fra­struc­ture Panama Canal, the Reboot �Alex Nuss­baum, Nau­reen S. Ma­lik, and Christo­pher Can­non

Nine years of con­struc­tion work, at a cost of more than $5 bil­lion, have equipped the Panama Canal with a third set of locks and deeper nav­i­ga­tion chan­nels, im­prove­ments that will dou­ble its ca­pac­ity. When the new locks slide open for the first time in la

Bloomberg Businessweek (North America) - - Focus On/ Transporta­tion -

of a bus ride. Since then, two more lines have opened, each iden­ti­fied by color. The sys­tem works much like a tra­di­tional sub­way or bus net­work: Rid­ers can board a 10-pas­sen­ger car at any sta­tion, with gon­do­las leav­ing about ev­ery 10 sec­onds from 6:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. Com­muters can change lines at hub sta­tions and make their way to their des­ti­na­tion miles from where they be­gan.

The idea isn’t new. Since the 1950s, Chiatura, a min­ing town of dra­matic cliffs and deep val­leys in the coun­try of Ge­or­gia, has been served by a net­work of more than a dozen aerial tramways. Al­giers and other Al­ge­rian cities have used ca­ble cars as pub­lic tran­sit since at least 1956. And New York opened the tramway from Man­hat­tan to Roo­sevelt Is­land in 1976.

The ad­van­tages of gon­dola lines are sim­ple: They’re rel­a­tively in­ex­pen­sive and easy to build, re­quir­ing lit­tle of the on-the- ground in­fra­struc­ture needed for sub­ways or street­cars. Cre­ative Ur­ban Projects, a trans­porta­tion con­sult­ing firm, es­ti­mates that the cost is usu­ally about half that of a street­car cov­er­ing the same dis­tance, though gon­do­las are typ­i­cally bet­ter suited to, say, cross­ing a river or climb­ing a moun­tain, where rail would be ex­pen­sive or im­prac­ti­cal. The big­gest is­sue is often find­ing lo­ca­tions to place $625 the tow­ers that sup­port the cables.

The down­side is that gon­do­las can carry a max­i­mum of about 6,000 peo­ple per hour in each di­rec­tion, around 10 per­cent of what a sub­way can, and they’re more sus­cep­ti­ble to in­clement weather. While high winds can be mit­i­gated by new tech­nolo­gies and heat­ing or cool­ing the cab­ins is pos­si­ble, both can jack up the price quickly. In some places there’s concern about the cab­ins pass­ing too close to build­ings, al­low­ing rid­ers to peer into apart­ment win­dows.

An­other is­sue is main­te­nance. Lifts at ski ar­eas typ­i­cally run less than eight hours a day for a bit more than four months a year, with oc­ca­sional light duty in the sum­mer—leav­ing plenty of down­time for re­pairs. A city gon­dola must run ev­ery day, from early morn­ing un­til late into the evening. “A one-week in­ter­rup­tion isn’t ac­cept­able on a tramway or any ur­ban trans­porta­tion ser­vice,” says Ni­co­las Tul­loue, an architect at French ur­ban plan­ning firm MDP Con­sult­ing who’s worked on a ca­ble car project near Paris.

So while a few places may build full­blown net­works like La Paz, ca­ble cars are more likely to be a component of a broader tran­sit sys­tem. A Rus­sian city is con­sid­er­ing a gon­dola to link sub­way lines across a river, Paris is study­ing a project to con­nect two train sta­tions sep­a­rated by the Seine, and a real es­tate en­tre­pre­neur in New York has pitched the idea of a gon­dola span­ning the East River from Brook­lyn to Man­hat­tan. “Ca­ble isn’t an al­ter­na­tive to the metro or the bus but a com­ple­men­tary trans­porta­tion mode,” says Chris­tian Bou­vier, Poma’s com­mer­cial di­rec­tor. “Ca­ble sys­tems can be built faster than bridges, and the cost is far cheaper.”

For the lift mak­ers, ur­ban sys­tems pro­vide an av­enue of growth as their tra­di­tional mar­kets—the Alps and the Rockies—reach sat­u­ra­tion. The busi­ness of pro­vid­ing lifts to ski ar­eas is likely to show lit­tle growth in com­ing decades as global warm­ing threat­ens the fu­ture of snow sports and op­po­si­tion in­creases to the open­ing of new re­sorts or even the ex­pan­sion of ex­ist­ing ones. Dop­pel­mayr in 2012 cre­ated a divi­sion for ur­ban trans­porta­tion, and such projects last year rep­re­sented about 15 per­cent of rev­enue, triple the share four years ear­lier. “In our core busi­ness in ski ar­eas in

TEU stands for 20-foot-equiv­a­lent unit, a mea­sure of con­tainer ship ca­pac­ity million Pro­jected fi­nal cost of the Mi Tele­férico gon­dola sys­tem in Bo­livia’s La Paz Liq­ue­fied nat­u­ral gas tankers now will be able to tra­verse the canal, open­ing mar­kets for U.S. shale gas

days around the Cape of Good Hope in Africa days through the Suez Canal days through the ex­panded Panama Canal

Europe and North Amer­ica, we’re not do­ing much more than re­build­ing ex­ist­ing sys­tems,” Pich­ler says. “Cities are grow­ing fast, and our in­stal­la­tions can re­ally im­prove daily life.” �David Rocks and Ania Nuss­baum, with Cather­ine El­ton

The bot­tom line Gon­do­las are be­ing con­sid­ered as a component of mass tran­sit net­works in dozens of cities world­wide.

project will be a suc­cess be­cause its cool­ing and fil­ter­ing tech­nolo­gies min­i­mize stress for lob­sters. Dutch fish seller Wester­weel says her com­pany isn’t plan­ning to switch solely to ocean ship­ping for lob­sters, but she sees a fu­ture for the spe­cial con­tain­ers. “There is al­ways a price risk,” she says. “We will prob­a­bly use both means of trans­port.” �Nicholas Braut­lecht

The bot­tom line Car­ri­ers say con­tain­ers tai­lored to trans­port goods such as fruit, flow­ers, or phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals can shore up flag­ging prof­its.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.