An Urban Gondola System That Could Replace Subways

Never before has humanity faced the challenges of resource consumption and an expanding urban population on this scale. In order to meet the needs of the new urbanites, creative solutions are required. While not every idea is worthy of consideration, the concept of an inter-building gondola system has a lot of bonuses, such as costing less than 1/100th of a modern subway system.

“The Wire” gondola system (not to be confused with the Baltimore-based cop drama) is the brainchild of Michael McDaniel, a designer at Frog Design. He asked why gondolas, popular with ski resorts and mountain communities, hadn’t been adopted for use en masse in populated urban areas. As McDaniels sees it, the benefits are tremendous, especially compared to underground transit systems like subways.

For one, there is a whole lot of sky real estate going unused in major metro areas, with almost all traffic taking place at ground level or below. These gondola systems could supposedly be installed at a cost of just $3 million per mile while moving around 10,000 people per hour. A similar subway system would cost $400 million per mile, and couldn’t offer the same direct-to-destination service as a gondola system.

While older buildings could be retrofitted with a gondola system, a new generation of modern buildings could integrate gondolas directly into the design. Malls and food courts would become commonplace in the tallest buildings as larger structures become a microcosm for the rest of the metro area.

Do we expect inter-building gondolas to take over cities any time soon? Not really. But given the challenges facing larger urban areas in the coming decades, this idea might suddenly make a lot more sense one day.



Christopher DeMorro

A writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs, can be found wrenching or writing- or else, he's running, because he's one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.