Every few years a new proposal pops up wanting us to invest in a new or different form of transport – invariably that only the proposer can provide. And that’s happened once again, this time with a suggestion to build a gondola over the harbour.

A gondola line above Auckland’s Waitematā Harbour is being proposed by the world’s biggest maker of the technology, as a low cost, high-capacity public transport system.

Austrian firm Doppelmayr is working on a possible 4.2km line linking Wynyard Quarter, Bayswater and the Akoranga bus station. It could be built within 2-3 years, costing around $200 million.

Doppelmayr’s Christchurch-located New Zealand subsidiary has had initial discussions with Waka Kotahi including the ability of the line to carry cyclists across the harbour.

Unlike most ‘left field’ proposals, gondolas are at least an existing and proven technology .

While a new idea in New Zealand for urban transport, Doppelmayr has built big systems in South American cities, with a 31km network in La Paz, Bolivia, carrying more than 265,000 passengers a day.

Doppelmayr calls the technology “ropeways”, and there are differing systems, from smaller vehicles, to 78-passenger cars used in a Portland system, to a 200-seat double-decker in a Vietnamese theme park.

“We are generally one-third the cost of light rail, one-tenth the cost of going underground, and we have a modular design which means that construction projects are very short in comparison,” said Garreth Hayman, the general manager of Doppelmayr Lifts NZ Ltd.

The proposed cross-harbour line could be built with 2-3 large pylons between the stations.

While the firm has not released any artists impressions of what a cross-harbour line might look like, Stuff understands quite a bit of work has been done behind the scenes.

Hayman said Bayswater provided both a good location for a pylon, but also a transport link for the congested Devonport peninsula.

“I know of the (congestion) issues along Lake Road, but if Bayswater people did not want the connection then it could go direct,” he said.

Hayman acknowledged that opinions on the visual impact of tall pylons might be a hurdle, but he was confident that once built, people would enjoy it.

So presumably a route something like this. Having the terminal at Wynyard would probably mean a station out at the end in the headland park, making it quite a long walk from the city centre and having fairly limited bus connections to go elsewhere. Perhaps Queens Wharf would be a better location for the station, right downtown next to Britomart.

Gondolas have some unique benefits over other forms of transport, in particular, they have very high frequency with, depending on the system, cabins able to depart multiple times per minute. They’re also great at getting over obstacles such as mountains or water and while they’re not always super fast, with systems seeming to be in the 15-30km/h range, they are direct so can be competitive with other modes and a useful point to point system. The busway takes about eight minutes to get from Akoranga to the start of Fanshawe Street, all going well, so it seems the ropeway might not be any quicker to Wynyard. However if it went to downtown instead there would be a clear advantage.

Furthermore, depending on the size of the cabins, they can have reasonable capacity. On cabin size, it does vary from system to system but most lines used for urban transport are in the in the range of 6-10 passengers per cabin, particularly the ones seen in those South American cities that operate on a continuous loop with a single cable. Some continuous loop lines have larger cabins though, for example a gondola planned in Vancouver to Simon Fraser University is planned to have cabins capable of carrying up to 35 people at once – the same as a gondola in Koblenz, Germany (below). These use a triple cable system, where two fixed support cables act like the rails of a train track, while a third moving cable pulls the cabins along.

Nonetheless, it seems like the largest cabins (like Portland’s 78 person “aerial tram”) are limited to short lines with two counterbalanced cabins that bounce back and forth, a bit like wellington’s cable car but suspended in the air. This is probably a weight issue for the cables and support towers and it seems unlikely that a very long cableway across Auckland’s harbour could use them quite so big.

They do have some downsides however, such as potentially struggling with peak capacity if smaller cabins are used – if everyone turns up at once, like after work, you may end up having to wait longer than you would to catch a bus. As covered already, a lot depends on the size of cabins on the system and if smaller ones are used, there’s not going to be much room for bikes, which is important given this proposal seems to be being suggested as an alternative to a walking and cycling connection. As we see on our buses and trains, people don’t like to cram into every last seat if they can help it, and throwing bikes into the mix means the capacity might be half what they claim in day to day use. There’s also the not insignificant visual issue of the towers that are needed to hold the ropes up, something that will be a major talking point in a city like Auckland.

London’s Gondola

If this is to be a replacement for a walking and cycling crossing on the existing or a new bridge, there’s also the issue that you’ll only be able to use the gondola when it’s operational. It’s worth noting that when Waka Kotahi came up with the idea of the now cancelled dedicated walking and cycling bridge, they did include a gondola as one of their assessment options and noted it would only run from 6am to 12pm – ferries or dedicated bike buses had this issue too.

So while there may be some uses for a gondola, and it may be more beneficial than a ferry bouncing back and forth, it does feel like this is somewhat of a distraction from options such as reallocating a lane/s on the existing bridge.

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133 comments

  1. Not to mention that you are locked in to one company’s services and pricing forever. If the cost of a repair suddenly increases by 200% and there’s no one else who can do it then you have to stump up

  2. So I first heard about this when a colleague started ranting about the bunch of clowns at AT proposing a gondola across the harbour.

    In reality this is just a gondola company trying to sell a gondola.

    Liberate

    The

    Lane!

      1. Well, sir, there’s nothing on earth like a genuine, bona fide… electrified, six-seat gondola. What’d I say?

        Gondola.

        What’s it called?

        Gondola.

        That’s right, gondola!

        ♫ Gondola. Gondola. Gondola. ♫

        1. Now I want my monorail proposal

          Pretty sure at least one mayoral candidate could be sold on the idea.

        2. Before GA there used to be a discussion forum I can’t remember the name of where quoting or paraphrasing from the monorail Simpsons episode guaranteed you a permaban

    1. Agreed, liberate the lane, and don’t waste public money investigating something that should be dismissed straight away.

  3. No one has brought up the issue of wind. We see the harbour bridge with speed restrictions or closures when it’s very windy, so I’d guess the gondolas would stop too. And with people halfway across the harbour trapped inside for hours?

    1. A lot of Doppelmeyer gondolas on ski fields operate in up to 100km/h of wind. You’d probably be closing the bridge for cycling before you closed the gondola. There are way bigger issues with this proposal than wind.

      1. All the same, I wouldn’t fancy being stuck in one of these things in a Wellington southerly storm.

      2. London’s “dangleway” closes due to high winds all the time, and that’s not even close to the kind of weather you get in the Waitemata harbour.

  4. The only real issue I can see is the ugliness of if to some people (I personally think they look quite cool). I think that will be a deal breaker. Maybe the harbour isn’t the best place to start.
    In terms of capacity it seems pretty good for 200 mil. We are spending $1 bil just to give some buses a dedicated lane in east Auckland. I know GA aren’t a fan of any “new” transport modes, but that just leaves us with crappy buses costing billions or rail costing tens of billions.

    1. Yea maybe a gondola will make sense somewhere else. I’d suggest anywhere there is not a parallel 8 lane bridge.

        1. And it was built as a temporary solution while a subway station was under construction. Its ridership fell sharply once the subway was completed and now it seems to more be targeted at tourists and sightseers than urban commuters.

          In Auckland’s case, the gondola proposal is merely trying to distract from the actually needed solutions of:
          1. An active mode walking & cycling crossing of the harbour
          2. A mass transit (busway or rail) crossing of the harbour

          The temporary solution in this case should be to convert 1 lane on the AHB to a walking/cycling pathway, and have at least 1 other lane become a tidal flow buslane.

          The more permanent solution should be an AWHC bridge carrying permanent walking/cycling paths, rail, and maybe 2 bus lanes.

    2. That’s kind of a fallitical argument Jimbo. From what I’ve read GA have never been against adding more transit modes to Auckland’s mix – especially when compared to heavy rail dogmatists among NZ First, National, C&R etc. who basically insist that all RTN lines must be built as extensions of the existing suburban rail network.

      Matt gives good criticisms of a gondola in his article; that it only seems to have been proposed and latched onto by the media in an effort to detract from the cheapest, quickest solution: liberating a lane. If you’re proposing underground or elevated metro, monorails, gondolas, PRT pods, or anything just for the sake of retaining an excess of general traffic lanes or avoiding building proven walking/cycling/bus/rail infrastructure, it’s a bad idea.

      Yes, the expense of transit builds in Auckland is an issue, but surely we should be focusing on bringing those costs down not abandoning bus and rail for boondoggles? As far as I’m aware many of the cost issues are because AT and NZTA are trying to preserve too much space for cars (the Burswood deviation on the Eastern Busway, tunneled light rail)

      1. No need to make a bike lane on the harbour bridge, a dedicated small bus could be transporting bicycle users to and fro on similar cost to other public transport. Cost would be minute in the grand scheme of things. And then an accurate judgement could be made on the numbers wanting to bike from shore to Ak and vice versa.

        1. Wrong. They’ve tried shuttle buses in the past and they failed because they couldn’t attract demand.

          Cyclists want to cycle directly across the Harbour Bridge, without having to get on and off shuttle buses or ‘special ferries’ anything. What you are suggesting is like forcing drivers to drive onto the back of a car transporter to cross the Harbour Bridge.

          Just admit you don’t want to give up general traffic lanes, Roj. There’s ample evidence that a pathway across the AHB would create its own demand, and have minimal or even a positive impact on traffic across the rest of the motorway network

        2. Yea nah, there fully is the need for bike and pedestrians space on the bridge. There is no substitute for this either.

        3. Or maybe chose to live in a location where you CAN bike to where you want to go. Saving the planet starts at home.

        4. Great idea J, it’s really that easy. I’ve chosen to live in 6 bedroom mansion in Ponsonby but for some reason the mortgage brokers don’t agree.

        5. Maybe down-sizing and living within your means might be a good way to save the planet

          If you were serious about riding you bike to work, and saving the planet, you would be doing it already

          Stop blaming the world (or the Bank) for the poor decisions you make

        6. “No highways an inner city motorways. You live where you can drIve to your job on a local street. No network required”

          See how dumb that approach would have been? Requiring people to move house every time they change job, or be limited to a very small range of jobs. Even worse if you might dare use a car for anything outside a work commute. And there would be no roading network. Just a bunch of isolated streets. Kind of like the cycleways we have now.

          If its not acceptable for cars and drivers, its not acceptable for other modes.

        7. “Cyclists want to cycle directly across the Harbour Bridge”

          Wah wah wah. That is the problem, cyclists are a noisy lobby group who want, want, want.

          Translation. ” few cyclists wish they could ride across the Harbour Bridge so they don’t have to use the bus, that has already been provided.

    3. “I know GA aren’t a fan of any “new” transport modes”

      It’s amazing that GA gets absolutely lambasted for being ‘obsessed’ with light rail and lambasted for being ‘opposed’ to new transport modes.

    4. I think the process will involve giving the gondola option and a tunnel option to the Auckland Light Rail people to evaluate. And of course they will recommend a hybrid option of digging a huge tunnel and running a gondola in that. The study will cost $50million.

      1. With so much uncertainty in the world right now, I’m strangely comforted by how your “jokes” continue to be as predictable as Russian tank manoeuvres

    5. So the real question should be why is it costing that much to build a bus lane, not let’s propose something even more ridiculous to get people across the harbour rather than liberating a lane.
      The answer is probably because they didn’t want to in convince anyone driving a car.

  5. I’ve sold monorails to Brockway, Ogdenville, and North Haverbrook, and by gum, it put them on the map! Well sir, there’s nothing on Earth like a genuine, bonafide, electrified six-car monorail!

      1. Transport-related Simpsons are great, e.g. the episode where Homer designs his dream car (an $82,000 monstrosity). And don’t forget the one where the Simpsons buy a Canyonero SUV, endorsed by Krusty in a previous episode:

    1. Well, sir, there’s nothing on earth like a genuine, bona fide… electrified, six-seat gondola. What’d I say?

      Gondola.

      What’s it called?

      Gondola.

      That’s right, gondola!

      ♫ Gondola. Gondola. Gondola. ♫

  6. Interesting proposal, but on balance I think the Kelly Tarleton sea-floor perspex tunnel moving walkway idea has the edge.

  7. The underpants Gnome approach to Gondola contracts:

    Phase 1: Flatter Bob Harvey
    Phase 2: ?
    Phase 3: Profit

  8. I visited La paz a number of years ago and used the Gondola which costs NZD equivalent of 20c for a ride across the city. It’s the main form of public transport, but being in the Andes there probably are not many other feasible options.

    Although maybe not a serious contender for Auckland, it does show there are other options available as opposed to the usual buses, trains and ferries. Looking at Gondolas and what they offer would help open our minds and maybe lead to other innovative options or combinations of options.

  9. Economists try to find leading indicators of recessions. I think there are three:
    1/ A tower crane in Takapuna (This one is by far the most accurate predictor of recession);
    2/ A new resource consent for that empty site on Elliot Street. or
    3/ Crazy transport ideas pushed by some large company trying to clip the public ticket. (eg who remembers Fletchers ‘Project 90’ where they were wanting to underground Quay Street with them owning the land above? Or the ‘alternative’ accesses to Milford Sound?)

    1. Air-space developments over the Wellington train station have also been an extremely accurate predictor over the last 40 years.

    2. What does the tower crane near the beach signify? Is that anything to do with recession, or is Council lifting the beach to mitigate against the effects of sea level rise?

      1. I think it indicates the economy has overheated to the point where some idiot has had a rush of blood to the head and is about to lose his shirt.

  10. I have an idea: Why don’t they liberate a lane for walking and cycling? See how it goes.

    Then if more capacity is required, we could look at other options. Perhaps…. liberating another lane? Or a new bridge? Or ferries. Or a gondola.

    Based loosely on WK’s Intervention Hierarchy, and on basic Climate Planning principles…

      1. Why don’t you want to support a <$15 million one-off investment to close off 1 clip-on lane and fit it with safety barriers to become a pathway?

        Far cheaper than the long-term OPEX of "ferry bike shuttles" or "bus bike shuttles" – and far more likely to attract walkers and cyclists.

  11. The plan how they have suggested, will go to Akoranga station. Where the is single activity to do, is get on a bus. Even Takapuna, is probably a bus ride for many, a which point you have to ask why did you not just take the bus?

    The project as they suggested is absurd, I hope it does not get a cent government funding.

  12. And welcome to yet another episode of ‘NZ media giving lavish attention to boondoggle transit solutions because of their bias against cycling and public transport’

    1. Seriously, this is a ridiculous proposal. You could vastly improve transit to Bayswater by running more frequent ferries using the existing wharves; and you could vastly improve transit to the Takapuna area by extending the Northern Busway south of Akoranga, creating bus lanes on the AHB, running the 82 bus more frequently, and eventually building light rail or light metro (whether as a branch line like proposed in the CFN 2.0 or as part of a single trunk line to Albany/Orewa as the current official plans indicate)

      And for walking, cycling, tourism? Liberating a lane on the AHB would be cheaper, quicker, easier, and likely appeal to more people, especially if the gondola would charge a fee.

      1. 100% agree. not to mention that council has stated that there probably won’t be a ferry terminal in Bayswater once the license expires in 2031… facepalm moment. we need these sorts of travel options, not gondolas.

      2. Or you could run the 82 at twice or three times the frequency, terminating at Akoranga and it would not cost a cent extra. I know it would be tough. You would then have to walk 5m through a station to catch either the NEX1, NEX2 (and soon to be NEX3?) thereby tripling your options.
        I wouldn’t work though because AT struggles with change.

  13. This post comes across as Matt really trying hard to find something wrong with this idea. When I first saw these in Mexico City I was sceptical, but learned how many people they move. They work on the ski mountain, and in the city. They elevate the travellers above the issues on the ground network, which lets face it is much more liable to be interrupted than the gondola. And the views! Bicycles could be loaded on racks on the outside of the cars, so not such an issue. And while they would be subject to congestion, the lines would move quickly as multiple cars per minute would be whisking people away. The terminus should be in downtown, and some effort should go into linking other transport modes so that this forms part of a network. As for operating hours, of course they would operate for as many hours as needed, adjusted according to demand. I think this is an idea that we should really look at.

    1. Really? I was amazed how positive this was. This idea to Wynyard to Akoranga is batty.

      At Wynyard you can walk to walk to Victoria park and catch pretty much any bus, and get to Akoranga in few minutes. I’d say the frequencies would sub 5 minutes, but I don’t know, because Akoranga is hardly a destination, this segways into the next issue. What do you do at Akoranga? Get on bus and go somewhere else.

    2. Hard disagree Paul. I agree with Matt L, and do not believe that a Waitemata Crossing is a good application for a gondola. All this proposal is is just another attempt by car-biased media outlets to detract from any active mode crossing options.

      Attaching bikes onto the outsides of gondolas suspended tens of metres above the Waitemata? Hahahahahahah…good one mate.

      The simplest, quickest, and cheapest (<$15 million) solution for an alternate Waitemata crossing would be to liberate a lane on the Harbour Bridge and create a 3.5+m wide interim walking & cycling path. Same views, free crossing, no danger of bikes falling into the water.

      Following that, an AWHC bridge option carrying busway, light rail/metro, and permanent walking & cycling paths should be built from Wynyard Quarter to Northcote Point.

      Once Auckland has established harbour crossings for mass transit and active modes, THEN would be a better time to consider nice-to-haves like a gondola.

      1. Doppelmayr build gondolas with cabins capable of seating anywhere from 4 to 230 passengers, anyone with any ability to think would realise if they want to carry bikes it’s not going to be a 4 person cabin, it will be a much larger cabin, maybe you should check out the Doppelmayr 3S system on there webpage.

        https://www.doppelmayr.com/products/3s-gondola-lift/

        1. “Anyone with the ability to think” should realize that:

          1. People want to walk and cycle straight across the Harbour Bridge; not wait for a ferry or a gondola car
          2. Liberating a lane or two on the Harbour Bridge is empirically the lowest-cost, highest-benefit option. It could be done for $15-20 million tops and rolled out quickly, if it wasn’t for the carbrains in government, in the NZTA, in the media.
          3. All this talk about boondoggles or transit modes quite frankly better suited to tourist attractions or specific hilly terrains just slows actual progress in improving transit.

        2. If a cross harbour gondola ever does eventuate, I would prefer it to come well after an active mode lane on the present AHB or an AWHC bridge for mass transit, walking & cycling. And even then, improvements to ferries (electric propulsion, higher frequency service) should probably come before the gondola – unless a private interest is willing to cover all the costs of building and running the gondola. That’s my view

        3. A very tiny number of people want to cycle or walk across the bridge daily, less then 600 of them if the statistics are accurate. A gondola would attract far more than that, especially tourists.

          Liberating a lane is more of a boondoggle than this proposal.

        4. …bloody hell I hate this country sometimes.

          I can GUARANTEE you the gondola will never happen. The cost will spiral, NIMBYs will whinge about disrupted views and the proposal will disappear.

          $15 million. Liberate the lane. Bugger the opinions of uneducated Kiwis, it NEEDS to happen for the sake of the climate and the sake of mobility.

        5. Good one, that’s a joke. Of course ratepayer money would get dragged into a gondola project… with little to no criticism, because of course anything that preserves the precious lanes of cars is good and okay.

          $15 million. Liberate the Lane.

      2. Attaching bikes onto the outsides of gondolas suspended tens of metres above the Waitemata? Hahahahahahah…good one mate

        And yet that’s exactly what they do in in Queenstown.

        1. A *tourist attraction* gondola, Rob. Not a means of active transit in an urban environment.

          All this BS about gondolas and ferries and whatnot detracts from the actual simple solution (sadly ignored by car-brained politicians and media) of liberating a lane.

          People want to walk and cycle directly across the Waitemata on a bridge – not have to wait in a queue for a ferry or hurry to load their bikes precariously on a gondola. C’mon, it’s simple.

        2. A gondola is a gondola.
          But unfortunately for you there are a lot more ‘car brains’ around than bike brains. FFS you’re not liberating a lane give it up.

        3. So idiot Kiwis would rather have over $200 million wasted so they can continue to be stuck in traffic jams and continue to look down on cyclists?

          FFS I hate this country sometimes. This is where democracy goes wrong. Greedy selfish idiots – it’s LITERALLY the cheaper, better solution to liberate a lane. Bloody hell.

        4. Do not bloody patronize me mate. I have good reason to be angry.

          What I WANT is kiwis to have common sense and intelligence, and support the cheapest, quickest option for active mode travel across the Waitemata.

        5. “support the cheapest, quickest option for active mode travel across the Waitemata.’

          That would be a car trailer, with some wooden ramps. Its the same tech that I use to move my lawn mower from job to job

        6. Very funny.

          How about we offer that same mentality to cars? Scrap the Harbour Bridge and demolish it, go back to car ferries from Wynyard to Northcote Point. It worked in the past, noone should complain and if they do they’re selfish buggers who I will ceaselessly insult and deride.

          That’s what you sound like.

    3. Matt doesn’t have to try very hard at all. In fact I can’t see anything good about this proposal at all.
      The London Gondola cost around £60 million back in 2012. Initial cost estimate was £25 million. They are shortly about to loose their name sponsor. Their two pylons on either side of the Thames are under 500m apart, 60m and 87m high, with a minimum clearance of 54.1m above mean high water mark. In comparison to the proposed Auckland harbour crossing that looks straight forward and they still went massively over budget.
      Auckland Harbour Bridge has a clearance of 43.27 metres above high water, my understanding is that some ships already need to wait for the tide to turn before going underneath. The proposed route has a distance between pylons of over 2kms. So more than 4 times the distance of the London crossing.
      Those against the cable car London said it was impractical, would only appeal to tourists at peak times and unlikely to attract a large number of cross-river locals or commuters due to its location and the cost of tickets. They have yet to find a replacement sponsor for it despite reducing the cost.
      I would love to see some number regarding how tall the pylons would need to be and I can not see how the Auckland version wouldn’t have the same issues regarding location and cost to end users as the London one.

      Liberate the lane and allow people to walk / cycle / scooter across the harbour bridge, as was originally proposed, at will 24/7.

  14. I can see why they’ve chosen Bayswater, but have they even done their research on the future of the marina? We might not even have a ferry terminal once the license expires in 2031 (Council keeps saying that there wont be a ferry anymore after that time!!!), plus we have a developer trying to push through RC to turn the whole marina into a residential development!

  15. How about the Gondola goes to Takarunga / Mount Victoria in Devonport, then we build some downhill mountain bike trails? We could be the Rotorua of the north! I love the MTB gondolas in Rotorua and Queenstown!

    MTB trails on sacred maunga doesn’t seem any less nutty than the gondola idea…

    1. I get you are joking, but Britomart to Devonport would be far better as it both ends are real destinations. So random trips there would actually make some sense and actual transport would be served better with bikes profiting a bit.

      This would be much faster than ferry which it would probably kill(but this frees up dock space allowing other harbour trips so it’s all good).

      But yea either way it’s dumb and not going to happen.

        1. It could be cheaper than getting the Fullers ferry to Devonport possibly ? or greate a price war .
          And I wonder if Hop Cards will be able to be used on it .

        2. I would doubt that.

          Also if building a park and ride is needed to make another transport asset work, that transport asset should not be built.

        3. Yes there is a park and ride at Devonport and amazingly now that people have to pay to use it it has become way less popular.

        4. Yes way better to bus to a gondola or ferry. Put money into more bus services not parking for multiple reasons covered on this blog before.

  16. Look like WK is trying to bypass the ‘Liberate the lane” issue with lot of other mad proposal.

    Could someone please tell the WK to stop spending money on other hare-brained ideas and please allocate a lane for walkers and cyclists.

    Hopefully the rest of the money will go somewhere useful for more cycleways, e-bike subsidies, walkways and road safety.

  17. Ha ha, when I first heard about this I assumed it was Skycabs back again (https://www.skycabs.co.nz/)

    Seriously; just like the Skycabs rort, this is an attempt to replace public transport (“boring, poor people sit on it and make it dirty”) with something flash that appeals to narcissists with finance capital and/or political pull.

  18. I wonder what the security on these systems are like – who would want to be trapped on a 12 person gondola with three hoodlums determined on mugging a trapped crowd of well healed commuters, or someone with mental health problems and a knife? Sounds silly, but it would only take a couple of incidents and the system would be abandoned by the public, while mitigating the potential for them often adds a lot of money to the project.

    1. That is a good point, I didn’t consider that when I initially read the proposal yesterday. Just having one bad experience would put off people for a long time potentially, even perhaps deter them from other/all forms of PT.

    2. Sanctuary that’s a very good point and something I’ve noticed in NZ and around the world. People are reluctant to share a cabin with others, so after waiting in the queue they decide to hold back and take the next one a few seconds later, rather than pile in with strangers.

      End result is those cabins might hold eight or ten or whatever seats, but they actually get about two or maybe four people in each one.

      I guess its different from a bus or a train where there is more of a crowd and you can move around and get off if you need to. With the pods you’re stuck within arms reach until the end.

  19. I almost feel we should just do it, considering how much money we spend on consultations. $200mil is a drop in the bucket. Almost cheaper to try.

    In all seriousness though, this is also a large Austrian firms, their prices don’t seem to be going up excessively, and the project could be delivered on time and on budget.

    They’re also building these in Vietnam where this makes sense.

    1. And for those out there it’s not like you are going around all the Hardware stores trying to find all the gear to build a one off these firms have all the gear and design for the system no matter where .

  20. If you really, really didn’t want to liberate a lane and decided to just force cyclists onto PT from Akoranga, you would either:
    – modify the seats downstairs on the NEX to take bikes and run a few more buses at peak; or;
    – run 6 buses an hour between Akoranga and Victoria Park which with a custom internal layout to take bikes with the rider sat opposite.

    Any other PT proposal is only there to distract from real solutions, such as liberating a lane.

  21. I looked at Gondolas for Auckland last year. The tech is fairly cheap and practical but slow speed makes it good only for routes over rough terrain.

    As Matt points out the biggest competition to this is going to be the existing bus and any future train line. I can’t imagine there will be much demand at Bayswater so this will depend on a lot of cyclists to create the demand.

    I had a look at other routes in Auckland. A possible one was going from Aotea to the University to Parnell. Quite short but lots of potential demand and hills and valleys suited to Gondola.

    https://blog.darkmere.gen.nz/2021/09/auckland-gondolas-practical-or-a-rope-to-nowhere/

  22. I was arguing this proposal over on LinkedIn yesterday, and my figures were simply not matching up with those of other people. Their argument was that a Gondola system could match the capacity of a bus service. I said No, it can’t, its just not feasible.

    With a bus carrying 80 passengers each time, and 32 buses per hour meaning a carrying capacity of 2600 passengers an hour. That’s one bus every 111 seconds, ie just under one every 2 minutes. Total of 46,800 people per 18 hour day. Unlikely to get more than a bus every two minutes I think?

    By contrast, an aerial Gondola would have a capacity of 8 passengers (for the sort of thing they are proposing) and so you would need 325 gondolas an hour, running at about 15km/h and fully loading a new gondola every 11 seconds – ie about 6 gondolas every minute of the day. (My calc worked on everything having an 18 hour work day – ie from 6 in the morning till midnight). That would also equal 46,800 people per day. I’ve never been on a commuter line like the one in La Paz – but the touristy gimmick one in London has been a bit of a disaster as I understand.

    I dunno – what do you think? Is it feasible to have one gondola load every 11 seconds? I know you might get something like that on a ski lift on Ruapehu – is that feasible for an aerial commuter “rope-line”?

    1. Yes cable cars really can do those capacities. 2000 pph is common. Medellin line P is rated to 4000 per hour.

      Watch the video below and note the interval between cars.

    2. We already have more than a bus a minute on the northern busway, almost all double deckers with 100 passengers.

  23. Let me see:
    Bike ferry,bike bus,new bridge,new tunnel ,bike the long way,clip on bridge,gondola ,anything, but Liberate the Lane.
    Waiting for catapults, aqua cycles,wet suits for pedestrians,great triathlon training (run,swim,bike,arrive at work). With some creative ,out of the box thinking,surely there is a solution.

    1. A friend once paddleboarded from Bayswater to the Viaduct for work a few years ago. A bit dodgy taking a laptop to work in this way – even in a dry bag!

  24. The Gondola in Otautahi Christchurch does not run when the wind gets up.
    And the other downsides are real unfortunately.

    Having said that I rode a gondola in Germany up the side of a mountain, big enough for 3 tandems plus riders, so they do exist.

  25. This is the height of stupidity. The best, most cost effective solution, consistent with whatever plan you care to mention – central city master plan, A4E, climate change, reduced VKT, etc etc – is to allocate a lane on the bridge. We are wasting time and oxygen on the inevitable solution for how to get bikes, walkers and micro mobility modes across the harbour.

    In saying that, I have always thought gondolas have their place, its just not as a cross harbour route – not this one, anyway.

    1. But can AT liberate the lane to even close the $ amount of building a gondola? Some consultation, expert opinion, overpriced paint and this gondola will seem like a bargain

      1. Consultation fees A couple million$$$’s Expert opinion Basically the same and most of them wouldn’t Know what the hell they are taking about as they are has been consultants who were fired from somewhere previously for getting it wrong . And there goes the cost of the Project .

        As for AT and the bridge lane it would cheaper to build one then talk too WK .

      2. Are we suggesting the gondola won’t be subject to internal/independent consultation running into the millions? No overpriced paint from a supplier who wants their pound of flesh from the ratepayers?

        1. This

          People have jumped on the $200m figure as if it was a fully costed fact.

          You could also look at the cost of light rail project or active mode bridges in some cherry picked locations overseas, point out it was proven technology and companies are very experienced in building the systems, and come up with attractive looking prices.

          Then the investigative and consulting phase kicks in and suddenly that $200m figure being thrown around starts looking more like $600m.

          Remember the SkyPath – a small low cost cycleway that got to $600m before being canned. Given that in NZ, it seems possible to spend $20-30m just in consultation phases before starting any physical works, then $200 seems way too low.

  26. I knew local elections weren’t far away when I see a story about either gondolas or monorail. But this makes as much financial sense (perhaps more) than the government’s underground rail delusion. Both are equally fanciful and won’t happen.

    1. OK – I’m a sceptic then. When something says: “This high-speed electric sky pod system could soon be carrying you to work and back at speeds of up to 500km/h” then my bullshit alert system starts ringing all sorts of bells.

      Then it goes on to say: “The brilliant Belarusian boffins behind it, Unitsky String Technologies, are hoping to build a 130km freight line from Sharjah to Khor Fakkan within the next three years.” And then I think, aaah, Belarus, that should be fine, nothing could go wrong there!

  27. The problem is that this needs to be a consideration for a harbour crossing where there is not already a superior solution (buses ferries) or where the alternative solutions are superior (e.g. lane on the AHB).

    I suppose down Glenfield Rd, through Birkenhead and over to Wynyard could be an option. Birkenhead has a ferry but the argument might be you are picking up a catchment north of this. But it looks like a diversion from the obvious options (lane on AHB) or a solution looking for a problem. Maybe a replacement for Penlink? /s

    I think the best place these guys could be sniffing around is Shelly Bay in Wellington. Once redeveloped, there is talk of a gondola up to the top of the hill to the old prison and lookout. It could ultimately be extended into the city waterfront. With a ferry, gondola, and a road for cyclists and emergency/delivery vehicles as the only access in and out. No private cars.

    1. If you really want to stretch a gondola line in Wellington, why not stretch it across the harbour mouth to the other side and link Seatoun to Pencarrow? Lots of fresh land to develop over there – and no roads – so people could ONLY ever come to Wellington via a gondola?

  28. My mayoral vote goes to whoever annex’s the bridge.
    NZTA’s control of the bridge, and a highway through the heart of our city, a bad decision if even it was one.
    Auckland Transport – with your new transport asset – you could lease all but 1 lane back as a motorway lanes to NZTA. With that 1 lane – you could save us $200M and announce that Auckland is open for active transport.

    On anything not a liberated lane – it will have to compete with a future micromobility lane over the bridge. Can you imagine the price of a gondola ticket if everyone eBikes or eScoots across the bridge. AT is looking at the loss of revenue for PT and parking already, a bridge option would impact both.

  29. “High Capacity?” Yeah, about that… New York has such a tramway, opened in 1976 between Manhattan and Roosevelt Island. It is very, very popular for such a gondola, having carried 26 million passengers in that time. Yes, you read that right: 26 million in 46 years: 565,000 per year. And New York has six times the population of Auckland. Know what else in the States carries about that many passenger a year? The couple kilometer city tramway in Cincinnati with conventional streetcars. And the New York tramway has something that Auckland would not: excellent transit connections at both ends. It also has a top speed of 29 kmh.

    1. Rosevelt island aerial tramway was a temporary installation while they built the subway station, they just kept it.
      It’s parallel to a more convenient subway line so gets little use.

    1. thanks for the links. “Darryl talks about New Zealand” is interesting.
      Imagine however if the BCR of these alternatives are dependent on it being another monopolistic route to get across our harbour. Allowing free micro-mobility on the existing bridge would sink its business case.
      Another hurdle to a footpath across our harbour.

    1. Love to be able to sit in one of these planning meetings and suggest increasingly bizarre solutions until somebody blinks.

      Submarine buses could be a cheap alternative to a tunnel of course.
      And there is always hovercraft that could quickly glide over from Britomart to Devonport/Akoranga bus station

      Or the clean, green, low-emission suggestion of providing Eboats so that cyclists could pedal over (https://www.flying-cat.co.nz/ceclo-nz)

      But surface effect vehicles would be my pick; how fast would it be for cyclists/buses if they could just take the AT Seaglider? No bridge required

      1. Based on the mighty DUKW?

        Think that they largely stopped making them 70 years ago. There is always Sealegs though; Auckland company that could probably stick some legs on a small ferry.

        Depending if you want a bus that goes on water, or a ferry that goes on land

    1. Good idea, but if the trailer could also carry e-scooters and (one day soon) folding e-bikes, this would be event better. Perhaps soon the bikes/scooters could be small enough to just fit in a bus. We can hope, but bike infrastructure, bike ferries, gondolas, and even bike lanes/trailers seems so last decade to me….

    2. This is ridiculous. It’s like expecting car drivers to put their car on the back of a transporter truck, get out, and sit in the passenger seat of the truck just to get across the Harbour Bridge.

      These needlessly complicated solutions do not attract users. That has been well proven with past efforts for bike shuttles over the AHB. Whereas when two lanes were opened to active mode travel in the oil crises of the 70s, there were plenty of pedestrians and cyclists going across the AHB.

      http://bikeauckland.org.nz/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/size.php_.jpg

      I guarantee you that liberating a lane, with proper safety barriers on both sides, would be worth it far more than some needlessly complicated car-brained “bike shuttle”.

      1. Yip, you nailed it. The only effort required is “political” commitment. Local body elections are coming up. Make this an election issue.

      2. That is an amazing picture, and first time I had seen it

        The 1970s oil shortages, really did change things up.

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