The idea of using aerial gondolas to get around a city isn’t new (in fact, it’s rather old), and many cities around the world have been doing so for quite some time. Austin transportation wonks aren’t new to the gondola game, either; in fact, according to a Thursday Austin Monitor story, "self-described creative technologist" Jared Ficklin has been pitching the idea for a while.
What is new, the Monitor’s Caleb Pritchard reported, is that Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority board is taking the idea seriously, with some members "gushing" over the idea at its Wednesday meeting over a proposed tram route between the University of Texas campus to Slaughter Lane in (very far) South Austin.
That’s the first phase of the plan, dubbed The Wire, that Ficklin is advocating. "Wire One," Pritchard explained, would carry passengers over those eight miles through the central city; the route would have 19 stations, with 10-person gondolas departing and arriving frequently for 19 hours of the day.
Ficklin estimates that Wire One could serve 4.87 million passengers per year, or 13,342 per day, and eliminate the No. 10 Capital Metro bus route, Pritchard reported.
To local transportation watchers’ surprise, the mobility authority board’s sudden enthusiasm will likely be met with a proposal from CTRMA Deputy Executive Director Mike Heiligenstein to fund a viability study, according to the Monitor story. Pritchard added that, while Mayor Steve Adler is also on board with looking at the idea, Ficklin isn’t planning on pushing forward aggressively on Wire One only two months before the city’s ambitious transportation bond proposal goes before voters.