21 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: Funicular Subway”

  1. Last week Disney confirmed a three line gondola system with five stations is coming to Walt Disney World. The Disney Skyliner network will connect EPCOT and Hollywood Studios to three resorts, replacing a significant chuck of the current Disney Transit bus service in 2019. The system will be the largest ever built in North America by Doppelmayr (the company that bought VonRoll, manufacturer of the above funicular.)

    1. Gondolas? With all the freeways and parking lots in the way of direct routes between places it’s easy to see how elevated transit makes sense, but… doesn’t a gondola give back the benefit of grade-separation with low speed? In the flats of Orlando shouldn’t simple elevated trains or even monorails be better in every way?

      1. The five initial destinations are all pretty close together so even the longest trip will only be around 10 minutes with no waiting required. There’s no way Disney could build new monorails anywhere near as cheaply.

  2. Courthouse Park to Harborview? First and Union to the Waterfront? No reason it absolutely has to run underground. Might be good alternative to aerial tramway.

    People mover at Oakland Airport.
    1905235bd1fb6f02da3cb0fa508c2bf5–oakland-international-airport people mover

    And, of course, San Francisco’s cable car system. We used to have one. But San Francisco also indicates that for longer routes, and much heavier passenger loads, trolleybus is good replacement.

    Incidentally, has anybody been to Israel lately? My last visit was 1992. As with a lot of the rest of the world, if you’re a transit driver, you’ve got an “in” with the system if you make contact ahead of time. Don’t know if it’s still the case, but Israeli drivers delivered higher body count than terrorists.

    Highway bus following distance was six inches at 70 miles and hour, furiously blowing your horn and flashing your brights ’til the other driver peeled off like a jet in a dog-fight. Not comforting that our driver had “Born to Be Wild” at top volume on the radio.

    You’ll see things and meet people no consultant or reporter ever will. I remember Tel Aviv as the anti-Seattle. Haifa, a couple of hour north, I think whole country is same size as Washington State. If our State was hotter than both California and Hell, and cranked up like New York on meth.

    Politically, whatever your disagreements with any Israeli government, average Israeli will go you one better, at the top of their lungs. Whoever’s in office. Bur history points out my “take” on relations between Israelis and Palestinians- probably equally the most advanced people in the Middle East.

    Three or four hundred years ago, life in Southern Sweden and the west of Norway was permanent gang warfare between the King of Denmark and the Archbishop of Gothenburg, also a Dane. The King massacred dozens of Stockholm’s leading citizens.

    In 1700’s, King Karl the Twelfth was a savage military aggressor. Holland had an empire all the way to Indonesia. Now? Right wing here rags on all these very advanced countries for being shamefully neutral. Even though they all have conscription.

    When the oil’s gone or wind and solar are too cheap to meter, and the self-named “Great Powers” have other fish to fry- like effects fossil fuel use frying their own countries- east end of the Mediterranean will be same as the Nordic lands. Little known fact that both peoples have large numbers of redheads and blondes.


    1. just have to say that the Oakland Airport cable car system is just about the slowest and dumbest mass transit project I’ve seen the last decade–even a streetcar would have been more efficient

      1. And an expensive one to ride as well, $6 on top of whatever your BART fare was. The shuttle bus it replaced was free$3.

      2. Agreed –pretty slow. The bus it replaced was $5 by my recollection. At least it is faster than the bus.

  3. Though not six stations, Istanbul also has funicular subway lines. Haifa isn’t the only one but the six-station version appears unique. There are also several others that are part surface and part aerial. There are even several small private versions of this concept in Medina but we call them diagonal elevators or inclines.

    I’ve long advocated for strategically installing these to assist in climbing sleep hills, like between Downtown to First Hill. They can have some levels be wheelchair accessible or bicycle accessible with level boarding — and the level floors are much easier for everyone who has to stand.

    1. I was going to say something similar about the funiculars in Istanbul. I’ve been on two of them.

    2. I saw a diagonal elevator in a subway station in berlin, a very interesting machine indeed.

      1. I rode one in NYC at its new Hudson Yards subway station. Saves them from having to bore a separate shaft.

      2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wDvtrWtP-1c


        And many, many more…

        Don’t know if it’s true but have read that the Tower was intended to be taken apart after exposition it was for.

        Also that a famous French author was always in the cafe inside it. Someone told him he was obviously very fond of the structure. Answer? “Only place in Paris I don’t have to look at the damn thing!”

        Pretty much like all but a few new buildings in Seattle. Luckily you can’t see them from The Station, at Beacon Hill LINK Station. Come to think if it, most are inside buildings, so view not a problem.

        Starbucks on fortieth floor of Columbia Center solved the problem by actually inside the building. Like the author’s cafe in Paris. Only thing they haven’t solved is being Starbucks.

        Read somewhere else that espresso machines were invented in France for some exhibition. Maybe same one. Man is my research getting lazy! Idea was speedy service.

        But mainly: Come on! 128 years after 1889, is The Space Needle really the best we can do?


    1. An aerial funicular on Jefferson between 3rd and Harborview Park would be so useful! One under Seneca could also be useful but I’m not sure how I-5 would disrupt a line’s geometry. A third possible one that aerial over I-5 and west into South Lake Union with it going underground to end at the north end of Capitol Hill Station. It could also work for Queen Anne Hill and maybe in parts of West Seattle.

  4. For those not fully clear on the design, the two vehicles act as counter-balances to each other. The energy to power a car uphill comes from dropping the other car downhill because they are tied together by a strong cable spun on a large wheel at the top. It’s very “green”!

    My apologies to many of you who already know this.

  5. Has anyone seen an announcement from WSDOT or Amtrak about the 2 added roundtrips between Seattle and Portland that are supposed to start this fall? I checked the Amtrak reservation system and it’s still showing 4 Cascades trips and 1 Starlight trip through December.

    1. Probably wont happen until after the switch over to the Lakeview line, which WSDOT claims will happen by the end of the year.

    2. It appears that the Tacoma Trestle project is the final piece that needs to be in place for the move to happen. It is frustrating that we aren’t getting a more specific time frame for completion, or even a preview of the updated schedules. I was hoping to plan a trip up to Seattle to catch one of the last trains on the Point Defiance route. Not sure when that will happen this year…

  6. https://www.flickr.com/photos/43315334@N07/35948155572/in/dateposted-public/


    The Queen Anne Counterbalance used this weighted car to counterbalance the weight of the car. Note how long they kept it just in case. If they’d kept it a little longer, trolleywire replacement period wouldn’t have torn up a whole fleet of good GMC buses.

    Great coffee-table book refers to the Counterbalance as an example of the “slightly demented mechanism” often associated with streetcars.


    Remember, it was printed long before Breda invented a compressed-air-operated mode change mechanism. Meaning prone to freezing. Could have just had the electric motor power the bus under wire, with switch to diesel simply changing propulsion source. Like Neoplan offered.

    Instead, two separate differentials, geared to a drive-shaft each, which the compressed air shoved into one differential, and simultaneously pulled out of the other. Not only did contraption weigh as much as a third section would have, but ’til we developed an electric “fix”, supervisor had to poke one shaft or the other with a broom handle.

    “Demented Mechanism” can also refer to a procurement system that seems to demand taking low bid, regardless of how much it’ll cost in repairs and lost operating time and passenger goodwill. “Slightly” part won’t pass a polygraph.

    But on the positive historic side, the wonderful San Francisco cable cars exist because a Scottish mining engineer thought it cruel beyond an insanity defense to keep leaving dead horses all the way to Pacific Heights. Definitely not referring to any similarity in intelligence or behavior of coal as opposed to passengers.

    And regarding reduced fare, taking for granted that coal would always have its fare subsidized, and never live beyond its average age of six hundred trillion years.


  7. Just finished listening to this week’s podcast. I want to see if I understand this right: the House bill to rejigger the MVET was going to pass at least 97-2, but the majority desired so much for it to be unanimous that Jessyn Farrell and Joe Fitzgibbon were able to leverage their two votes to put Sound Transit parking garages first on the chopping block in the event of a revenue shortfall. Is that right?

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