Share, , , Google Plus, Reddit, Pinterest, StumbleUpon

Print

Posted in:

Proposed Buffalo Skyline Gondola Route – and a Final Push

I admit it. I’m completely hooked on the Buffalo gondola idea. There’s something about the image of gondolas transporting visitors from the Inner Harbor to the Outer Harbor that I just can’t get out of my mind. And I’m not alone. I can’t tell you the number of young Buffalonians who have come up to me to inquire whether the gondola concept is possible. The unique transportation system has lit a spark in the eyes of people who never dreamed that something like this would be possible.

There is something about the “Skyline” that has captured the imaginations of Buffalo’s youth (at least those who are aware of the idea). It’s almost as if something like this is too good to be true. That’s why I continue to beat the drum on Buffalo Rising. As I’ve said before, this project has the ability to change the face of this city. I am hoping that the upcoming presentation will bring out some of the supporters who are behind the idea (even on a Monday). In the meantime, I’ve been busy contacting politicians who I think might support such a project… if you are a fan of the idea, please pass along the presentation information at the bottom of this post, to anyone who you think might get behind this initiative.

Skyline-Gondola-Buffalo-NY-GO-2

The politicians that I have spoken to have expressed an interest in the upcoming Skyline presentation. That’s encouraging, but there is no telling if they will show up until the big day.

Leading up to the presentation, Seth C Triggs, Vice President Citizens for Regional Transit, has been preparing documents, maps and loose graphics for the public event, which is scheduled to take place this coming Monday (see below).

Skyline-Gondola-Buffalo-NY-GO-5

“This is much more of a doable project because so many of the components are standardized and readily available, making the construction time very short indeed,” says Triggs. “Of course as customization increases, so does the cost. Fortunately we can achieve a great result with relatively little work.”
This is a project that all of Buffalo can get behind. It’s fun. It’s progressive. It’s practical. And it’s something that can “get done” in a relatively short time frame, without an insurmountable price tag attached to the project.
Skyline-Gondola-Buffalo-NY-GO-1

Introducing the Buffalo Skyline

Monday, May 18, 2015
Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center
341 Delaware Avenue, Buffalo, NY 14202
1:30 pm

— FREE EVENT —

Presenters:
Citizens for Regional Transit
21st Century Park
Creative Urban Projects

 

 

Written by queenseyes

queenseyes

Newell Nussbaumer is 'queenseyes' - Eyes of the Queen City and Founder of Buffalo Rising. Co-founder Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts. Co-founder Powder Keg Festival that built the world's largest ice maze (Guinness Book of World Records). Instigator behind Emerald Beach at the Erie Basin Marina. Co-created Flurrious! winter festival. Co-creator of Rusty Chain Beer. Instigator behind Saturday Artisan Market (SAM) at Canalside. Founder of The Peddler retro and vintage market. Instigator behind Liberty Hound @ Canalside. Throws The Witches Ball at The Hotel @ The Lafayette, and the Madd Tiki Winter Luau. Other projects: Navigetter.

Contact Newell Nussbaumer | Newell@BuffaloRising.com

View All Articles by queenseyes
Hide Comments
Show Comments
  • statastic

    stop

  • nyc lines

    there has to be something pretty incredible on the other end to make this worthwhile.  The outer harbor is nice but..
    i would rather see money spent on a multi-purpose bridge that could help rid us of the skyway.

  • SkywayCheerios

    What’d I say? Monorail. Say it again? Monorail. That’s right. Monorail!
    Monorail! Monorail! MONORAIL!

  • elmdog

    I know cost is a factor and its a silly project but I love it…This can take you right to the outer harbor, tift farm, the new restaurant, parks, biking, pinics, etc…I think the view of the lake alone makes this a perfect tourist attraction and on the other side you can see the city, industrial past and present, the hills in the southtowns, etc….

  • costrander08

    elmdog I like that it serves two purposes in a way. 1: It offers an alternative to getting people out to the Outer Harbor. 2: It would have something of a London Eye effect as a tourist draw. Obviously it wouldn’t be the most effective way to get from A to B, but it certainly would offer some dramatic views of WNY, the lake and Ontario. 

    That being said, I hope this isn’t something that draws funding or attention from the Harbor Bridge because that really should be the primary focus IMO

  • nyc lines perhaps imploding the marine drive apartments to make way for the bridge while we are at it.  Build a highrise with a mix of market and subsidized housing like marine drive where the planned Carlo building footprint is…
    I figured since we are going all sim city with the gondola, bridge, skyway removal I’d fill in the blanks… Sorry.

  • Not that I don’t agree with queenseyes on things, but this I definitely agree with! We need this gondola!

  • nyc lines

    Caug124 
    Hey i would recommend playing sim city..

  • Ivan putski jr

    Bring back the Comet roller coaster from Lake George and assemble it near the lake by Tift Nature preserve

  • runner68

    Fine. You can build this silly contraption but the only way I’ll agree to it is if you build a bridge at the foot of Main so I don’t have to just look at the other side of the harbor. I want to walk there. I don’t want to ride in a Gondola. I want to walk or get on my bike and ride across the Buffalo River and the City Shil Canal. I want to take my girlfriend the the Lighthouse that she loves so much. On foot. A gondola won’t facilitate the removal of the skyway. Or walking, or riding a bike. A harbor bridge would. One or the other is the wrong way. Either nothing or both.

  • Honestly why can’t both be done?
    IMO, Main St should go all the way to Fuhrman by way of lift bridges and then meet at a roundabout.

  • Michael DiPasquale

    I’d focus on the long list of things the city needs to do on the ground, from returning cars to Main Street, to bike paths, to extending Metro Rail before I’d spend any time and energy on this fantasy.

  • The issue with a Monorail is that it would be too short to justify the cost.

  • Looks more like NYC than Buffalo. On weekends I would see tumbleweed a going across Delaware.

  • LouisTully

    Buffaboy You get it, right?  Simpsons?

  • BuffaloGals

    runner68 If this gondola route were final – what help does this provide? There has to be access across the river to get from Canalside to the lighthouse. Maybe run a small shuttle a couple times an hour from Small Boat Harbor to the lighthouse to move people up and down the Outer Harbor.

  • BuffaloGals

    Ivan putski jr I wrote my elected officials with this idea and got no response (admittedly its a pipe dream)…I believe the Comet was rebuilt this year, so seems unlikely.

  • BuffaloGals

    SkywayCheerios Is there a chance the track could bend?

  • I wish I did :/…

  • GinghamQuaker

    Michael DiPasquale can we add a reduction in crime and improvement in schools? Those don’t even require much money, just structural changes.

  • Jumpingbuffalo

    It’s not that I’m against this project.  In fact, it would be pretty cool.  I just don’t think it’s realistic.
    Talk about a hard sell.  If you can’t get the community to agree on expanding the light rail (which is an essential component to the revitalization of this city and something we will all be clamoring for when gas prices spike again), you’ll have even fewer people wanting the Gondola to transport from the inner harbor to the outer harbor.
    You can bet the anti-government media in the area (WBEN, Investigative Post, WGRZ) will have wall-to-wall coverage of how this is a waste of government money.

  • flexme

    An idea that is DOA. No operator, no capital funds to build, no funds to operate, adds more skyway like barrier columns. Oh yea a.d last but not least there is zero need, zero demand and simply no viable market for it

  • Whirlpool138

    Ivan putski jr
    How expensive would buying and setting up an older roller coaster be? It doesn’t seem like something like that would really cost that much. Maybe even put it out on the Outer Harbor. I always thought Buffalo should try to do it’s own Coney Island kind of area to attract more people visiting the Falls.

  • SkywayCheerios

    BuffaloGals SkywayCheerios Not on your life, my Hindu friend!

  • Matt Marcinkiewicz

    Michael DiPasquale I’m surprised you’re in favor of cars returning to Main Street.

  • DeanerPPX

    I’m not sure that I’d put the south terminal /quite/ so far south. The only thing more frustrating than seeing the other side of the harbor just a quarter mile away and inaccessible… is making it accessible but finding out the lighthouse is a full mile in the other direction once you’ve gotten to the outer harbor side…
    Obviously, this is a chicken-and-egg situation, where the destinations haven’t quite fleshed out yet enough to warrant a means to get to them. But once that cheap and easy connection is made, the outer harbor is going to dramatically increase its development potential. When people finally have easy access to the outer harbor, things will be popping up all along the waterfront between Times Beach and Tifft Park.
    I’d hate to discourage any proposal that builds upon where mine left off, but waterfront access is not a Point-A-to-Point-B situation. Gondolas can easily accommodate multiple station-stops and can even be expanded or extended over time. Simply crossing the river is the critical link, so we should start there, while keeping a keen eye on points further south as we do so.

  • Matt Marcinkiewicz

    flexme “I can’t tell you the number of young Buffalonians who have come up to me to inquire whether the gondola concept is possible.”
    The demand is great, can’t you see!?
    (it’s a shame he can’t tell us the number, because I’d actually like to know exactly how many “young Buffalonians” have approached Newell asking about a potential gondola.  I was shall we say skeptical of that claim upon reading it…I didn’t think anyone outside this site was even talking about it at all)

  • Matt Marcinkiewicz

    iloveagoodnap Ivan putski jr the Comet was originally at Crystal Beach in Ontario, back when Crystal Beach was a draw and people like my mom spent their entire summers there.  Then that amusement park shut down (before I was born in 1986, at least–I’m sure someone here knows the exact year, or if not, Google would), and eventually the Comet surfaced in your territory.  If I’m not mistaken it was the “Silver Comet” there, no?  When I was a kid we’d go to Lake George every few years, so I’d see that Great Escape park from the, eh, I want to say I-87

  • Matt Marcinkiewicz

    iloveagoodnap Ivan putski jr Wiki lists the Crystal Beach amusement park’s lifespan as 1888-1989, so it shut down a little later than I thought.  Still early enough for me to have no memory of, though, since I would go to the beach itself with my family as a young child
    Alright, no further googlings for the time being, as Barcelona-Bayern Munich is occurring as I speak

  • DeanerPPX

    Michael DiPasquale There are a lot of things that need to be done, but cost-wise this is a drop in the bucket. I believe cars on Main has topped $100M and estimates for the Amherst extension are conservatively in the $1B range. This gondola is a project that could be successfully implemented for as little as $20M (a quarter of the cost to resurface Furhmann Blvd a few years ago) yet it has the potential to spur dramatic development along the outer harbor which would help to fund those other projects.
    As for the visuals, those supports do not need to be concrete and can be designed as artistically as in other cities. Certainly, it is less of a visual barrier than the Skyway and even less than a street-level-bridge if that should ever be built (which, btw, I believe the estimated price tag for that was in the $100-150M range).

  • Matt Marcinkiewicz

    iloveagoodnap Ivan putski jr one more thing, though:
    “Following the park’s closing in 1989, the Comet was moved to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Great_Escape_%26_Splashwater_Kingdom in http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Queensbury,_New_York where it still operates today. A roller coaster known as the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silver_Comet_(roller_coaster) has been built at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin%27s_Fantasy_Island in nearby http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grand_Island,_New_York with a loading platform and signage similar to the original Crystal Beach Comet.”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crystal_Beach,_Ontario#Crystal_Beach_Amusement_Park_.281888-1989.29

  • LouisTully

    Buffaboy See DeanerPPX’ avatar above.  It’s a Simpsons episode.

  • I know it’s not an either/or proposition, but I would really like the Michigan Street bridge back.

  • DeanerPPX

    runner68 True that the street-level bridge would accommodate more interests (namely cars) than a gondola (which DOES accommodate bicycles). But since the bridge was proposed several years ago, I haven’t heard or seen ANY development on the idea. There certainly isn’t much discussion of where the money would come from to pay for that bridge (there were several proposals that I recall being in the $100-150M range).
    A gondola might not be the ultimate, end-all, perfect solution. But it IS economically feasible right now at as little as $20M. Even if we balloon that cost out to $50M for the super-deluxe gondola, it is still vastly easier to get funding for a small project than a larger one (the money doesn’t even need to come from public sources… London’s “failure” of a gondola was paid off with corporate sponsorship and rider fees).
    We also need to consider the “long game”. Right now, there is a minimum of things to see or do on the outer harbor. Nobody is willing to drop hundreds of millions of dollars to build a bridge just so people can see a lighthouse and some wind sculptures. A gondola would increase foot traffic enough to spark further development on the outer harbor… maybe a hot dog stand to start, then a restaurant, a marina, an attraction, some shops, a hotel, some condos and businesses… THEN it will make sense to build a bridge. At that point, the gondola will have either served its purpose, or it will continue on as an attraction in itself that helped to get the ball rolling.

  • DeanerPPX

    nyc lines Removing the Skyway is a billion-dollar-plus proposal (if you intend to replace it with anything that can handle that amount of traffic). Most of us hate it, but let’s face the fact that the DOT has decided for us and we are stuck with that Skyway for at least the next 50 years.
    A multi-purpose bridge would be great too, but as you said, there needs to be something on the other end to justify spending the large sum to build even a small pedestrian bridge.
    The gondola would be a stepping stone of sorts. Within a reasonable budget, it would provide access that does spur on development. I strongly suspect that once people are able to get to the outer harbor via gondola, it will be only a matter of time before that ‘something pretty incredible’ happens. THEN we will have the ammunition needed to convince the DOT to build a bridge or tear down the Skyway. If we do nothing, well then nothing is going to happen and half a century later we will still be complaining about why nothing has been done…

  • buffalorr

    DeanerPPX–“Most of us hate it”–with regard to the Skwyay. Probably true among the readership of BR. Maybe not so much with the rest of WNY.

  • nyc lines

    DeanerPPX 
    it’s not an interstate…2 miles before the outer harbor it’s a surface street with stop lights.  A billion dollars is kind of ridiculous to suggest.  and it needs 50 – 75 million in repairs over the next decade.

  • LouisTully Buffaboy gotcha, I’ll check it out!

  • greenca

    DeanerPPX  “Nobody is willing to drop hundreds of millions of dollars to build a bridge just so people can see a lighthouse and some wind sculptures.”  
    So why are people advocating dropping tens of millions on a gondola so people can see a lighthouse and some wind sculptures?  
    The amount of revenue needed to break even would likely be much greater than what potential riders would be willing to pay. How much annual operating subsidy would this gondola need?  Who would pay for it?

  • greenca

    cphuntington97
    The Michigan street bridge would solve a lot of access issues to the Outer Harbor.

  • Michael DiPasquale

    Matt Marcinkiewicz Michael DiPasquale
    I don’t believe pedestrian malls work in cities like Buffalo that don’t have the density to make them active and vibrant. They are more successful in dense European cities. Most pedestrian malls in U.S. have been torn up.

  • saltecks

    DeanerPPX Michael DiPasquale Where did you get 20mil. The one just  built in Portland cost  60
    million,  is 3/4 of  a mile long. That translates into 80million  per
    mile . The cost of extending light rail on an existing rail right of way ,on level ground, with  no tunnels is 20 million per mile.

  • Livefyre33

    I hope it will happen. It would be good for the city!

  • Carrotflower

    Did Ricchiazzi ghostwrite this article? The gondola is a bad idea, there’s no money for it, no demand for it, it’s never going to happen, and thank God it’s never going to happen. Period. End of story. Next article please.
    “I admit it. I’m completely hooked on the Buffalo gondola idea”. News flash: your readers hate it.

  • DeanerPPX

    saltecks DeanerPPX Michael DiPasquale There are a lot of factors on price, and Buffalo could vary between $20-50M depending on what kinds of options are chosen. The Portland gondola encountered several issues that quadrupled the price between planning and construction (since the line passes over several private properties in a historic district, huge lawsuits were paid up to homeowners over privacy concerns, and many properties were forced to be purchased at market value). Portland’s gondola is specialty-built using non-standard designs. It carries up 40 people at a time (complete with cup holders) and is definitely a Rolls-Royce style design, made of reflective steel to appear as “bubbles floating through the sky”.
    The most expensive gondola so far constructed was London’s at $100M for 2/3 of a mile (which has been paid off through corporate sponsorship and rider fees, even though only four (4) people have purchased a commuter card to ride it on a regular basis). Systems currently being planned and built in Venezuela have been priced between $12-18M per mile. I think it’s fair to expect that Buffalo would opt toward the lower-to middle price range.
    Similarly, light rail costs can dramatically differ depending on the route. A commuter line on existing ROWs may be relatively inexpensive. Negotiating rail rights on busy freight lines increases that price. Tunneling through tricky geology under built-out residential neighborhoods to get to Amherst is by far one of the most expensive scenarios out there. The idea hasn’t even been given a serious second thought since the 1970s because it was decided to be so impractical.
    We will never get a MetroRail to Amherst at $20M/Mi. Even the extension to the Cobblestone District was priced at $80M! A cheap carnival-style gondola could be built for $12M, or we could plate it in Platinum and call it the Silver Bullet. The point is that there are many options and price ranges available. This is the time when we look into those options.

  • DeanerPPX

    greenca DeanerPPX There is an asinine drug commercial out there that needs to point out that “six is greater than one”. I feel bad needing to point out that tens are less than hundreds.
    At some point, the Outer Harbor may develop to the point that it is a no-brainer to drop the big bucks on a bridge. But we need to build up to that, and a smaller, cheaper gondola is within financial reach. Whether it is through private investment, public funding, corporate sponsorship, rider fees or a combination… that is an extremely do-able project right now. But getting the state to commit much larger sums is an unsure process that could take decades if it ever happens at all.
    Think of it this way… were the canals at CanalSide worth the money spent on them? Not in and of themselves. They will never pay for themselves by charging admission to go ice skating. But as an attraction, they have become an anchor to everything that has and will happen at CanalSide now and in the future. They were an investment on something much bigger and better.
    A gondola connection to the outer harbor could be that kind of anchor to bigger and better things south of the Buffalo River.

  • DeanerPPX

    buffalorr I actually like the Skyway. Kinda figures that when I try to speak to the crowd, I only get heard by the one person who agrees with me on that, lol.

  • DeanerPPX

    nyc lines DeanerPPX We just spent $80M to resurface the approaches, and yes, the Skyway will require lots of additional funds to keep it operating ($42M estimated just for the next 20 years). There is zero indication that the DOT intends to do anything other than continue maintaining it for the foreseeable future. Any new bridge will not be automatically immune from such maintenance costs.
    I think a Billion to replace the Skyway is a conservative price. I’m including the cost of demolishing AND replacing. What other option would there be to carry that volume of traffic? A tunnel? A signature bridge? A new high-volume thoroughfare further inland? Upgrading the Ohio, Ganson and Michigan bridges to carry that volume of traffic? The research and planning costs alone would cost millions.

  • greenca

    Will someone please suggest who might actually build and operate this gondola? The NFTA, which doesn’t even have the funding to repair long-broken elevators in the subway stations and is in a perpetual budget crisis? The city, which also doesn’t have the financial capacity to undertake the capital financing needed to construct this (unless it uses 100% of its annual capital bonds on this project alone), let alone absorb the operating subsidies?
    Deaner, queenseyes, other pro-gondola people: please provide some speculation on how this might happen. So far it’s all been pie-in-the-sky ideas of how cool it would be to have a gondola. That means squat if you can’t provide suggestions as to how it can actually happen. Money doesn’t fall from the sky.

  • saltecks

    DeanerPPX saltecks Michael DiPasquale “extension to the Cobblestone District was priced at $80M!”. Where
    did you get that figure.?  Trains already run  to the Cobblestone. The
    problem is 
    Passengers are not allowed  to ride to the end of the line. It will
    take minimal mods to the switch tracks to separate the passengers
    from the service tracks.once the trains enter the DLW terminal.
     I did specify “The cost of extending light rail on an existing rail right of way, …on level ground, with  no tunnels is 20 million
    per mile”.

     Under this caveat possible extensions include Larkinville,  South Buffalo, and west from the LaSalle station  to upper Elmwood to name  a few available low cost rows.

    “A cheap carnival-style gondola could be built for $12M” .
    Just what Buffalo needs after they complete the 320million dollar build out of canalside. A cheap carnival ride sailing over  what is meant to simulate an historical experience.
    Using 
    Venezuela as a cost per  mile indicator for what it will cost to build a  gondola system in the States is highly dubious.  What cost 12 -18 million US dollars per mile to
    build in Caracas  will be substantially more expensive to build in the States.

  • Matt Marcinkiewicz

    Michael DiPasquale Matt Marcinkiewicz Agree that it depends on density, and that it obviously didn’t have a positive effect here in Buffalo.  I actually thought you might just be opposed to restoring car traffic as a matter of principle.  I’ve personally been to two “downtown” (downtown being a relative term here) pedestrian malls that seem to work well: Ithaca NY and Burlington VT.  But those two places are each the epitome of a college town.  And actually Ithaca’s seems slightly less vibrant now than it was in the ’90s, although my childhood memories may be a bit off.

  • hockeyhips83

    “This is much more of a doable project because so many of the components are standardized and readily available, making the construction time very short indeed,” says Triggs
    Woah, wait, light rail systems aren’t standardized? Sure invest in another mode of transportation that travels in a straight line from point A to point B as opposed to new rail routes out to say Niagara Falls, North campus, the airport/galleria, South buffalo, even chest nut Ridge. At least in some route locations there are existence unused paths of rail.
    Pffft young buffalonian, probably was two 16yo working on a feasibility project.

  • hockeyhips83

    Only location I see a pedestrian mall working is between Hudson & elmwood on Delaware & switching elmwood to Delaware one way East & main to Delaware one way West.

  • nyc lines

    DeanerPPX 
    80 million was not spent on a “resurfacing project”.  it was a total reconstruction with new bridges.  that can remain in place regardless of what happens to the skyway. which would not cost a billion to rebuild unless  you are convinced it needs a tunnel and full interchange with the 190.. which it doesn’t.  and the skyway costs the city in other ways.  2 waterfront developers from out of town basically said to call them back when the skyway is not there in regards to building out the aud and historic blocks.  so the last thing we need is ANOTHER aerial obstruction.  The city needs a bridge.

  • Northbuff

    Buffaboy The rink just opened in this pic, we’ll see if the numbers are as large next year or the year after.

  • nyc lines

    Northbuff Buffaboy 
    numbers will definitly drop unless ECHDC can figure out how to attract developers to the adjacent parcels that will bring a more diverse range of activities and uses.  that is definitely the honeymoon picture.

  • Michael DiPasquale

    Matt Marcinkiewicz Michael DiPasquale
    Yes, the Ithaca pedestrian mall seems somewhat underused. The one in Denver seems to work, but I haven’t been there in a while. I’m beginning to think the “complete streets” approach, mixing transit, bikes and cars, and pedestrians is the way to go.
    BTW…..many people in Buffalo predicted the Main Street mall’s problems before it was built….but their concerns fell on deaf ears.

  • Michael DiPasquale

    Use the money to help take down the Skyway.

  • DeanerPPX

    Michael DiPasquale And use what money to replace it with what?

  • DeanerPPX

    hockeyhips83 If light rail was THAT standardized, we’d have actually found a use for all those rail cars we bought from Cleveland that ended up as a coral reef. There are lots of unused rail spurs around WNY, but they are exactly that… spurs off of extremely congested rail lines that are problematic to introducing commuter rail. Even the Tonawanda spur now requires complete rebuilding of rail lines, and any connection to the existing MetroRail has already been built over (that feasibility study was dismissed decades ago)
    We could easily build a rail line from the airport to the Galleria, but everything between that and downtown is an extremely expensive proposition. North campus isn’t accessible by any means other than tunneling through difficult geology. South Buffalo could be worked out if ROWs were expanded, but it won’t be cheap and has little support.

  • DeanerPPX

    greenca cphuntington97 It would also force General Mills to shut down operations. win-lose.

  • DeanerPPX

    iloveagoodnap Did people invest in the restoration of the Darwin Martin house, knowing that there were homes decaying on the east side? Did we invest money in digging out new canals to attract tenants at CanalSide while shops were closing on the west side? You are correct that development and reconstruction requires an investment of money, but it would be silly to suggest that government should pay the entire bill to rebuild entire communities.
    By investing in key community projects (MLK fountain, Niagara St renewal, Car on Main, re-watering the Erie Canal), the city is enhancing neighborhoods in an effort to entice further development and renewal. Communities and businesses will not otherwise invest in a neighborhood that is considered trashed and neglected.
    Improving access to the outer harbor is not a solution in itself. It is an enhancement that attracts development in an area that has been not only neglected but completely abandoned for decades. When projects like that begin to reap their benefits, THEN you will see the growth and results than cannot be bought on a dollar-for-dollar basis.

  • DeanerPPX

    saltecks DeanerPPX Michael DiPasquale Seriously? did you even read any of the articles about extending MetroRail through the DLW terminal? /Thinking/ something should be simple does not make it so, nor does it reduce the cost of making it so. Anyone who can achieve that with ‘minimal mods’ truly deserves to be promoted to the city’s chief engineer. Simply running the track through the existing terminal has never been an option… building a new track along Seneca is the low-cost option to the original plan of building an elevated track over the whole complex.
    Similarly, looking at a map and seeing a train track does not make it an “available low cost ROW”. Trains use those tracks. In many locations, there are more trains than there are tracks. We are nearly a century past the point where it was economically feasible to trade those commercial lifelines for commuter purposes. I don’t even want to think of the economic repercussions of losing those ROWs and the commerce that would be sacrificed just so Mary Hairnet could park her car in Lancaster and get to work downtown for a job that no longer exists.
    As for the $320M spent on CanalSide… what did it get us? A skating rink. We have yet to see any actual payback on that investment (though it is surely, we hope, coming soon). The canal re-watering was an investment that will never earn back its cost by itself, though it has certainly sparked more than enough development to justify its cost. A gondola would be a similar investment in the Outer Harbor, and one that has the potential to pay back its own cost through usage PLUS the benefits of development that it would spark.
    As for historical accuracy, cable transportation systems were actually used to haul cargo. I’m not quite so sure about four-foot-deep canals and childrens museums and an Armani Exchange being built upon the ruins of former saloons and whorehouses.
    I will admit that the South American model of cable transport is not perfectly suited for US economics. Those systems are being built because they are desperately needed and residents are actively asking for them. In the USA, the Portland gondola was planned as a $15M simple system that got ballooned into $60M super-deluxe because people there wanted something special and unique that would blend in but not be seen or noticed and be extremely pretty to look at if you did see it. Bam. quadruple the price.

  • DeanerPPX

    greenca Multiple options here! Yes, public funding and NTFA operation are the preferred outcome. (I would like to use my NTFA card for bus, rail and gondola, but I’m sure plenty of people would be willing to pay for the gondola ride separately).
    But private investment is an entirely viable option. This is not the sort of massive investment required for, say, building a strip mall or renovating an old building into a hotel. 

    Corporate sponsorship is another valuable asset. London’s cableway was massively offset by advertising rights paid for by Emerites Air Lines. As tacky as it might sound, each gondola crossing the river is a miniature billboard that is sure to be noticed for the corporate logo it carries.
    In any sense, this is not a plunk-down-your-money-and-there-you-have-it thing. As long as there are riders (for transportation or for amusement), there is an income from ridership to offset operating costs and construction. The novelty alone would be of interest to companies like those who transport ferris wheels from city to city (I live in Atlanta, which has adopted one of those traveling ferris wheels as a beloved new part of its skyline).
    Let me put it this way: CanalSide was a pie in the sky (that fell flat in our face several times). Restoring the Richardson complex and the Martin complex were pies in the sky. Everything involves a little vision and a little follow-through. I’m not saying this is a sure-shot, but it’s a better gamble than anything else we have on the table right now.

  • DeanerPPX

    nyc lines DeanerPPX You need to call the mayor with information like that!!

  • runner68

    DeanerPPX hockeyhips83 light rail is standardized. Most of your observations are correct however the rail cars you mention for the original Tonawanda line weren’t technically light rail vehicles. They were 1940s and 50s PCC streetcars from Cleveland. See, light rail is so incredibly versatile that it can be a streetcar, a subway, at grade, elevated, and use different types of vehicles, mainly being standard light rail vehicles such as our Tokyu cars, Kawasaki built cars, etc. However, because of the standard track gauge and the overhead catenary, light rail can also facilitate the use or reuse of vintage streetcars, such as the PCC or even the Peter Witt Trolley. 
    The PCC’s we bought from Cleveland were actually to tall to fit in the subway section and too wide to fit up against the station platforms. Whatever bozo at the NFTA who decided not to measure is the person who is at fault here. Simply, those PCC’s were not made to our size specs, so we truly could not use them. Any other car built would be built to our specifications, which is the norm when any transit agency buys LRVs. 
    Congested rail lines are also a problem as you mention, however there are ways around this (see the way Cleveland has theirs).
    Is it expensive? Sure. But in my opinion, it is a much greater investment that will have a much bigger impact versus the gondola idea.

  • runner68

    DeanerPPX greenca They were pies in the sky but they had potential. I don’t see this gondola project spurring any sort of economic impact. I simply think it is a huge waste of money that has the potential to suck money away from expanded light rail as well as a harbor bridge. Lets stick with the modes we have. To add another is foolish. We don’t need a lot of modes that go no where. We need a few modes that go somewhere. 
    I just don’t see the success of it. I’m sorry.

  • nyc lines

    DeanerPPX nyc lines 
    not sure why you think i would make that up.  have you looked at the developable parcels at canalside, in particular the historic blocks?  it’s difficult to build on multiple trapezoids abutting an elevated road and create a cohesive project.  not real conducive to new buildings in a difficult market unless we are just talking about one and two story restaurants/ retail and they don’t require any structured/ integrated parking.

  • RMGreenfield

    It’s a tourist attraction, just like the Portland Aerial Tram. And it sounds like a great idea!

  • DeanerPPX

    runner68 DeanerPPX hockeyhips83 Points taken and agreed with, and yes, rail can be extremely versatile if you have the cars that fit and the railways that fit, and have the ROWs that go where you need them and they are free enough to allow constant use. I am grateful that Buffalo has even considered some mixture of the use of old and new (I live in Atlanta which just spent an ungodly sum on a high-tech streetcar which has encountered unending problems and can’t attract any significant ridership even though it is free, lol)
    I would **LOVE** to revive the belt line or build a light rail through Larkin and the Central Terminal out to the airport!! It’s not impossible… the CTRTC has done some interesting evaluations. But it is not as easy task as one would think by looking at a map.
    I would stand by my reasoning that mass transit along existing rail corridors would be cheaper, less obtrusive, more reliable, and ultimately more practical via aerial transit than rail transport. But I won’t argue against you, because I believe that those routes are too important to ignore any say in the matter.
    For the outer harbor, however, rail transit would be a massive and impractical investment. There isn’t enough street connections, much less rail connections, to make rail an option. The build-out would be significant and even disruptive.
    Similarly, the sought destination of UB North is simply not a rail-accessible option. There was a reason why we stopped the MetroRail where we did and that is because it’s just unbearably impractical and expensive to tunnel those last five miles. We all wish it wasn’t so. But it is so.

  • DeanerPPX

    iloveagoodnap DeanerPPX At some point, I need to acknowledge that there are people who think we are better off painting the convention center purple, just because it is cheaper than doing anything meaningful. It won’t get anything done, and I’m not going to ask who plans to pay for the paint. But it will make a few people happy enough to not get in the way while the rest of the city goes on with the 21st century.

  • Carrotflower

    DeanerPPX greenca cphuntington97 General Mills would not be forced to shut down if the Michigan Street bridge were rebuilt. They threatened to pack up and move out of town if the Common Council didn’t close off public access to lower Michigan Avenue and scuttle plans for a bridge. 
    As of 2012, 400 people work at the General Mills plant. That’s not a blow we couldn’t absorb, especially if increased development at the Outer Harbor due to better access would result in more jobs. Why the Council chose to let General Mills push them around is beyond me. They are expendable.

  • Carrotflower

    Matt Marcinkiewicz flexme Ten bucks says the “young Buffalonians” he polled were elementary school kids just back from a trip to Disney World. “WOW! A gondola would be cooooooooool!”

  • Pig_Lightning

    RMGreenfield The Portland Aerial Tram is a vital link between  Oregon Health & Science University, a medical school and teaching hospital with 14000 employees, 4000 students, and tens of thousands of annual admissions, and the rest of the city.
    Do people use it as a tourist attraction? Sure, but the vast majority of its nearly 4000 daily riders are employees, students, or patients at OHSU, which subsidized the $60 million construction. The annual operating costs of nearly $2 million are not covered by the $4 round trip fares, and OHSU continues to pay for its employees to use the tram.
    I’m all for moonshots, but this pie in the sky potential boondoggle is hardly comparable to the OHSU tram.

  • saltecks

    DeanerPPX saltecks Michael DiPasquale 
    I think you should re-read my comment. I didn’t say thru the DL&W Terminal, I said “TO” the DL&W terminal. And yes, it is an option under consideration by the NFTA. The tracks are already there because that is where the trains are serviced …inside the terminal. Not outside, and not on South Park Ave.

    All the low cost ROWs which I mentioned do not use currently operational commercial tracks. They  all utilized track beds which belonged to  the now defunct South Buffalo Railway. The NFTA controls those rights.
    As far as the $320million; I specifically said… after they complete the build out.  the Response to RFP  to build out the aud block was received in April. Maybe we should give them more than a month.

    You keep throwing out hypothetical situations which may have the potential to adversely affect the   extension of metro rail, but apparently  you refuse to consider  the possibility  of any problems which may be encountered in the development of a cable car system.
    Oh. and please provide  a link to photos  of those 45million dollar Portland cup holders.

  • greenca

    Why would it force General Mills to shut down operations? Weren’t they operating just fine in the years past when the bridge was there, and overall traffic in that area was heavy due the surrounding industries?

  • This would be so cool if it happens

  • scribs6

    A gondola 🙂