Tahoe Truckee Aerial Tramway

Tahoe Truckee Aerial Tramway

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Tahoe Truckee Aerial Tramway

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An aerial tramway in Tahoe, huh? A tram that goes from Truckee to Tahoe City with branches that reach out to Alpine Meadows and Squaw Valley. It actually sounds pretty cool. Jeff Sparksworth is considering it a reality. Essentially you’d drive your car to Truckee, park it and jump on the tram. Color coded 6-8 person gondolas would take you and your baggage to your specific destination. The idea of the project would be to eliminate the use of cars on highway 89 along with the traffic and congestion they create. The gondolas would move at 20mph taking you from Truckee to Squaw in 18 minutes and Truckee to Tahoe City in 42 minutes. “I know we’re all in an awful hurry these days and at the extremes these times may seem slow. However, when you factor in bad traffic days, the hassles of parking, and the delays caused by traffic accidents or weather, these times are reasonable.” (TahoeTram.com) Hell, it also just sounds like a fun ride.

Advantages of the Tram system:

No traffic, more environmentally sound then automobiles, cool factor – attractive to tourists and maybe olympics, user cost will be cheap compared to rising automobile user costs and skyrocketing oil prices, minimal snow removal vs. road, and you’ll be able to read, work, use the internet (all gondolas will have cell phone coverage & wi-fi) or just hang out vs. driving.

Disadvantages of the Tram system:

Basically the tricky part is getting the resources to build the tramway. The estimated cost of the tram would be around $500 million, which is a pretty chunk of change.

This is a very interesting idea that truly does deserve some serious consideration.TahoeTram.com has much more information including: costs & revenue projections, comparisons to existing tram systems, tram station details, routes & service areas, benefits of the aerial system, and system capacites.

“If the system could remove 5000 cars for five years, this would be a carbon value of $1,374,000 and an emissions reduction of 55,879,000 lbs.” (from TahoeTram.com)

“This is a long term major infra-structure addition with a 30-50 year amortization that will provide millions of passenger miles. It also could add value to local homes and businesses and perhaps even help bring back the Winter Olympic Games or at least increase international tourism.”

Now I know what you are thinking…..Aren’t cars what makes America great!? This is California where it is your obligation to the economy  to own a car. The bigger the better. My country is a vast one and I got places to go and things to shoot….. thank you very much.

The vision of a new way of traveling around Tahoe does not end with an aerial tramway. A Lake Tahoe Ferry system would open up travel to towns around the lake. Everyone from skiers, tourist and locals could travel more easily  between North and South Lake. A Ferry system would also help cutdown on car traffic along the west shore which has been a major issue with the development of a village at Homewood. Hey JMA ventures, why not try to sell Homewoodieans on a car free Homewood Resort?

Tahoetram.com points out, “we must start doing something now, using existing, proven technologies that could be retrofitted to use “clean” power sources as they are developed and come on line. This simple mechanical system could run using electricity from any source.”

Transport Mode Average Passengers
Per Vehicle
Btu Per Passenger-Mile Mj Per Passenger-Kilometer Notes
Vanpool 6.1 1,322 0.867 Most efficient auto-based system – Use Same Roads
Efficient Hybrid 1.57 1,659 1.088 Toyota Prius – Use Same Roads
Motorcycles 1.2 1,855 1.216 Use Same Roads
Rail (Intercity Amtrak) 20.5 2,650 1.737 No Tahoe Service
Rail (Transit Light & Heavy) 22.5 2,784 1.825 No Tahoe Service
Rail (Commuter) 31.3 2,996 1.964 No Tahoe Service
Air 96.2 3,261 2.138 Small Jets Only
Cars 1.57 3,512 2.302 Use Same Roads
Personal Trucks 1.72 3,944 2.586 Use Same Roads
Buses (Transit) 8.8 4,235 2.776 Use Same Roads
Aerial Tramway 8 250 0.264 Dramatic Efficiency Gains

In 1996 the town of Telluride became the first to open a free public gondola transportation system. “Since its opening in November 1996, the Telluride/Mountain Village gondola has served as a one-of-a-kind transportation system, unique to its kind in North America. The gondola provides FREE transportation between the towns of Telluride and Mountain Village and it serves both as a lift for skiers and snowboarders, but also as transportation for local and visitor pedestrians. This scenic ride takes 15 minutes and can take you from Telluride to Mountain Village or vice-versa” Telluride.com

Rio de Janeiro implementing arial gondolas as a form of mass transit system in the favelas. Gondolas of Rio de Janeiro

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