Austin is in search of not just one traffic solution, but many.
The Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority agreed Wednesday to consider a feasibility study of an aerial tram, or gondola.
Professor Randy Machemehl, a Civil Engineering Professor at the University of Texas, said that a big limitation of an aerial tramway would be its capacity. In fact, trams aren't even a part of what is considered mass transportation.
"We don't generally include aerial tramway in our description of public mass transportation systems because they are usually something that's used as a way of providing a very scenic tour of an urban area," Machemehl said.
Portland is home to one of only two commuter trams in the U.S. Their tramway has two cars that carry 79 people each for a distance of less than two-thirds of a mile. The tramway cost Portland $57 million.
Machemehl estimates a tramway can carry about 2,000 people per hour, the same as his estimate for a highway lane. He thinks a tramway could contribute to a traffic solution.
"The major objective probably wouldn't be moving a large number of people, it would be providing visitors and maybe a few people a scenic way to travel," Machemehl said.
The CTRMA will likely consider the viability study at their next board meeting on September 28.
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