The future of Munich’s public transport is currently up in the air. The city is in discussions about building a 4.5km gondola to link two districts in the northern part of the city. The proposed gondola would provide a solution to a local issue that could, if effective, be implemented in other problem areas in the city. The link would connect two subway stations – Oberwiesenfeld and Studentenstadt – that are just 4.5km apart on a major road. Despite the short distance, travelling between the two stations involves a five-stop subway trip toward the city centre, a transfer, and a five-stop trip back out in a different direction. Or, sitting in traffic.
The proposal has had strong support so far and will most likely go ahead. However, gondolas tend to work well in certain situations, transforming mobility in hilly areas but have had mixed results in cities. London’s Emirates Air Line, for example, is notoriously underused, it’s even been reported that the cable car emoji is the least used emoji on Twitter. Sobering stuff.
The public transport in operation in Munich today focuses on getting people out of the city centre. This is fine for commuters, but not for people in the northern part of the city who simply want to travel between the two nearby neighbourhoods. Similar recent projects around Europe have been faring relatively well. France, in particular, is a fan of a gondola, with five gondola projects currently underway, due to be opened by 2021. A gondola crossing Brest’s river, which was opened in late 2016, celebrated its millionth passenger last month, which is especially impressive considering the area’s population is just 300,000.