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Aerial Cable Transport for Oxford

Stuck in traffic

The predicted growth in the Oxfordshire economy is going to put immense strain on an already-struggling transport system.  Oxford's geography, intersected by floodplains and with hills to east and west, restricts the possibilities for new transport routes.  Currently 46,000 people daily attempt to squeeze down the city's 7 narrow transport corridors. This is predicted to rise to 65,000 by 2036.

Our major hospitals are surrounded by residential housing and protected green space.

Air Pollution

We know that, increasingly, private cars and other powered vehicles will have to be kept out of the city centre.  Eventually vehicles that do come in will have to be low-emission because of illegal levels of air pollution.


We may already have reached 'peak bus' as anyone familiar with the High Street can see.  Transport priorities are rightly on cycling and walking, but these are not necessarily the solution for the millions of tourists. In order to increase our current cycling rate of 16% to the Dutch level of 40% there is a crucial need for road investment .  Only then will we be able to make a significant difference to our pollution problem.

Despite these difficulties, according to the National Infrastructure Commission's recent report, "residents of many recent housing developments (in the wider county) have very little choice other than to use their cars" as a result of the "missing scale of infrastructure planning and expertise at the level of the metropolitan network". The development of a comprehensive, high capacity, regional, public transit network, although several years away and very expensive, is inevitable.

Aerial Cable Transport

The County Highways planners are currently gathering data and modelling ways of tackling the city's transport challenges.  ACT4Oxford thinks that as they do so, Aerial Cable Transport (ACT) should be considered in the mix of possible solutions for particular problems that they identify.

Aerial Cable Transport— cable cars — includes continuous steady-speed systems with smaller gondolas arriving every thirty seconds or so, but also 'aerial trams' with just two much larger gondolas (starting simultaneously at each end), which enables them to accelerate to higher speeds.  Both are thoroughly tried and tested technologies increasingly deployed as part of urban transport systems worldwide. Some examples of horizontal urban systems include Lisbon, Gothenburg and Brest.


It is rarely used or even understood in the UK.  Its capacity and its affordability are surprising, being able to deliver passengers at the rate of eighty buses an hour across rivers and railways and up and down hills — for a fraction of the cost of a new road.

We can envisage ACT systems addressing particular problems and opportunities in Oxford and surrounding districts, but being novel (in the UK) they are potentially contentious.  Skiers will be very used to using them, but may find it hard to imagine in Oxford.  However, we believe that with careful thought and enough accurate information there could be considerable public support for such systems in our 'world class city.'

Please see the video from the Emirates cable car in London which shows that bikes can be carried on it:

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