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The Warsaw Voice » Business » April 16, 2008
Special Section - Transportation & Logistics
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Gondolas in the Air: Transport of Tomorrow
April 16, 2008 By Michal Jeziorski   
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Cars may soon be driving off into the sunset thanks to a novel invention that will have you soaring through the air instead of leaving you stranded in the asphalt wastes of city streets.

The Metropolitan Individual System of Transportation via Elevated Rail (MISTER) will see to it that you arrive at your destination safely and on time-using an electrically-powered network of gondolas.

MISTER, the brainchild of Polish engineer Olgierd Mikosza, promises to resolve all those intractable problems besetting urban transport once and for all. The idea is simple. The city's vacant overhead space is utilized instead of paving over whatever greenery is left or drilling expensive tunnels. Mikosza came up with the idea while sitting in San Francisco traffic. "Necessity is the mother of invention," says Mikosza. "The idea hit me while I was stuck in a traffic jam on an eight-lane freeway. The United States has the world's best road infrastructure and yet traffic crawls along at 5 kph. How many more lanes is it going to take to beat congestion? You have to look for a different solution. This is how MISTER came into being."

MISTER is an electrically-powered overhead gondola rail system. Its lightweight construction and relatively low set-up costs allow for an extensive network to be built. The system will be able to carry 16,000 passengers per route per hour according to Mikosza. Capacity can be doubled by simply setting up two-level tracks.

Dashing through the air in a small gondola is faster and safer than contemporary modes of transport, says Mikosza. The openwork rail is supported by lightweight poles erected along the street. These resemble street lamps in appearance and in the fact that they also give off light. Elevated four-seater gondolas, traveling at 50 kilometers per hour, are suspended from the rails. The gondolas halt at side-track stops but only on demand. This ensures smooth and collision-free traffic flow along the main arteries. The vehicle travels to its destination at constant speed without stopping along the way. "The gondola is at your sole disposal," says the designer. "It's just like a taxi in that it doesn't stop to pick up more passengers."

MISTER's price is an indisputable selling point. The system costs zl.15-20 million per kilometer to build, gondolas included, and the running cost per gondola per passenger is a mere one grosz (zl.0.01) per kilometer. This means that 250 km of gondola rail could be set up for the price of 20 km of metro line. "Forget about deficits and subsidies and throwing away public money. We're finally going to make a profit," says Mikosza.
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