Téléphériques d'Agglomération Urbaine d'Éroÿ

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Téléphériques d'Éroÿ (TdÉ)
Overview
OwnerTéléphériques d'Agglomération Urbaine d'Éroÿ
Area servedÉroÿ
Transit typeAerial Tramway
Number of lines8
Number of stations37
Daily ridership135,000
Headquarters2 Place de la Loi, Éroÿ DP 30425
Websitewww.transportseroy.gov.cs
Operation
Began operation1913
Operator(s)Régie des Transports de l’Agglomération Urbaine Éroÿ
Number of vehiclesca. 4100 unpiloted 12-person aerial cable cars
Headway15-45 seconds, depending on line and hour
First departureSystem operates 24/7/365
Technical
System length36 km
Tracksone monocable line in each direction of travel
Average speed15-20 km/hr
Top speed30 km/hr

Perhaps the most extensive aerial tramway mass transit system in the world, the TdÉ network consists of 36 stations in 8 lines, with the 37th slated to open in late 2017. TdÉ serves the metropolitan area of the city of Éroÿ in north-central Castine.

History

Éroÿ owes its over 100-year reliance on aerial trams to topography: the city clings to the walls of a broad, 500 meter deep canyon. Naturally-occurring terraces as well as the canyon roofs provide suitably flat areas for settlement.  Market towns sprang up on these terraces to service the commerce of the surrounding fertile plateaus and valleys, and a colonial viceroyalty was established on the well-protected eastern summit.  

Although the broad canyon proved less of a barrier to the movement of goods and people than the adjacent sheer cliffs, travel between the terrace towns was arduous enough to block the routine daily contact that would have coalesced them into a single community. Especially after independence was won and the viceroyalty dissolved, Éroÿ -- already charted as a city, but only in name -- entered a century-long period of decline.

The city seemed doomed to stagnation and oblivion, with nothing but stunning but nearly inaccessible scenery and the poorly-maintained remains of the viceregal palaces to recommend it. The rail and streetcar transport available at the time was incapable of handling the necessary grades and switchbacks (and indeed even modern systems could not handle most of the slopes).

A turning point was reached in 1913, when a coalition of the city and parish authorities, a grass-roots private charity drive and the wealthier magnates of the plateaus surrounding Éroÿ succeeded in raising the funds needed to construct a three-station, 1.3 km system whose 180 m vertical elevation change sufficed to connect two of the terraces on the eastern face with the caynon's eastern rim and dramatically reduce the travel time from base to rim.

The bootstrap effect on the towns of the canyon was even larger than hoped for. Not only could goods be moved more quickly and at vastly more cost, townspeople could for the first time commute between terraces as a matter of daily routine. Éroÿ's decline halted, and by the time the second three-station line was added in 1927 the city had begun to grow and to establish regional dominance in industries such as garment-making and food processing.

The expansion of both TdÉ and Éroÿ have continued apace, until Éroÿ is now the ninth-largest city in Castine and boasts the highest population growth rate of any city in Castine. It is host to a prominent liberal arts college, many well-restored colonial-era buildings, an unusually large number of museums and fine arts facilities for a city its size, and a robust tourist industry -- for which surveys have shown (citation needed) the main draw remains TdÉ.

Network

The current TdÉ network features 36 stations, with the 37th, Éroÿ-le-Haut on the western canyon rim, slated to open in late 2017. The system map shown below follows the custom of using both of Castine's official languages. At upper right it also features the emblem of TdÉ, unchanged from its 1913 version because instantly recognizable throughout Castine as a symbol of Éroÿ.

The current official TdÉ System Map.  White, light grey and dark grey represent low, intermediate and high elevation areas, respectively.  This representation was found to reflect how residents visualized the city's geography more effectively than one that showed administrative boundaries and/or major streets and landmarks.
Official TdÉ System Map. Since Éroèiennes often use topography and elevation to orient themselves, the map shades low, intermediate and high-elevation regions as white, light grey and dark grey, respectively.

Box canyons cut deep into the main canyon wall on both east and west. A nuisance to early inhabitants who had to go several km out of their way to cikircumvent them, in the era of TdÉ they have become conduits to the heart of each plateau, allowing cable car routes to reach deep into the city. Without them, service to stations including Belles-Clairières, Aéroport, Place Gaël Aveline and Falaises Grises would not be possible.

In part because TdÉ can provide coverage approaching that of a conventional mass-transit system, its ridership statistics on a per-person basis are the strongest in Castine on and comparable to those of the finest large metro systems in the world. The table summarizes key measures of performance.

-
Item Value
Metro Éroÿ population 208 000
Urbanized area [km^2] 78
Length of line [km] 36.0
Number of Stations 37
Rides per inhabitant per day 0.66
Length of line in km per 100k inhab. 1730
Stations per km^{2} of urban area 0.47
Daily ridership 137,000

Geography and the unique constraints imposed by the cable cars do lead to some shortcomings in the network's coverage. The next figure shows the actual geographic distribution of the stations superimposed atop a street map of the urban area. Since lines are difficult or impossible to construct over flat or gently rolling areas, especially if these are already built-up, some areas can only be reached by circuitous routes that follow the canyon walls. As an example, one would have to take four different lines to travel from Les Cabanes, the last stop on the orange line, to Aéroport, a station barely 2 km distant in a straight line. Even better, a full five lines must be taken to reach the black line Falaises Grises station, just 700 meters away (TdÉ in fact provides a free transfer and shuttle between the two stations).

TdÉ routes and stations superimposed on a street map of the Éroÿ urban area.
TdÉ routes and stations superimposed on a street map of the Éroÿ urban area.

These issues illustrate another drawback of cable cars. Topography rarely provides a situation where a single line can be strung for many km. Further, the closed-loop nature of the system -- by design, 12-person unpiloted cars endlessly circle a single line, significantly reduces costs but that the expense of flexibility. Running cars from two lines over one cable to increase interchange opportunities seems attractive but is in practice impossible.

PLANS

Eager to build on success and keep pace with Éroÿ's growth while widening its already-comfortable margin as the greenest city in Castine in terms of vehicle CO_{2} emissions, TdÉ planners have unveiled a 7-station expansion they call 'Vision 2030'.

VISION 2030 plans for the next phase of TdÉ system growth.
VISION 2030 plans. New stations are shown as triangles.

TdÉ and city officials have intimated that four of the seven stations will almost certainly be built. The Fille-des-Falaises / Notre Dame de la Paix line would place a station at the doorstep of a major hospital as well as an important branch of the Maupertuis University medical school. Further, this area is one of very few within the city limits of Éroÿ proper that has no station within walking distance.

The other two certain-to-be-built stations will serve the largest remaining area of Éroÿ that still lacks TdÉ coverage, the lower southern Côtes-d'Asphodèle. A station will be built at the periphery of the Huit-Carrés-en-Pente historic district. This station has in fact been proposed many times in the past, but residents of Huit-Carrés, fearful of the crowds that would descend on their sloping squares and pretty adobe houses, managed to block the efforts. This time, though, it looks like all hurdles will be cleared as long as the city fund used to help maintain the adobes is generously topped up. The line through Huit-Carrés-en-Pente will make just one more stop, at residential Bonnes-Endroits, before terminating at the orange line station of Tassé-les-Falaises. Users of the orange line can look forward to having to wait through a full six fewer stations to reach the Centrale transfer hub.

The remaining candidates for addition will remain theoretical until at least 2020. One of them, Sainte-Alédée-Maude positioned on a dead-end canyon at the western edge of the urban area, would possibly face resistance by locals who don't want their sleepy town to awaken - as experience has shown that it will once TdÉ arrives. There is a wild card here, though. The need for a second bridge across the Blé Doré gorge is becoming painfully evident as the traffic jams on the Autoroute 7C bridge between Tassé-les-Falaises and Éroÿ-le-Bas are proving. A glance at a map shows that a bridge connecting Sainte-Alédée-Maude with Belzile on the south side of the gorge would have several advantages, with the isolation of Sainte-Alédée being perhaps the biggest drawback. Yet it is a drawback which a TdÉ connection might be perfectly poised to solve...