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An aerial lift is a means of cable transport in which cabins, cars, gondolas or open chairs are hauled above the ground by means of one or more cables. Aerial lift systems are frequently employed in mountainous territory where roads are relatively difficult to build and use, and have seen extensive use in mining. Aerial lift systems are relatively easy to move, and are and have been used to cross rivers and ravines. In more recent times, the cost-effectiveness and flexibility of aerial lifts has seen an increase of gondola lift being integrated into urban public transport systems.
The following abbreviations are frequently used in the trade and in the industry:
An aerial tramway, aerial tram (both U.S. English) or cable car (British English) is a type of aerial lift which uses one or two stationary ropes for support while a third moving rope provides propulsion. The grip of an aerial tramway is fixed onto the propulsion rope and cannot be decoupled. Aerial trams used for urban transport include the Roosevelt Island Tramway (New York) and Portland Aerial Tram.
A gondola lift is a type of aerial lift, often called a cable car, which is supported and propelled by cables from above. It consists of a loop of steel cable that is strung between two stations, sometimes over intermediate supporting towers. The cable is driven by a bullwheel in a terminal, which is connected to an engine or electric motor. They are often considered continuous systems since they feature a haul rope which continuously moves and circulates around two terminal stations. Depending on the combination of cables used for support and/or haulage and the type of grip (detachable grip vs. fixed grip), the capacity, cost and functionality of a gondola lift will differ dramatically. Because of the proliferation of such systems in the Alpine regions of Europe, the French language name of Télécabine is also used in an English language context. Gondola lifts are also used for urban transportation. Examples include the Singapore Cable Car, Ngong Ping Skyrail (Hong Kong), Metrocable (Medellín), Metrocable (Caracas), Mi Teleférico (La Paz), and Emirates Air Line (London).
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