Environmental groups are calling on Oxford City Council to introduce a network of gondola lifts, with the potential to carry up to 4000 people an hour.
The proposal comes amid growing concerns over traffic levels in the centre of the city, with Oxford City Council today announcing a new campaign aiming to educate people about air pollution and promoting clean travel behaviours.
Last month, city council leaders refused to back a Green group proposal for £25,000 to be spent on research into the use of low emission aerial transport. It stated that gondola lifts, more commonly known as cable cars, should be considered as a viable alternative to road transport.
However, the proposal did receive the support of Oxfordshire County Council leader Ian Hudspeth, who told BBC Oxford: “We can’t build more roads in Oxford, we know we’re constrained by buildings. Now if this is an alternative by using the space above… I don’t see why we should not consider it.”
He stated that although the suggestion might seem “off the wall,” the council is willing to look into ideas that are “outside the box.”
The proposal also received the backing of environmental groups such as the Oxford Civic Society, who claim to be “dedicated to the continuous improvement of Oxford.”
Juliet Blackburn of the Oxford Civic Society Transport Group argued that the plans “have some huge advantages over road-building,” which would be “especially welcome [in Oxford] as existing roads will still be needed in the future for other modes of transport.”
She also highlighted their use of “clean electricity” as a possible means of getting people into the proposed Central Oxford Zero Emissions Zone. Blackburn also noted that the gondola lifts would be “ideal for tourists who [could] get a very good view of the city.”
Regarding the proposed gondola lifts, the Oxford Climate Society told Cherwell: “Oxford is suffering from dangerous air pollution and a congested city centre. To protect its citizens, innovative and bold measures capable of solving these problems are urgently required.
“If the proposed gondola lifts can improve commuters’ quality of life and take unnecessary cars off the street, they are worth investigating. However, it would be wrong to support measures that facilitate more individual car-traffic in the suburbs. Councillors thus need to ensure that any such measures are part of an intelligent package of public transportation capable of tackling this problem at the root.”
The Oxford Student Green Party told Cherwell: “If the Council is serious about introducing a ZEZ [Zero Emission Zone] then it needs to be looking at innovative new ideas. Rather than building more car parks, increasing city centre car parking spaces and cutting parking charges, as it is now, it needs to consider a wider array of alternative solutions.
“Greens are always looking for good value, energy- and space-efficient transit ideas. Gondola lifts have the potential to be all of these things, and alleviate traffic pressure on buses, cars, and cyclists. Our priority remains making cycling in Oxford safer and public transport more accessible, while reducing air pollution.”
The proposed lifts would be the seventh passenger cable car network to be built in the UK, and could connect straight onto the rooftop level of the Westgate Centre.