High Street cable car

### ODT Online Wed, 25 Nov 2009
Cable car planning encouraged by DCC
By Chris Morris
The group promoting a plan to have cable cars rolling up and down Dunedin’s High St has been encouraged to continue its work by the Dunedin City Council.
Read more

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr


Filed under Construction, Design, Economics, Fun, Inspiration, Politics, Project management, Site, Town planning

28 responses to “High Street cable car

  1. Is the High St cable car option the only other one available if the upper Stuart St option is not viable? Isn’t it possible to run a rail car of some description – somewhere flat – like up to the North End, past the uni and Botanical Gardens to, say, the bottom of Baldwin St or out to South Dunedin / St Clair? It strikes me that the cost of going uphill makes the project more prohibitive because of health and safety issues and engineering difficulties. I’m no expert or authority on this. Just a curious citizen.
    Whatever happens we need a railcar system that is practical and cheap for both city commuters and tourists. The Christchurch tram system is expensive to run, and to buy tickets for, and just seems to do a little meander around a relatively small area for the tourists. You may as well walk. There’s something kind of fake about it too.
    For those real visionaries who are promoting this project – as opposed to the ‘stadium visionaries’ – I don’t fancy the chances of anything happening soon or at least for many many years. (We know why, don’t we). I wouldn’t feel encouraged, but nevertheless good on them for persisting. Call me cynical, but the council’s response seems a nice way for gently letting people down and not completely dashing their hopes. If I was a cunning politician I would give such a sop to a sincere and dedicated group who are seen to be promoting something that is beneficial for ALL the people of Dunedin. The city kitty, unfortunately, has already been plundered – and the council knows it.

  2. Phil

    I have to agree with you there, Peter. I think the idea of a cable car or tram system is great. And I congratulate Richard and the team for their work to date. Bill Campbell must be as pleased as. I’m not convinced about the route, however. Ok, it’s historical. So maybe it will mean something to the people who live in the area. But is that the target audience? No, I don’t think it is. The market, if not for commuters, is the tourist market. And the history of a tram route means absolutely nothing to them. I just wonder, when they get to the top of High Street, what are they going to do? What are they going to spend their tourist dollars on during the 24 hours they have in Dunedin, when they are spending 2 or 3 of those hours in Mornington? And, to be fair, the view on the way up is not going to make it onto a lot of video cameras to show back home.

    Brilliant idea, and I don’t want this to appear as a brickbat. I do question that we have the best location for the market we’re hoping to attract. Stuart Street would have been ideal, down to the Railway Station, through the CBD, or a route to the beach. But no one will get past Don I suspect.

    • Elizabeth

      I diverged off the Dunedin Cable Car organising group before it formed the charitable trust to do further investigation. A very nice group all up.

      I hesitated at the time to take on another trusteeship due to workload and priorities – but also, as discussed with the group members, I’m interested in contemporary forms of transit, design and engineering, mobility access (the accessible journey) – and yes, BEST future market(s)… they being on the “flat”, and via route(s) looped, as I see it.

      I can’t live in museums. San Francisco is a great experience. Christchurch trams are not. What can Dunedin do differently with new forms of public transport into the future, utilising the city’s great engineering base!!?? Remains one of my deepest interests.

  3. Richard

    Now that’s the line of thinking, I applaud. One in which I am trysting with ‘Pukeko’ at ODT Online. His interest is an aviation musuem on lines (planes?) that have little connection with Dunedin.

    I’ll come back and develop my thoughts on cable cars, trams et al when I get some time. The sort of things that form part of what Dr. Rodney Wilson sees as making Dunedin “a heritage city”.

    “Big thinking does not happen in small spaces.”

    We need a new thread, EK?

  4. I can’t believe that anyone genuinely thinks that a cable car would fit into the modern transport modes of this city. On the basis of economics, the hopeless task of integration and so called novelty factor, it wouldn’t get past first base. Move on, get over it. Look to the future, not the past. Think outside the square, and outside current traffic ways. For a similar amount of expenditure a gondola from Bethunes Gully up to Mount Cargill would give an experience to die for. The trip would be memorable, the views from the top are 180 degrees, and the overview of Dunedin total. Take a trip up by road and see if I am not right. But hey! don’t forget, the stadium has put paid to any of these dreams.

    • Elizabeth

      Before I provide a link to the ODT editorial today about cable cars, I have to say it reads rather tersely even if the message is very similar to the queries (to the future) being raised at this post.

      It’s entirely possible to have both a new public transport system develop in stages, and a heritage cable car run up High Street…depending on viability (into the future) and who will pay for the pleasure. None of this is clear yet, and that’s absolutely fine. Message to ODT: keep your minds open.


      I got an email update today from the Dunedin Cable Car Trust, addressed to its members. I cite it in part:

      “Already in Monday’s article, the ODT have taken the angle of the Stuart Street Group being the ‘poor losers’ in this affair, before any decision had been made by the Council. Mein Consultants Report makes it quite clear of the difficulties of the Stuart Street line. What it doesn’t mention about the Stuart Street line, and neither does the ODT in their reporting so far, is:

      # The extra cost of closing the Octagon permanently to traffic. Initially the Stuart Street group wanted to carry their route directly across the Octagon from Lower Stuart Street to Upper Stuart Street. This would permanently close the Octagon to traffic as an embankment would be required due to the difference in height levels. No cost was allowed for this in their submission to Council which would be in the region of several million dollars.

      # The amount of money needed to tackle the groundwater problems of the Nairn Street reserve where the planned location of the Terminus building is to be located. It is the meeting place of three underground rivers and groundwater works of several millions of dollars would need to be spent before any work on the terminal building was to commence. Again, no cost was allowed for this in their submission.

      Be cautious when reading any comments in the press. As always, they will paint an angle as to provoke comment or reaction. In true tradition, you only need to look at the way their poll on Cable Cars is worded on their website to see how they can ‘force’ those who do not know the facts to answer in a certain way. Please, by all means, write any letters of support to the media if you so wish.”

      The Dunedin Cable Car Trust, will arrange a meeting in late January / early February to provide further updates. By then, the trust hopes to have begun “a detailed survey of the High Street and surrounding roads, as well as businesses, to gauge the potential level of support for a Cable Car”.


      ### ODT Online Thu, 26 Nov 2009
      Editorial: Cable cars (again)
      Various proposals to reintroduce cable cars to Dunedin’s hill streets have been floated over the decades since services were discontinued, and some have been taken as far as feasibility studies. All have foundered on the rock of costs.
      Read more

  5. Richard

    “But hey! don’t forget, the stadium has put paid to any of these dreams”.

    No, it hasn’t!

  6. Just build it!………And they will come.

  7. David

    Calvin – you’re wrong about the views from Mt Cargill. They are not 180 – they are 360.

    It’s the most stunning view of any city in the country.

    And have we capitalised on New Zealand’s best city view?

    We’ve …er….um….done….well….nothing.

    We need –
    Gondola to Mt Cargill.

    Connected to the tram that goes from
    – the world’s steepest street
    – gardens
    – George St
    – close to Universtiy
    – close to Museum
    – George St restaurants
    – shops and malls
    – Octagon
    – bars
    – info centre
    – Town Hall, Library, Dunedin Centre
    – Art Galllery, Regent Theatre
    – Hotels
    – Casino
    – close to Brewery
    – close to Chinese Garden
    – antique shops
    – Oval
    – Sth Dunedin, supermarket, Warehouse and shops
    – Mayfair Theatre
    – Marlow Dinosaur Park
    – St Clair Beach
    – Forbury Park Raceway
    – new BMX track
    – St Clair Precinct of Restaurants and Bars
    – new St Clair Pier
    – Hot Salt Water Pool

    and return.

    Much cheaper than a Mornington cable car, and much more useful.

    • Elizabeth

      Suggest, in future, NEW IDEAS for Dunedin that aren’t about the High Street Cable Car project promoted by the Dunedin Cable Car Trust >>> get posted to What else! Future options for Dunedin include…

      It was Richard’s suggestion to start a new thread. David’s comment with “idea-tional” list is NEW and worth talking about. Also Phil’s and others’ comments that look to alternative public transport routes and systems should skip across to the other thread. Not going to copy all these over due to exhaustion!

      • Elizabeth

        Kudos to Dunedin Cable Car Trust (DCCT) for the replies it’s making to a certain individual blogging at ODT Online, who wouldn’t know an elephant if it sat on him.

        ### ODT Online Fri, 15/01/2010 – 2:40pm.
        Comment by Philc on Get the facts right, please…
        Thank you for your considered views on the Cable Car. There are a lot of errors in your summation of the High Street Cable Car project…We want to be innovative in our approach. The Mein Report addresses issues from a ‘standard’ preliminary investigation report. We agree with parts of the report but not parts where, for obvious reasons, no detail was entered into…The majority of councilors voted to allow us “That the committee invite the High Street group to take the project investigation to a higher level and to report back the results thereof”. That is what we are doing, in our own time, and at no cost to the ratepayers…
        Read more

        ### ODT Online Mon, 11/01/2010 – 6:36pm.
        Comment by Philc on In response to ‘Noddy’….
        Jimmy, Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. As always with your comments, your message was crystal-clear: ‘You are entitled to your opinion, as long as it’s mine.’ Usually it is best to comment on things when something is known about them. All you have done here is use the DCC report and the original ODT reports before and after the council meeting on Nov 24th [2009] and used them in answer to Lois Galer’s very nice piece about cable cars.
        Read more

        By following the links you can read the full replies and also wider correspondence about the High Street Cable Car project.

        • Elizabeth

          Philc mentions this Lois Galer opinion piece:

          ### ODT Online Sat, 2 Jan 2010
          Opinion: Cable car may be the ticket for city
          By Lois Galer
          Ideas for the return of cable cars to Dunedin prompted Lois Galer, of Ophir, to reflect on the success of the San Francisco cable cars, to reminisce on their Dunedin counterparts and to wonder what the future could bring.
          Read more

          More attempted upending of the High Street Cable Car project by ‘a certain individual’ at ODT Online, drawing yet another grounded response by Philc. Won’t even bother to supply the links (see my last comment on this thread).

        • Elizabeth

          Although I’m into contemporary (sustainable and mobility accessible) forms of mass transit as a preference, I have to think this historic tram is fabulous:

          ### TVNZ News 7:01PM Saturday January 23, 2010
          Christchurch tram restored to former glory
          Source: ONE News
          It is being described as the one of the most ambitious tram restoration projects ever undertaken anywhere in the world as Christchurch’s Tramway Historical Society have returned a 105-year-old double-decker tram to its former glory. Tram number 26 was one of only three double-decker trams to ever run through Christchurch. After a massive restoration project, led by project leader Graham Richardson, spanning three decades, it is back on the tracks.
          Read more + Video

        • Elizabeth

          ### ODT Online Mon, 18 Oct 2010
          Cable cars: back to the future to help combat peak oil?
          By Stu Oldham
          A plan to run cable cars along High St could be a “small but significant” start to Dunedin preparing for the effects of peak oil, an Australian transport researcher says. “Cable cars and trams worked wonderfully 100 years ago when we did not have cheap oil,” Associate Prof Philip Laird, of Wollongong University, told the Otago Daily Times last week.
          Read more

        • Elizabeth

          (via email)

          Dear Supporters!

          Please find attached a PDF of the Dunedin Cable Car Trust newsletter for December 2010. This will provide you with an update of 2010 and what we hope to achieve in 2011!

          Kind Regards,

          Phil Cole, Chairman – Dunedin Cable Car Trust

          [2.58 MB]

        • Elizabeth

          ### ODT Online Wed, 3 Aug 2011
          Support sought for cable car
          By Hamish McNeilly
          An ambitious plan to resurrect the High St cable car is gaining traction. The Dunedin Cable Car Trust has been gauging public reaction to the project, as it prepares to launch a multimillion-dollar fundraising campaign later this year. Chairman Phil Cole said the trust had spent the last three years planning the cable-car concept, including a recent meeting at Hillside Engineering to discuss making the track components and cable cars.

          From this week, 2000 questionnaires would be delivered to letterboxes in Mornington and Belleknowes to “get people talking about the project”. -Phil Cole, transportation engineer

          Read more

  8. Richard

    I wholeheartedly agree, Elizabeth. A fabulous result for something that is/was distinctive to Christchurch’s tram system.

    I still ‘grit my teeth’ though when I see some former Dunedin trams – also beautifully restored – running on the Christchurch Tramway! When they were at Ferrymead they did, at least, retain the DCT ‘livery’. Oh well!

    • Elizabeth

      You never know, getting some track down in Dunedin might just bring forward more of the old local trams that were parked up round Dunedin area. Pretty sure we know where they all are now, see restoration prospects.

  9. Calvin Oaten

    Good luck to Phil Cole on this one. But really, does he think public money should go into this? If so, where is it to come from? Read the papers, the city is BROKE!! There will be nothing of any social value able to be funded in this city for the next fifty years. Sad, but then we do have a stadium.

  10. Phil Cole

    Thanks for those wishes of good luck, Calvin. Yes, I do read the papers (including your own excellent articles!) and we on the Trust realised when we started on this project back in 2007 that the city was broke even then!

    So…the way to raise funds for this project is to make it so that only the people wishing to donate to the project need to do so – if you don’t want to pay anything, then all you have to do is… nothing! I am fully appreciative of the fact that there are a number (it could be a large number, it could be a small number) of people with perfectly valid reasons both for and against the idea of a Cable Car and therefore any contribution to the cause HAS to be voluntary.

    Of course, we are not just looking in and around Dunedin for potential financial contributions – our blinkers are well and truly off in that respect! – and the last three years haven’t been spent with our feet up doing nothing! Still…onwards and upwards!

    Who knows if the Cable Car will make a re-appearance once more? One thing is for sure…it will not be for the lack of trying on the Trust’s behalf.

  11. Phil, has the Charities Commission agreed to give the Trust charitable tax status?

  12. Phil Cole

    Currently going through the joys and rigmorales (is that how you spell it?) for achieving this…a very frustrating and time-consuming process, but we are slowly getting there!

    • Elizabeth

      Dear Phil Cole – love your page one news item today in ODT.
      Fantastic work!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      The Hillside connection in feasibility is especially pleasing.

  13. Phil Cole

    Thanks for your comments Elizabeth…much appreciated. Lots of work still to do, but we are slowly getting there!

  14. Phil Cole

    Thanks for that posting Elizabeth! Much appreciated…but I guess other more ‘important’ things are grabbing the local headlines at the moment…;)….The Dunedin Cable Car Trust continues to beaver away…

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