Developer Wants to Build High-Speed Gondola Between Brooklyn, Manhattan

A New York City real estate developer wants to build a high-speed gondola that he claims could carry 5,000 people per hour in both directions between Brooklyn, Manhattan and, eventually, Queens.

CityRealty chief Dan Levy proposed the ski lift-type tram at a real estate conference in Brooklyn Tuesday. Such a mode of transportation would lessen commuter congestion on the notoriously busy L train while affording an unparalleled view of the city, he said.

"You walk up to the gondola, wait no more than 30 seconds to get in and get from Brooklyn to Manhattan in less than four minutes," Levy said.

Levy said the gondola system would be constructed in phases. The first phase would connect the Brooklyn Navy Yard to Williamsburg and then Williamsburg to the Lower East Side.

Eventually, the system would expand to link DUMBO to the South Street Seaport, and connect Greenpoint and Long Island City to the existing tram route on Roosevelt Island, according to the proposal. Levy said each phase of development would cost up to $125 million.

Skeptics said a gondola wouldn't move people as quickly from place to place, nor would they be able to transport as many people at a time. Others expressed concern about practicality, skyline aesthetics and cost. 

Levy, said his proposal is "pennies on the dollar relative to building a new bridge or digging a new subway tunnel," and has other benefits as well.

It would also be a time-saver, according to Levy's estimates. For example, it currently takes about 51 minutes to get from Williamsburg to Penn Station, he says. Using the gondola, it would take about 33 minutes, which would save commuters 18 minutes. Levy says the gondola would shave nearly 30 minutes off the time it takes to get from Williamsburg to the World Trade Center, and 16 minutes from the time it takes to get from Williamsburg to Grand Central.

The gondola can operate safely in winds of up to 75 mph, according to Levy, and moves at a max speed of 26 mph. The developer says it creates no gas emissions and is three times safer than using bus or rail service.

Other international hubs like Rio de Janeiro in Brazil successfully use the gondola system as a commuting alternative, Levy added.

Follow Andrew Siff on Twitter @andrewsiff4NY

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