Alignment Study Pittsburgh Sky Car

The City of Pittsburgh is hoping to transform their transportation system while maintaining equity in transit and solving problems like car traffic congestion. As such, public officials and stakeholders are looking towards innovative transit solutions. In 2018, McLaren Engineering Group analyzed the possibilities and challenges of the Pittsburgh Sky Car being a viable solution. An alignment study was conducted, and a white paper of our findings was produced for key stakeholders.

The McLaren Difference: Applied Ingenuity

McLaren studied the feasibility of the proposed urban gondola system and determined the project was viable from an engineering and constructability standpoint.

The Pittsburgh Sky Car could provide a transformative connection with significant transportation, tourism, and community/quality-of-life benefits for this Pennsylvania city. The project would connect the north and south shores of the Ohio River, where there is a dramatic change in elevation, providing a key link to two of the Pittsburgh’s most popular neighborhood destinations. The route would integrate the existing transit system as well as the Three Rivers Trail, enhancing the region’s trail system and allowing cyclists to transport bicycles with them across the Ohio River.

Alignment Study

After investigating potential alignments, consulting with Doppelmayr (the world’s leader on gondola systems) on the development of the alignment and investigating station locations and tower locations across the proposed corridor, one alignment was selected. The proposed route is approximately 3,220 linear feet in length, with a vertical rise of 423 feet, and includes two stations and nine towers.

Tasks during the study included:

  • Reviewing existing data, considering geography/topography, land ownership, permitting requirements, initial ridership inventory, and utilities.
  • Assessing the proposed alignment with consideration for station locations, alignment challenges, rope line calculations and engineering constraints, tower locations, operational efficiencies, system visibility, and accessibility.
  • Investigating local demand, preferences, and economic impacts.
  • Developing a ridership model.