Aerial Rapid Transit

The full gondola system is expected to be up and running by 2028. 

Imagine going from Union Station to Dodger Stadium in 7 minutes. 

That’s what the Los Angeles Aerial Rapid Transit’s team is hoping with a new urban gondola system that is being studied to make sure it meets environmental standards. 

Cory Zelmer, a deputy executive officer for the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, said the process doesn’t start and stop with construction but even after the project is complete. 

“We also have to access what the impacts might be when this is in operation,” Zelmer said. 

“If you can imagine if it were a train system, for example, when you introduce it to a new part of town, it might bring in noise to that area. So, we would need to evaluate what noise that could bring to the area. It’s not just construction but also operation.”

The first part of the CEQA process will scope out the gondola system in surrounding areas to gather possible concerns people may have. Then, that information is compiled into an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for further developments and improvements on the planned gondola system to help get the project going.

“This process will help us get a better idea at what (the gondola system) will actually look and feel like so we can access those impact areas,” Zelmer said. 

“There is a number of different categories that we have to evaluate, and the report will describe the project in relation with those environmental impacts.”

Zelmer said some of the environmental impacts that go into evaluating the system include how it affects traffic, created noise and whether it can withstand wildfire conditions, a new aspect added for evaluation after the recent wildfires.

The CEQA evaluation process started in October when the notice of preparation for the EIR was issued. The LA ART expects to have the initial review process complete by 2022 to have construction begin as early as 2025.

The Downtown gondola system was proposed in 2018 and is the first aerial transport system to come to Los Angeles. The gondola system will connect Union Station in Downtown Los Angeles to the Dodger Stadium and surrounding communities such as Elysian Park, El Pueblo and Los Angeles State Historic Park. 

“In recent years, Union Station has hosted more than 100,000 daily transit riders—a number we expect to double by 2040,” said Metro CEO Phillip A. Washington. 

“This project provides an important connection to the stadium and surrounding neighborhoods and reaffirms our commitment to new, environmentally friendly ways of navigating our city.”

Cindy Starrett is the project management consultant assisting with the project and said because of the elevation difference between Union Station and Dodgers Stadium, a gondola system would be most accommodating for the two, rather than an elevated train system.

“(A gondola) can fly over the streets and doesn’t take up as much roadway and physical space like a monorail and elevated train would,” Starrett said. “We’re hopeful that we’ll encourage people to take public transit as a better way to get around.”

The LAART gondola system will be able to move 5,500 people to the stadium per hour in both directions on a 7-minute trip. The transport could move 10,000 people two hours before the start of a game. Aerial transportation systems have proven to be an efficient and eco-friendly mode of transportation in major cities like Mexico City, New York City and London.

A renowned multidisciplinary LA firm RIOS, along with experts and international ropeway engineers, designed the gondola cabins that will allow riders a view of the city while the Union Station and Dodger Stadium will fit right in with the iconic mid-century aesthetic. 

The gondola system will also be a new sustainable way for people to use public transportation, with the cars running with zero emissions to help improve local air quality while cutting back on greenhouse gas emissions, according to the press release. Starrett said the system will help reduce the game-day congestion surrounding the stadium every season.

“There’s no easy transit access to Dodger Stadium, so we think that providing that will encourage people to take other forms of transit as well,” Starrett said. “We’re really excited about the visitor experience as well. We look forward to welcoming them back and give them an iconic experience.”

The full gondola system is anticipated to be up and running by 2028. Visit laart.la for more information.