Moving people from one place to another means traffic: highway jams, crowded buses, overworked subways; and let’s not get into the bike lane squabbles. But one transit option remains blissfully serene: cable-propelled transit systems.
It’s a broad category of conveyance that includes gondolas, aerial tramways, funiculars, and in western Pennsylvania, inclines: cars that move up and down a set of tracks, driven by cables.
The region boasts three inclines. Johnstown, Pa. bills its inclined plane — capable of carrying 60 people, six motorcycles, or a car — as the steepest vehicular incline in the world. In Pittsburgh, the Monongahela Incline and the Duquesne Incline daily tote a combined 2,500 people up and down the steep side of Mount Washington. On a nice, sunny day, or when the Steelers play, operators have seen the numbers climb as high as 5,000.
Keystone Crossroads is a statewide public media initiative reporting on the challenges facing Pennsylvania's cities. WPSU is a participating station.