You Say Aerial Trams, We Say Inclines

Dec 28, 2016


The Duquesne Incline is one of two cable-propelled transit systems in Pittsburgh. Built in the 1870's, the Duquesne and Monongahela Inclines tote commuters and tourists alike up and down the steep slope of Mount Washington. "From an operations standpoint, it’s really easy to run. It only goes to two destinations, up and down,” said Port Authority of Allegheny County spokesperson Adam Brandolph. (AP File Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Credit Gene J. Puskar / AP File Photo

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.


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