Ohlone Sky Ocean Park Cable Car by Eric Du

Ocean Park Cable Car, Hong Kong. Source: Eric Du


Imagine floating above San Francisco Bay. This is the view. Bay to Sky.

Ohlone Sky is a (proposed) network of gondolas (aerial cable cars) around the San Francisco Bay Area. There are three routes: San Francisco to Treasure Island, the Dumbarton Rail Corridor (Fremont to Redwood City), and San Jose (Diridon Transit Center to the San José Mineta International Airport.

Salt Flats

Salt Flats. Source: Mira Zaslove

Routes and Maps

San Francisco has three stations: Pier 24, Yerba Buena Island, and Treasure Island. The Dumbarton Rail Corridor has seven. From west to east: 1) Redwood City; 2) Middlefield Road (Menlo Park); 3) Willow Road (Menlo Park), adjacent Meta and Willow Village; 4) Dumbarton Circle (Fremont), also adjacent Meta; 5) Ardenwood Regional Preserve and Historic Farm; 6) Fremont Centerville, where the Capitol Corridor (Amtrak) and the Altamont Commuter Express (ACE) meet; and 7) BART Fremont Station and the 365-bed Washington Hospital. San Jose has two: Diridon Station, adjacent the SAP Center, and the San José Mineta International Airport.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Ohlone Sky? Ohlone Sky is a (proposed) network of gondolas (aerial cable cars) around the San Francisco Bay Area. The are three routes. 1) San Francisco to Treasure Island. 2) Dumbarton Rail Corridor: Fremont to Menlo Park to Redwood City. And 3) San Jose: Diridon Station to the San José Airport.

What is an gondola or aerial cable car? A gondola or aerial cable car is literally a "car" (cabin) propelled by a cable strung between two or more stations. Some of the most common types of gondolas are enclosed cabins or simply open-air ski lifts at ski resorts. A gondola cabin and can transit for 4-15 people. An aerial tramway 80-100.

How often will it run?. This depends on demand. Departures could be every thirty seconds dawn to dusk and even shorter during periods of high demand. Fully built, Ohlone Sky connects to multiple transit systems: Caltrain, Amtrak, Altamont Commuter Express (ACE), SF Muni, VTA (San Jose), and the San José Airport. Frequency equals freedom. A journey ranges from 4-21 minutes. An end-to-end journey (e.g, Fremont to Redwood City) could take up to an hour. This could be your quiet office in the sky.

Ohlone Sky Distance graphic

Why San Francisco? Currently, developers are building 20,000 units of housing on Treasure Island. This is the carbon neutral transit solution to driving on the Bay Bridge. Its frequency cannot be equaled by any other form of transit. Who relishes traffic on the Bay Bridge? No one. Of all three routes, this will be the most popular for tourists, commuters and friends alike.

Why the Dumbarton Rail Corridor? There is a transit desert between Menlo Park and Fremont. Few options exist. AC Transit U and the Dumbarton Express serve those traveling between the East Bay and Stanford University. Ohlone Sky offers a reliable, scenic journey with far greater frequency. It could be built decades before trains run on the Dumbarton Rail Corridor at a fraction of the cost and provide equal if not greater benefit.

Why San Jose? San Jose has been soliciting bids to connect Diridon Station to the San José Airport. This is the most cost-effective and expedient solution. Notably, this is $400+ million cheaper than one current proposed solutions.

What about the wind? The most advanced Doppelmayr/Garaventa 3S gondolas tolerate winds to 68 mph (110 kmh). This covers all but the windiest of days. The system would be shut down well before those wind velocities occur not because of safety but because people get motion sickness.

Who is this for? Ohlone Sky is for patients and visitors to Washington Hospital, school trips to Ardenwood, cyclists, students, professors, commuters and tourists to and from Treasure Island, travelers to the South Bay and beyond. It's for all of us. Bay to Sky.

Land acquisition. These routes occur over public roads and train tracks within the public right-of-way. Building within a right-of-way sigificantly reduces of the cost of acquiring land and minimizes community concerns. The Dumbarton Rail Corridor route uses a portion of the extant and non-operational Dumbarton Rail Corridor, public parks, and state property. The San Jose route occurs through the Guadalupe River Park. The San Francisco route occurs alongside the Bay Bridge, Yerba Buena and Treasure Island.

Tian Tan Buddha in Hong Kong by Joe Green

Tian Tan Buddha, Hong Kong. Source: Joe Green

How much will Ohlone Sky cost to build? Globally, these run $30-40 million per mile but vary widely due to largely due stations size and design. Any one of these routes could be completed within five years when funded.

How much will it cost to ride Ohlone Sky? The price has not been set yet but we imagine it will be on par with other connecting transit systems in the Bay Area. Accessible via Clipper and mobile payment options.

Two cable cars traveling during sunset by Tbel Abuseridze

Two cable cars traveling during sunset, Lisbon, Portugal. Source: Tbel Abuseridze

What about the PG&E transmission towers near the Dumbarton Bridge? The four westernmost PG&E Transmission Towers adjacent the Dumbarton Bridge when traveling east on the Dumbarton Bridge towards Fremont are: 91', 127', 83', and 100' from average sea level, respectively, and pose no issue to this alignment.

What is the current state of rail in the the Bay Area? CalUrbanist.com, by Steve Boland, publishes a comprehensive map of current Bay Area Rail systems.

What are some examples of gondolas and aerial trams? Locally, Oakland has the super cool Oakland Zoo Gondola which sports a six-county bird's-eye view over live oak trees, elephants, camels, and bison. San Francisco sports the super-short ride gondola to Salesforce Park from the street-level plaza at the Salesforce Transit Center. In Oregon, the Portland Aerial Tram connects South Waterfront to Marquam Hill with 10,000 daily riders. In Colorado, the Telluride Village Gondola "offers free, seasonal transportation for the public." Some consider it the most beautiful commute in the United States. For now. In New York, the Roosevelt Island Tramway connects the Upper East Side in Manhattan to Roosevelt Island. It was the first commuter aerial tramway in North America, opening in 1976.

What's a good blog on gondolas and aerial trams? The Gondola Project is an excellent resource for the latest proposals and openings around the globe.

When can I ride this? We can't ride this yet but we can certainly share our enthusiasm and with local, state, and federal officials and other interested parties to get this built.

Salt Flats

Salt Flats. Source: Mira Zaslove

Ohlone Sky


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