a cable car would reduce access
At every turn, in words and pictures and posts, the Mount Wellington cable car company argues that the mountain, frequently and frustratingly—especially when it is most desirably cloaked in snow—is "closed" whereas a cableway would provide "all-year, all-weather" access. Would it?
The only reason that a cable car is being considered at all is because the community and the Wellington Park’s managers are open to considering alternative to the existing access transport modes. Inherent in this is a view that the existing mode is not entirely satisfactory.
What does “better access” mean? Is it to be judged by speed, passenger volume, ease, cost, quality or what?
No cableway could offer better access to the entire Mountain than the roadway. Not only has the roadway infinite stop-offs, day and night open hours, almost never (fully) closed for maintenance, and an inconsequential cost, its load-carrying capacity is higher.
At peak need, how many people can the cable car carry? "Expect queues" warns the MWCC when perfect conditions coincide with public holidays. Users would queue for carpark space, queue for tickets—if they can get tickets—queue for the cablecar, queue in the cafe, and when it’s time to return expect to queue—and even longer delays.
last Man standing
Cable car supporters argue that a cable car would provide better access for people with mobility difficulties and very elderly mountain-lovers who, it is said, can no longer reach the summit, but would dearly love to. The idea that every singe person (The Last Man argument) regardless of infirmity must be obliged was repudiated by one of its intended. Christopher Spiegel “once enjoyed roaming far and wide across the mountain but [is] now disabled and growing more elderly by the hour” nevertheless “I would not like to see what I once enjoyed destroyed for a quick trip to the top. I would prefer never to have the chance to see it again rather than have that treasure taken from my grandchildren.” (Mercury (15/11/18) What son, what daughter, would not carry in their own arms if necessary, an ailing grandfather who desired to be one last time high in the mountains?
The challenge for any alternative mode—especially a cable car with all its manifold negative impacts—is to provide a more sustainable alternative access than the roadway. If it can’t, its case collapses. This raises a further issue. The cable car is an alternative to the road and to the foot, but what other alternatives are there? There are many. Electric buses. Electric bikes. Cog railways. Vernaculars. How do they compare? No one knows.