Cover Story The Maokong Gondola
The Nation’s First Long-Distance Gondola: 2,364,682 People Realize Their Dreams of Flying by Taking the Maokong Gondola
The Maokong Gondola formally began operations on July 4, 2007, and the skyline of Taipei was now marked by new spectacular moving scenery. The Maokong Gondola is the first recreational cable-car system in Taipei City and the longest cable-car system in Taiwan with a length of 4.03 km. (The gondola in the Formosan Aboriginal Cultural Village is 2 km long, the gondola in Wulai is 0.38 km long, and the gondola in Hualien Farglory Ocean Park is 0.33 km long.) There are four stops along the way, with a complete ride taking from 17 to 20 minutes. Up to December 31, 2007, an equivalent of 2,364,682 people had taken the gondola ride. The Maokong Gondola has rapidly become one of the most popular tourist spots in Taiwan.
The Cradle in the Sky Rocks out a New Development for Maokong
The Maokong Gondola is located in Muzha, in Wenshan District in southern Taipei, a place famous for its “Iron Goddess of Mercy” tea. In the 1980s, the government promoted the development of leisure agriculture and established the “Muzha Tea Garden for Tourists”. As a result, Maokong became a new promised land with many local restaurants and tea houses offering tea of a special flavor and night scenery of Taipei to a continuous flow of tourists. In recent years, however, as many new tourist spots have been developed in the suburban areas of Taipei in response to the two-day weekend policy, Maokong had been gradually losing its appeal to tourists. To revive local businesses, improve the environment, solve the traffic problem, and improve the quality of leisure activities, the Taipei City Government implemented a major project for local development which changed the designation of preserved areas in both Zhinan Li and Laoquen Li of Wenshan to land for building constructions (i.e., construction of service facilities for leisure agriculture) and land for building parking lots, and the areas designated for development also underwent some changes. The Maokong Gondola is the major outcome of this project.
The construction of the Maokong Gondola was designed by the Department of Transportation of the Taipei City Government which is in charge of the system, and also determined the route. The New Construction Office of the Public Works Department of the Taipei City Government signed contracts with the Chunyuen Construction Co. Ltd and the POMA Company of France to separately build the required mechanical and electrical operating systems. The Maokong Gondola has adopted the single-cable ventilated cable-car system which is equipped with a high-transport quantity and low unit transport fee that prioritizes the function of leisure entertainment. This system is the most popular one for the newly constructed gondola sites. Each cable car can carry eight passengers and travels at the speed of six meters per second. The cable-cars are launched at a frequency of one per 12 seconds. Thus, at peak running times, the system can service 2,400 passengers per hour.
As for its route, the Maokong Gondola makes four stops along the way to its Maokong destination,including: Taipei Zoo Station, Taipei Zoo South Station, Zhinan Temple Station, and Maokong Station.There are also two corner stations. This route connects the Taipei Zoo, Zhinan Temple, and the Maokong area as a tourist area. The combination of “the MRT, the gondola, and on foot” provides a route without cars and without traffic jams; it eliminates the possibility of getting lost and does not increase air pollution from motorized vehicles which in turn helps preserve the charm of Maokong’s tea gardens and its sense of beauty. Moreover, the route of the gondola directs tourists traveling the MRT Muzha line and visiting the Taipei Zoo to the Maokong area, where they help revive local businesses and industries.