A gondola lift is a type of aerial lift, which consists of a loop of steel cable that is strung between two stations, preferably over intermedate supporting towers. The cable is driven by a bullwheel in the terminal, which is connected to an engine, which is usually electric.
An example of a gondola lift
Passenger cabins, which can hold between 4 and 14 people, are connected to the cable by means of spring-loaded grips. These grips allow for the cabin to be detached from the moving cable and slowed down in the terminals, to allow passengers to board and disembark. Cabins are driven through the terminals either by rotating tires, or by a chain system. To be accelerated to and decelerated from line speed, cabins are driven along by progressivly faster (or slower) rotating tires until they reach terminal or line speed.
Another type of gondola lift is the bi-cable gondola, which has one other stationary cable, besides the main haul rope, that helps support the cabins. Examples of this type of lift include the Cable Car in Singapore and the Banff Gondola in Alberta, Canada. There are also tri-cable gondolas that have two stationary cables that support the cabins.