Austin, Texas, could employ urban air tram to reduce congestion, pollution

In recent articles, we've looked at some of the efforts undertaken by U.S. cities to improve their public transit systems while also reducing pollution and power expenditure. This goal has the potential to yield metropolitan areas both ecological and economic benefits, and a recent announcement from the government of Austin, Texas, suggests that the Lone Star State capital will be taking energy efficiency to new heights – literally.

According to the architectural news source Co.DESIGN, local leaders are in talks with Frog Design, an international engineering firm, about a proposal that would see air trams connecting some of Austin's busiest areas. Known as the Wire, the initiative would avoid the traditionally huge costs associated with building a subway or light rail network by erecting a series of high-tension wires throughout the city. Aerial cars would then travel from stop to stop at specially-designed access towers.

The idea was unveiled during a technology conference in San Francisco. Speaking to the source about the proposal, Frog senior designer Michael McDaniel said that one of the first benefits of the project would open up travel for residents in areas that are currently isolated by Austin's aging bus system.

"Part of the Wire concept is to circumvent [the] real estate issue by cheaply flying over the real estate, allowing more access to areas that other modes of transit simply cannot provide for the same costs," McDaniel told Co.DESIGN. "Once you couple that type of core circulator with an Amsterdam-style city bike program, under single fare, you get a door-to-door transit system that is implementable today."

McDaniel added that, although the design is still in its infancy, it could be part of a multi-tiered process aimed at reducing traffic and pollution congestion in the metro area. Based on how intriguing and potentially beneficial this initiative is, let's hope that Frog Design is given the chance to prove this system's worth.

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