Thursday, November 25, 2010

Urban Cable Transit – The Future Transport Mode in Cities?

So far Cable Propelled Transit (CPT) has only been used for crossing natural obstacles – valleys, steep slopes or wide rivers. But the obvious advantage of going over artificial obstacles like junctions, congested streets and buildings is left unused partly due to undeveloped technology, partly by sticking to conventional transport modes and not willing to develop a new one.
Some South American cities have succeeded in using gondolas as feeders to main metro stations from the poor neighborhoods on the hills. The technology used is the same standard one used in ski resorts – but anyway it proves that cables can be used also outside mountains.
You can find out more about current technology (what is MDG, BDG, Funitels, 3S, what is detachability, what are approximate costs and capacity) here: 

High capacity urban CPT (if once developed) would have a great use in Riga as the soil conditions has turned off the deep underground project, also the building density in central part is high and streets narrow, there are several water bodies in the city – biggest obstacle being the 400m wide river Daugava. Maybe one day it will be reality to travel on easy-to-build gondola lines above the cities rather than trains in tunnels deep below the street level.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Riga to Oslo ticket prices

Riga to Oslo is one of two routes from the Baltic States served by four airlines (the second being Riga-Moscow). While Riga has only one airport, Oslo area is covered by three airports: the primary Gardermoen airport (used by Air Baltic and Norwegian), secondary Rygge/Moss airport (used by Ryanair) and Sandefjord-Torp airport located more than 100km from Oslo, but convenient for area South-West of Oslo and chosen by Wizzair.
The biggest carrier on the route is Air Baltic accounting for 51% of capacity share and – as using smaller aircraft than others – 68% of frequency share. Closest runner-up is Norwegian with 19% of capacity and 14% of frequency. Ryanair offers 18% of capacity and 11% of frequency while Wizzair 12% of capacity and only 7% of flights as offering only two departures per week.

Fare graphs indicates two price peaks – one on Oslo-Riga route on December 15 to 23 and the second on Riga – Oslo route on January 1 to 5. This strongly suggests that during Christmas time flights are used by Latvian workers visiting their families. Each of the airlines tries to differ from the others – Air Baltic and Norwegian provides connecting flights and uses the primary airport, Air Baltic offers big number of departures. Ryanair targets price-sensitive passengers and population South-East fro Oslo, Wizzair relies less on Oslo city but caches passengers South-West from Oslo. Here you can see how well the airlines manage to translate their strategies into cash from tickets:
Edited Nov21 - I found an official confirmation that Air Baltic's EUR 5 transaction fee can be avoided by using Baltic Miles MasterCard so ticket prices in the research are lowered by EUR 5 and five euro surcharge to usual Visa and MasterCard is added.
The average fares in the two-month span (November 18 to January 17) are as follows: Ryanair – EUR 29, Wizzair – EUR 37, Norwegian – EUR 74, Air Baltic EUR 81 EUR 77. Prices for Air Baltic and Norwegian are extremely similar and they even peak at the same days indicating that the two companies compete for the same passengers. Less successful are the two youngest operators - Ryanair and Wizzair. Booth started the service over seven month ago but tickets are still extremely cheep and are not coming significantly more expensive closer to the flight dates. On the other hand during Christmas period Wizzair has as high prices as Air Baltic and Norwegian showing that their strategy of targeting specific region near Oslo works. Overall it is clear that the ticket prices for Riga – Oslo route is low due to the high supply and some operators (Ryanair and Wizzair in particular) may even drop it.