Riding the Maokong Gondola

Maokong Gondola in Taipei City

I finally took a ride on the Maokong Gondola (貓空纜車) today, a week after the official opening. I had earlier been on two exploratory visits before the cable cars began operating.  Unlike the first day where Prince Roy reported long queues I only had to wait for around 20 minutes. 

A number of minor problems were reported on the system's first day of operations. Yesterday the cable car system was shut down for five hours as a result of a lightning strike. An opinion piece in the Taipei Times says problems with the system result from poor management planning.  

Another major problem people have focused on is the heat in the cabins. There is no air-conditioning or active ventilation system in the cabins. I guess they were originally designed for use in the mountains of Europe rather than the sub-tropical environment of Taipei.

Riding the gondola in the middle of the day it was quite hot inside and the ventilation not very good. Sitting at the front of the cabin right next to the main vent it is OK, but elsewhere not so good. I suggest that all the cabins need to be refitted with additional vents or perhaps more windows that open, but are covered with some sort of screen for safety purposes. 

The cabins have a PA system and if the system slows down or stops an announcement is made. However, the announcements were in Mandarin only.  

Overall my impression of the system was very good. The ride was smooth and there were no other problems. There were plenty of staff on hand to give assistance. Passengers seemed to be have no problem embarking and disembarking from the gondolas.

A brief photo essay follows.

View of Zoo Mall and Maokong Gondola Taipei Zoo Station from Taipei Zoo MRT Station

View from the Taipei Zoo MRT Station towards the Taipei Zoo Gondola Station. It is only about 300 metres walk to the Gondola Station. The Zoo Mall that occupies the middle space is designed to syphon money from the wallets of parents taking their children to visit the zoo or travel on the cable cars.

Ticket machines in the Maokong Gondola Taipei Zoo Station

The Maokong Gondola is managed by the Taipei MRT and employs the same ticketing system. These ticket machines are currently being phased out of MRT Stations in favour of the new IC token system. I guess they thought they could find a continuing use for some of the older ticket machines. I suggest that you have an Easy Card (悠遊卡) to avoid wasting time purchasing tickets.

Passenger disembarks from the Maokong Gondola at Taipei Zoo Station

A passenger disembarks at Taipei Zoo Station.  

Maintenance station on the Maokong Gondola in Taipei City

This station is actually for maintenance purposes. Passengers cannot board the gondola here.

View along the Maokong Gondola

Although there are some good views of Taipei City, the gondola travels over green forest almost the whole way.  

View of Muzha in Taipei from the Maokong Gondola

This is the view of Muzha (木柵). It shows that there is a lot of green space in this part of Taipei.  

Maokong Gondola Station of the cable car system in Taipei City

Maokong Station — tea houses and hiking trails await. As it was the middle of the day and extremely hot I only spent a short time in Maokong before catching the gondola back again.

I'd like to go back and ride the gondola again soon, but maybe on a day when the weather is cooler and suitable for hiking. And I would also like to take a ride at night as I am sure the view of Taipei City's lights is quite wonderful.  

More photos at flickr

7 thoughts on “Riding the Maokong Gondola

  1. Looks pretty cool. I took the Tien Tien Buddha gondola recently, I hope that the rain abates so that I can take a ride and compare.

  2. I agree about the heat of the gondola cars–I thought the same thing when I rode it, but neglected to get that in my post. I did mention the lightning, though. I hope we can make a trip up together sometime. A hike (followed by a long spell in a teahouse) would be a great way to spend the day.

  3. They should really have made the gondolas open, or at least with larger windows. That lightly tinted brown plexiglass is annoying to photograph through. It’s so frustrating to feel the light wisps of cool mountain air coming in through the tiny vents — it’s cool outside, just baking inside the gondolas.

    The woman I came down the mountain with was seriously ready to chuck…and I overheard staff saying that there have been a few incidents on opening day with those overcome with nausea.

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