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Readers Are Mostly Comfortable With Small Arch Tram Capsules

August 16, 2017 Featured No Comments
Visitors must step up into the tram cars. They put this step out to help me but we ended up moving it out of the way.

Tram rides to the top of the Gateway Arch began just over fifty years ago, on July 24, 1967. A few weeks later, 50 years ago. yesterday, a najor malfunction occurred:

An eight-car tram is in the north leg of the Gateway Arch descended about forty feet from the observation gallery and stopped, trapping thirty-six passengers in semi-darkness. From 6:40 to 8:15P.M. the passengers waited calmly to be freed. Arch personnel moved the train back up to the observation deck with a winch. and passengers climbed out, descending the fifty-foot spiral staircase to the elevator halfway down the arch. The train ran no more that evening, and others waiting for a ride were given refunds. 

An even more harrowing entrapment occurred a few years later when a party of four was left in a capsule after the last tram was thought to have been vacated. The door of their capsule did not open and the trash was “parked” for the night. Lights in the Arch were extinguished and the air vents were shut off. Their screams went unheard, so one of the passengers, using a knife to pry open the catch, succeeded in getting the doors open. He climbed out on a foot-wide beam and helped the others across to the stairs and safety.

I’ve been up in the Arch twice in my 27+ years in St. Louis — once pre-stroke and once post-stroke. Getting into and out of the capsule was a challenge post-stroke, but I can’t imagine having to walk down a spiral stair. Though I’ve done so on the Texas Eagle train.

Thankfully, as part of all the work being done at the Arch the Trams were given a major update, this should ensure years of reliable service.

The results from the recent non-scientific Sunday Poll:

Q: Agree or disagree: I’m uncomfortable while riding the Arch tram due to the small capsules.

  • Strongly agree 5 [17.24%]
  • Agree 1 [3.45%]
  • Somewhat agree 5 [17.24%]
  • Neither agree or disagree 3 [10.34%]
  • Somewhat disagree 2 [6.9%]
  • Disagree 8 [27.59%]
  • Strongly disagree 4 [13.79%]
  • Not Applicable/Unsure/No Answer 1 [3.45%]

More who voted are comfortable. I’ll go up a 3rd time once all the work, museum, etc are finished.

— Steve Patterson

 

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