Helicopters shuttle stranded tram passengers

Posted: Friday, July 20, 2001

JUNEAU (AP) -- About 60 cruise ship passengers had to be flown off Mount Roberts in helicopters Thursday after electrical problems shut down the tramway that runs from the docks up 1,800 feet to the ridge.

The tram shut itself down about 2:30 p.m., said David Goade, executive vice president for Goldbelt Inc., which owns the Mount Roberts Tramway.

The tram cars were a foot or two from the docking station when the tram stopped, so all the passengers were able to get off, Goade said.

The bigger problem was getting cruise ship passengers back to their ships before the boats sailed away. He estimates 400 people were on the mountain when the tram stopped. Many were from the Royal Caribbean's Vision of the Seas, which was scheduled to set sail at 4 p.m.

Goldbelt called in ERA helicopters to shuttle people down five or six at a time to a site just south of the docks. Buses took them to their ship.

The tram resumed carrying people at about 4 p.m.

Electrical problems have cropped up a couple times in the last month and Goldbelt is trying to hire an expert in tram electrical systems, Goade said.

''The system that trams utilize is very sophisticated and there aren't many of them in the world,'' Goade said. ''Obviously we don't want these kind of problems.''

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