Letter to Jeff Bezos: Let’s Talk Gondolas
Dear Mr. Bezos,
You seem like a fairly thick-skinned gentleman, so no doubt you will keep smiling through the “Behind the Amazon.com smile” series from the Seattle Times. But Mr. Bezos–Jeff, may I?–consider your PR team. They are sensitive people. Haul one in and examine him or her for signs of stress this week, and I am sure you will see they are looking a little ragged. Sort of like a warehouse worker. Ha! No, I kid. We have fun.
Help us to help you help them, Jeff. The Times makes a big deal of your alleged anti-philanthropy stance. Philanthropy, schmilanthropy. You know what philanthropy is? Let me speak frankly: Getting something done because the other assholes aren’t doing it. You think Andrew Carnegie meant to build homeless shelters? No, he was investing in technology. It happened to be information technology shaped like a building, but there it is.
Let’s talk gondolas, Jeff. Cable-fucking-driven gondolas. You know why? Because the other assholes aren’t doing it. There you are in your new South Lake Union digs, central to everything, all wired up, and every day your employees are sardined into the #8 bus, which during commute times is traveling at less than walking speed. You can’t buy a condo in SLU anymore, so the best they can do for proximity is Belltown, Queen Anne, or Capitol Hill.
I don’t need to tell the man who runs Amazon about logistics. This situation isn’t going to improve on its own. Plus, you’re expanding from SLU to your new Denny parcel. More stress on that godawful Denny, and there’s no conventional solution. More buses would just stack up in traffic, and the city will never find the cojones to allocate a bus-only rush-hour lane.
I’m not an engineer, Jeff. But I think I share your interest in disruptive technology. And when it comes to the constraints, or guiding forces, of this particular situation, I am betting that you, like me, will come to the conclusion that the solution here is gondolas. Ask the Gondola Project. They’ll tell you. Cable-propelled aerial transit. It’s like a super-low-orbit space elevator, without the space and orbit. But the elevator part, that’s right on–an elevator that moves transversely. Lateral thinking, Jeff.
Now I admit, just as the Seattle Transit Blog says, “most people find the idea of urban aerial trams and gondolas far fetched.” That’s why this is a letter to Jeff Bezos, Jeff. Far-fetched is up your alley. Take this gondola-ball and run with it, and all your philanthropy problems will melt away, while you stay right on brand: Amazon is the company that is futurewise. It’s not like no one else does private transit: Boeing has for years, Microsoft’s Connector keeps expanding, even the Hutch and Children’s run their own fleet.
But fleets of what, Jeff? Buses. You will have gondolas. Which is going to end up on the evening news around the world? Buses or a new gondola system? I think you know that answer to that. Fucking gondolas will, Jeff. People will line up for that.
You don’t have to be out there alone on this. I know you could, you don’t give a shit. But run it past Paul Allen at your next billionaires’ brunch. Paul gets transit. Better, he gets that the rest of us get transit much more quickly if he visits City Hall to tell them, Guess what, I’m putting my own goddamn train down Westlake, bitches.
Talk out the financing. Great thing about gondolas, they’re not as expensive as other transit options. They’re the door-desk of transit, Jeff.
Philanthropy is just a way to do something transformative politely, Jeff. “Watch as I philanthropize,” you say, and then everyone claps. What do you care? You got the shit done that needed to be done. Step into a gondola, whisk yourself away. “I’m riding on a Be-zos line,” you can hum, to Berlin. (You like Berlin, I feel it.) The SLU station can be called The Amazone. “Ama” for heart, Jeff. You feel like making history again?
UPDATE: A reader reminds me of this much more serious and less profanity-laden post about the prospect of South Lake Union-spanning gondolas, by Matt Roewe on CityTank. Good news, Jeff! Roewe estimates the cost for the project could be just $75 million.