Metro announced December 6 that it has signed a Letter of Intent with Aerial Rapid Transit Technologies LLC (ARTT) to begin formal negotiations to develop a privately-funded aerial gondola from Dodgers Stadium to Union Station in Los Angeles.

“This is a critical milestone in developing an innovative and exciting way for Dodgers fans to get to the game while reducing traffic,” said Metro CEO Phillip A. Washington in a news release. “For the sixth year in a row, the Dodgers have led Major League Baseball in attendance and we want to keep that streak going by finding ways to make it more convenient to reach the stadium.”

With the intent letter signed, Metro says it will now move from the Unsolicited Proposals evaluation stage to project development. Metro and ARTT will now negotiate to reach agreements on roles and responsibilities for planning and constructing the gondola and figuring out where stations will go.

Aerial Rapid Transit Technologies LLC is a company founded by Drew McCourt, the son of former Dodgers own Frank McCourt

The Aerial Rapid Transit (ART) project is estimated to cost roughly $125 million and Metro says ARTT will provide the necessary funding for the mobility partnership and plans to obtain third party private financing for the construction of the ART system. ARTT says it is not seeking Metro funding for construction or operating costs for the proposed ART system between Union Station and Dodger Stadium. 

The proposed ART project will transport Dodger fans and visitors from Downtown Los Angeles to the Dodger Stadium property in five minutes. By landing at or near Union Station, the ART system will connect people to the region’s transportation hub, where they can connect to Metro’s Red, Purple, and Gold lines (and the future Regional Connector), Metrolink, Amtrak, bus, shuttle, and pedestrian connections at Union Station.

Project officials say the system will be a zero-emission and be able to move more than 5,000 people per hour per direction. The gondola cars are expected to carry between 30 and 40 passengers. If and when construction gets going, ARTT says the project will be in operation sometime in 2022.

A gondola and other options for improving access to Dodger Stadium were part of an informational study in 1990 by the Los Angeles County Transportation Commission, which later merged with the RTD to form Metro. The idea was never pursued until earlier this year when ARTT revived the concept and submitted an unsolicited proposal to Metro’s Office of Extraordinary Innovation.

Metro created its Unsolicited Proposals program in 2016 to encourage innovation through partnerships with the private sector that would not have occurred through the agency’s normal procurement process.

“This proposal is precisely the kind of out-of-the-box thinking we envisioned when we set up our Unsolicited Proposals process,” said Metro Chief Innovation Officer Joshua Schank in the news release. “By allowing potential partners to come to us with ideas and solutions, Metro has positioned itself to tap into the creativeness and ingenuity of private sector innovation.”