Huntsville Hospital Tram System

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Huntsville Hospital Tram System
Huntsville Hospital Tram System.jpg
Locale Huntsville, AL, U.S.A.
Transit type People mover
Number of stations 4
Began operation 2002-06-19[1]
Operator(s) Huntsville Hospital System
System length 1,890 feet (580 m)[2]
Track gauge concrete guideway

The Huntsville Hospital Tram System is an automated people mover system located as part of the Huntsville Hospital System complex in Huntsville, Alabama, United States. Operating on a 1,890-foot (580 m) concrete guideway, the trams serve to connect the Huntsville Hospital with the Huntsville Hospital for Women & Children.[3] At the time of completion, this was the second hospital people mover system in the United States after the Duke University Medical Center Patient Rapid Transit.[4] As of January 2010, this is the only automated people mover system completed in the state of Alabama.[3]


Developed by Poma-Otis Transportation Systems, a joint venture of Poma and the Otis Elevator Company, and constructed by Brasfield & Gorrie, the two-car "Hovair" (hovertrain) system was completed at a final cost of $10.9 million.[1][5] The two 1,890-foot (580 m) concrete guideways are elevated 30 feet (9.1 m) above the surface.[6] Costing $280,000 annually to operate, the Huntsville Hospital Tram System handles approximately 2,200 passengers per day.[7]

The vehicles were designed by the Gangloff company of Switzerland.[4] Each car can handle three seated and 38 standing passengers. Additionally, each car was designed to accommodate the largest bed in use by the hospital for the transport of patients.[4]

The system runs in an east-west direction between the main Huntsville Hospital building and the Huntsville Hospital for Women & Children with intermediate stops at the Plaza Resource Center and the Franklin Medical Tower.[3] The system offers two separate modes for reaching the various stations, a Local Mode and an Express Mode. The Local Mode makes all four stops, primarily traveling along the northern track The Express Mode only travels between the two termini, primarily along the southern track.[3]


The idea of developing a tram system for Huntsville Hospital was initially proposed in mid-1997.[8] The tram was proposed as a solution to both parking issues and to allow for easier connectivity between the separate buildings of the sprawling hospital campus.[8] Additionally, the consolidation and transformation of the former Humana Hospital with Huntsville Hospital in 1994 made the development of the tram necessary in an effort to eliminate duplicate services and provide for easy transport of patients and doctors from each facility.[2]

By December 1998, plans for the system moved forward after gaining approval of several property variances from the Huntsville Board of Zoning Adjustment to allow for its construction.[9] By early 2000 construction of the system would commence, with an initial opening slated for summer 2001.[2] However, due to delays and the need for enhanced security along the system in the wake of the September 11 attacks, the system would not open until June 19, 2002.[1][4]

By 2004, use of the tram resulted in the elimination of approximately 4,500 annual ambulance trips and the use of two full-time shuttle vans between the two main facilities.[10] Due to this reduction in the number of vehicle trips made, Huntsville Hospital was awarded a 2004 Industrial Air Pollution Control Achievement Award from the city of Huntsville Air Pollution Control Board.[10]


  1. ^ a b c Staff Reporters (June 20, 2002). "Huntsville Hospital says, `All aboard'". The Huntsville Times. p. B1. 
  2. ^ a b c Faulk, Kent (October 2, 2000). "Expanding Huntsville Hospital adds on in effort to be regional center". The Birmingham News. 
  3. ^ a b c d Huntsville Hospital System, Huntsville Hospital - Tram Information, retrieved January 4, 2010 
  4. ^ a b c d Kesner, Kenneth (December 2, 2001). "Hospital's transportation system back on track". The Huntsville Times. p. A15. 
  5. ^ Broder, Matthew (December 2, 1999). "Poma-Otis to install people movers in Alabama and Minnesota". PR Newswire. 
  6. ^ Brasfield & Gorrie, Huntsville Hospital People Mover, archived from the original on 2006-11-10, retrieved January 5, 2010 
  7. ^ Venter, Michael S., Integrating Complexes Horizontally: The Huntsville Hospital APM 
  8. ^ a b Windsor, Shawn (July 23, 1997). "Elevated tram may link two hospitals". The Huntsville Times. p. A1. 
  9. ^ Nunley, Deana (December 16, 1998). "Plans under way for hospital `people mover'". The Huntsville Times. p. B2. 
  10. ^ a b Staff Reporters (September 19, 2004). "Companies recognized for control of pollution". The Huntsville Times. p. 2D.