There are two ways to go between Quebec City’s historic upper and lower sections (Haute-Ville and Basse-Ville). The first is by walking down (and up!) a series of steps and slopes. The final set of steps that take you to the main street in Basse-Ville has the ominous name of the Break Neck Steps, so you can guess that it is steep. Happily, there is also a funicular.
According to Wikipedia: “A funicular also known as an inclined plane or cliff railway, is a type of cable railway in which a cable attached to a pair of tram-like vehicles on rails moves them up and down a steep slope, the ascending and descending vehicles counterbalancing each other. Funiculars of one type or another have existed for hundreds of years, and they continue to be used for moving both passengers and goods.”
The funicular in Quebec City opened in 1879 and originally worked by water ballast propulsion. In 1907 it was converted to electric power. It burned in 1946 and was rebuilt. A series of renovations have kept it operational for 138 years. It is 210 feet long and rises 194 feet at a 45-degree angle — also pretty steep!
Coincidentally, my home town of Pittsburgh has two working funiculars, both connecting the south shore of the Monongahela River to the top of Mount Washington. The Duquesne Incline, originally steam powered, opened in 1877 and is 800 feet long, 400 feet high, and inclined at a 30-degree angle. The Monongahela Incline opened in 1870, and it is the oldest continually operating funicular in the USA. It is 635 feet long, 369 feet high, and inclined at a 35-degree angle. These inclines are operated by the Port Authority of Allegheny County, so are part of the mass transit system along with buses and light rail.
While walking and stair climbing is one way to go, funiculars are great time and (personal) energy savers, as well as a pretty neat bit of history.