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Gondolas are a craft whose main purpose is to transport civilians around the city of Columbia. Most gondolas move along heavy steel cables and are controlled by levers. When moving, the cables do not appear to actually support the craft for much of its journey and seem to act more as guides for it. This allows for a much simpler control system. Given their behavior, gondolas make use of Lutece Particle technology to provide locomotion and stability while moving. Some have control systems powered by Shock Jockey, but the craft themselves do not seem to be powered by it.
The gondola's main deck of has a small cabin at each end and the center portion is a plain wooden deck where passengers board and disembark. The cabins have doors on them and an interior which could be used during inclement weather to provide cover. The door to one of the cabins is often, but not always, locked. In this cabin, there is a simple control lever which when pulled causes the gondola to start moving to its destination. On top of the cabins is a smoke stack which seems to be there only for decorative purposes. The lower section of the hull is virtually a duplicate of the one used on the Cargo Barge, and have what appear to be portholes in it. There is no known way to access this lower area. Like the cargo barge, gondolas mount a metal framework that seems to have been installed to protect the hull in case of a collision. Attached to the hull are four very large rollers which the gondola rests on while not in motion. When gondolas travel up or down a steep cable, the rear rollers cease to have contact with the cables and the craft is guided by the front set of rollers. As with the cargo barge, there are no obvious means of propulsion for the gondola.
Gondolas serve as a method of transportation for Booker and Elizabeth during the game. Often the pair will have to fight a battle to get to a gondola or perform a task to get the gondola to work. Gondola trips give the two characters an opportunity to talk without being interrupted or to observe something of importance.
- Main article: BioShock Infinite
There are three variants of the standard gondola seen in-game. The first of these is the gondola used by the Barbershop Quartet early in the game. This gondola is a free floating craft that is not mounted on cables and lacks the large rollers seen on the normal version. It is not known if this gondola is piloted by a person or an automaton. Another free-ranging variant is seen at the dock of the Monument Island Gateway. This variant lacks a cabin at the bow, and has a automaton in its place which serves as the craft's pilot. It tells anyone attempting to use the gondola that they have to use the Sky-Line to get to Monument Island. As with the Barbershop Quartet variant, this craft lacks the large rollers on the underside of the hull. A third variant is the “Fireworks Gondola" seen at Raffle Square. This free-ranging craft is significantly longer than a normal gondola and mounts a Gun Automaton on its bow. Access to the rear cabin is blocked by crates so it cannot be entered by the player. The Gun Automaton apparently was put in place to provide security for the craft’s cargo of fireworks and likely acts as the craft’s pilot.