Gondola planned for Burnaby Mountain

gondolamap

The proposed gondola route would be from Production Way SkyTrain station near Gagliardi and Lougheed Highway to the transit loop at SFU campus.

About 18 months ago Gordon Harris was watching the news and the proverbial light went on above his head.

The Simon Fraser University Community Trust CEO had his interest piqued by a story about the Peak 2 Peak gondola system between Whistler and Blackcomb mountains.

“Why couldn’t you do that on Burnaby Mountain,” he asked.

He thought it would be a terrific way to relieve the congestion on buses between the Production Way SkyTrain station and SFU’s transit loop beside UniverCity, the development the SFU Trust is in charge of.

The trust’s concept is for a $68.9 million project that would require five towers with the gondolas running above the trees. Harris said a gondola transit system would improve reliability and travel times, as well as reduce the greenhouse gas emissions produced by the diesel buses that run up and down the mountain.

Harris said the capital cost is also feasible since eventually TransLink will need to spend $50 million, he estimates, just on replacing the buses needed to go up to SFU, and the operating cost for the system would be $3.14 million annually compared to the $6 million it costs to run the buses.

Project Fast Facts

• During peak hours buses depart every 90 seconds between Production Way SkyTrain station and SFU; Gondolas can leave as quickly as every 15 seconds.

• In ideal conditions it takes buses 14 minutes to get to SFU; the gondola will take six.

• Two-thirds of SFU students and use transit to get to the university and 40 per cent of UniverCity residents do as well.

• It is expected the 19,000 who currently travel to SFU daily will increase to 37,500 by 2030

• On approximately 10 days each year, bus service to SFU is either severely hampered or cancelled due to weather conditions, impacting as many as 20,000 rider trips for each day of impacted service.

• Loading and unloading of the Burnaby Mountain gondola would be universally accessible due to the very low speeds in the terminal buildings and a level threshold with no step, and gondola cabins would be outfitted with flip seating to accommodate wheelchairs, strollers and bikes.

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