About Burnaby Mountain Gondola

19 Aug 2020

The Burnaby Mountain Gondola would provide a fast, frequent, and reliable service between the SkyTrain and Burnaby Mountain. A gondola offers more frequent service for our customers, can move more people per hour than other modes of transportation, reduces greenhouse gases (GHGs) and other emissions, and has lower operating costs.

For most of the year, 25,000 trips are made up and down the mountain daily — for school, work, business, and recreation. In addition, the residential community of UniverCity has a population of roughly 5,200 residents and that number is expected to nearly double in the next four years.

The gondola would help to address today’s transit challenges and allow us to better meet future demand. Currently, passengers travelling from Production Way–University to Burnaby Mountain often experience unpredictable travel times, with frequent pass-ups, adding 5-30 minutes to what should be a 15-minute trip. A new gondola would provide consistent, year-round and all-weather travel times of between 6 and 11 minutes, depending on the route selected. With frequent service, wait times for a cabin on a new gondola would be approximately one minute.

Existing transit service is unable to meet the future demand. The proposed gondola would provide enough capacity for the next 30 years as student enrollment, employment, and residential populations at SFU steadily grow. Between 2017 and 2050 student enrollment and employment will grow between 1-2% every year and the residential population will double.


Burnaby Mountain – Population Projections (2035, 2050)
It would also contribute to meeting TransLink’s sustainability target by reducing fleet emissions by 80 per cent by 2050 and operating a fleet with 100 per cent renewable energy by 2050. Altogether, the implementation of a gondola system on Burnaby Mountain could result in a reduction of up to 1,900 tonnes of GHG emissions and eliminate air pollution from buses. The gondola presents a rapid transit solution that is both environmentally friendly and cost effective.

The ongoing pandemic has reduced demand for transit service to Burnaby Mountain as students, staff, and faculty have studied and worked from home. While it may seem that online learning becomes the norm, over the course of the last 10 years that SFU has been offering online classes this has not been the case. Once it is safe to return to the classroom setting students will return to SFU campuses, and demand for transit will increase.


Benefits

  • Fast and frequent: Cabins would arrive about every minute during peak periods, carrying more people up the mountain per hour than our current bus system (3,000 vs 1,400) and in about half the time.
  • Reliable: Gondolas operate within their own dedicated system providing consistent travel times – no road congestion or wintery road conditions to worry about.
  • Safe: The 3S gondola system can operate in high winds (up to 100 km/hr), in winter conditions, and helps to protect against vandalism with three cables supporting the system instead of one.
  • Environmentally friendly: Gondolas run on electricity helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (by 96%) and eliminate air pollution.
  • Cost-effective: It would require about 30% less in annual operating costs than current bus service.
  • Flexible: As the population grows, a gondola is flexible and can have new cabins added with relative ease further avoiding congestion on the roads.

Gondola in Voss Norway going up a mountainVoss, Norway

Other Urban Gondolas Worldwide

While not common in Canada, gondola systems are a proven technology with more than 20,000 ropeway systems worldwide. Increasingly, many transit providers around the world are adopting urban gondola systems as a means of efficient and environmentally friendly public transportation. For example, the system in Voss, Norway, has nearly 25,000 trips on an average day, and the system in Koblenz, Germany, has more than 91,000 trips per day. Gondola systems also serve commuters in New York, London, and Mexico City. Here on the West Coast, the Portland Aerial Tram opened in 2006 and carries over 10,000 passengers a day.

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