SFU Gondola Project On Hold Even Though it Makes Sense

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Simon Fraser University students, faculty and staff hoping for an easier way to get up the mountain (especially during snow days) are out of luck. Yesterday TransLink released their findings for the SFU gondola project and the business case concluded that it makes sense to build a gondola up Burnaby Mountain to SFU and eliminate existing bus service. However, due to costs, it doesn’t make financial sense to proceed. Considering that TransLink isn’t exactly making huge profits these days, the shelving of the project seems justified. That’s why rate hikes are likely this time next year.

The following is from Buzzer Blog:

Although the business case for the gondola is favourable as far as benefits to commuters and the region (see section directly below), the gondola is not included in TransLink’s current strategic transportation plan. Currently, TransLink’s plan has approved funding for the Evergreen Line, transit service improvements across the region and increases in funding for road and cycling infrastructure (see Moving Forward supplemental plan). There is not approved funding at this time for the Burnaby Gondola Project. According to the business case, the gondola would cost $12 million greater than continuing to use buses to serve SFU on Burnaby Mountain over the next 25 years.

Key findings of the business plan in terms of implementing a gondola on Burnaby Mountain

  • Up to 1.6 million annual hours of travel time savings for current transit customers (half the travel time of taking the #145);
  • Reductions of up to $4.5 million per year in auto operating costs for commuters switching to transit, plus as much as $3.4 million in reduced collision costs;
  • A reduction of at least 6,900 tonnes in GHG emissions and reduced noise from reduced use;
  • Overall social and financial benefits are 3.6 times greater than costs;
  • Improved performance and service reliability in winter conditions.

In the end this was the right decision to make, because TransLink was wasting time fighting an uphill battle (pun intended). The City Of Burnaby wan’t really an advocate for the project and although it was gaining in popularity, the idea was still seen as a waste of money by most residents. It’s best they use their time on cities willing to work with them and get the ball rolling on the Evergreen Line.

Image: Buzzer Blog

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