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Friday, April 12, 2024

SFU gondola project moves forward with city council support

Burnaby city council has voted to continue the planning process for a gondola to SFU on Burnaby Mountain.

SFU is the biggest transit destination in Burnaby that is not on a SkyTrain line. Every weekday, TransLink carries approximately 25,000 passengers to and from the mountain. With the continued growth of campus and the UniverCity community, demand will continue to increase.

The mountaintop location of SFU also poses a challenge in winter weather. TransLink says transit service is “significantly delayed or interrupted” on approximately 10 days annually.

SFU gondola routes
Map of two possible routes for the gondola to SFU. Option #1 is the preferred route at this time.

A gondola would cut travel times from the current 15 minutes by bus to 6.5 minutes, and would be more reliable in inclement weather.

In addition, the gondola would have peak-hour departures every 34 seconds (as compared with every four or five minutes for the #145 bus service that currently links the mountain to the Production Way – University SkyTrain station)

A new TransLink feasibility study also highlighted several potential new benefits for the SFU gondola, including:

  • A gondola could provide an emergency evacuation route from the mountain if road access were cut off due to an incident at the tank farm (which is adjacent to the only two roads serving the campus).
  • The capacity of a gondola car would depend on the choice of supplier, but a 33-passenger car is considered feasible.
  • Towers would be 30 to 80 metres tall, and would typically have a footprint of 20 metres by 20 metres. Mid-span between towers, the gondola cars would typically be about 30 to 35 metres above the ground, to keep them above the trees.
  • Reduced noise and emissions, by eliminating route #145 which has fully-loaded diesel buses climbing an 8 per cent grade.
  • Increased resilience by creation of a third route off the mountain.

With Burnaby’s support of the gondola link to SFU, TransLink is now seeking senior government funding to continue the planning process to make the link a reality.

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Peter Meiszner
Peter Meiszner
Peter Meiszner is an experienced journalist and media relations professional, based in Vancouver. As founder of urbanYVR.com, he has been reporting on urban development across the Lower Mainland since 2016, and has also served as vice-chair of the Gastown Historic Area Planning Committee. In October 2022, he was elected to Vancouver city council and is no longer actively reporting for urbanYVR.

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