TransLink asks Burnaby city council to support gondola to SFU

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      Burnaby council is voting whether it wants a gondola in the city.

      Council has received staff advice recommending support for a gondola from one of the SkyTrain stations to SFU on Burnaby Mountain.

      “Simon Fraser University is the biggest transit destination in Burnaby that is not located on a SkyTrain line,” Ed Kozak, director of planning and building, wrote in a report.

      Kozak noted that of the 10 busiest bus stops in the city, “six provide service to SFU (either at the campus or at SkyTrain stations)”.

      “TransLink carries 25,000 passengers to or from the mountain every weekday,” the planning and building director reported. “Demand is expected to rise with continued growth of the campus and the UniverCity community.”

      Kozak also noted challenges during winter.

      “The combination of snow and steep grades can make provision of transit service to Burnaby Mountain difficult in the winter months,” he wrote. “Service is interrupted or significantly delayed on about ten days annually, sometimes necessitating the closure of the campus so that students and staff can evacuate before that day's transit service is cancelled.”

      A gondola is seen to provide better service.

      “In theory, this could provide shorter travel times, more frequent departures, greater winter reliability, and reduced noise and emissions,” Kozak said.

      According to Kozak, TransLink is asking city council to support the project in principle.

      In April last year, TransLink released a new feasibility study for the project.

      According to the study, the capital cost of developing a gondola from Production Way SkyTrain Station to SFU town square and transit loop has increased from the previous estimate of $114 million in 2011 to $197 million.

      Total annual operations and maintenance costs are estimated to be $4.1 million.

      A number of residents in neighbourhoods where the gondola may pass over have previously expressed concerns about the impacts of the project.

      Kozak’s report recommending support for the gondola is included in council’s agenda Monday (May 27).

      “In the absence of that support from Council, it is likely that TransLink would terminate the project,” Kozak wrote.