Urban Transit Gondola to Burnaby Mountain
With campuses in Burnaby, Vancouver and Surrey, Simon Fraser University has over 35,000 students, 1,000 faculty and 5,600 staff that travel between campuses on a regular basis. In addition to being a regional education and research hub, which draws commuters from across Metro Vancouver, Burnaby Mountain is home to a community of over 5,000 residents, soon to grow to over 9000.
An urban transit gondola to Burnaby Mountain is practical and affordable technology that can improve transportation across our region.
Current commuting challenges
Burnaby Mountain has among the worst performing bus routes in the region, creating some of the longest commute times in Canada for thousands of SFU students, faculty, staff, visitors, and residents.
At peak hours, commuters can see up to four full buses travel past them, doubling the length of their journey up and down the mountain. Bus service is ranked in the bottom ten per cent of routes in the region in terms of overcrowding, poor on-time performance and bus bunching.
- Approx. 25,000 bus trips per day
- 20 minutes or more waiting period
- 75% trips originate from beyond Burnaby
The SFU community and UniverCity residents also lack an alternate means to get on and off the mountain in the event of road closure due to snow, fire or another emergency.
Improving transit for the region
TransLink has confirmed that an urban transit gondola will provide better service for people across our region and is the most efficient and effective technology for meeting Burnaby Mountain’s unique transportation needs. More information can be found in TransLink’s feasibility study.
Transit gondola technology is used in cities around the world to provide reliable, high volume, sustainable public transportation. According to Translink’s study, a Burnaby urban transit gondola would carry as many as 3,000 people an hour and cut the ride time in half for commuters from Production Way. It would also free up 26 buses that could be used to service more suitable routes in Metro Vancouver, helping to meet the growing demand for public transit while providing a safe and secure alternative for the university community and UniverCity residents in the event of a road closure.
The economic benefit of the project is estimated to be 1.8 times the cost; the total projected cost is less than $197M; and it can be built within an 18-month construction window.
Better for the Environment
Translink predicts that Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions would be reduced by 7,000 tonnes annually, equivalent to taking 1,500 cars off the road.
- 50,000+ hours of diesel bus operations eliminated per year, reducing traffic noise, pollution, and congestion.
- A transit gondola system would better accommodate cyclists who are currently limited to two bicycles per bus.
With a relatively short construction time-frame and reasonable cost, this project could begin operating in our community within the next three years. A Burnaby urban transit gondola is identified as a planning project in TransLink’s Phase Two investment plan.
The Phase Two Investment Plan includes funding for further project planning work. This enables TransLink to advance the level of design, undertake further technical work, and conduct public and stakeholder consultation to evaluate community support for the gondola project. If this process results in a positive recommendation, local and regional governments grant approval, and funding is secured from federal and provincial sources, construction of a gondola system could then proceed.
Next steps for Translink and the City of Burnaby:
- Advance project planning and renew cost estimates
- Community consultations and stakeholder engagement
- Confirm infrastructure funding from the provincial and federal governments