Events and Conferences

A Gondola to SFU?

May 11, 2011

Translink is currently holding public consultations about installing a gondola to move people from Production Way SkyTrain station to the Burnaby campus. The proposed gondola would cut travel time up Burnaby Mountain by half, and could transport 3000 or more people per hour.

If you’re interested in finding out more or providing feedback on this project, they would like to hear from you at one of their two upcoming public consultations:

  • May 25, 2011, 5-8 pm – Cameron Elementary School, 9540 Erickson Drive, Burnaby
    Project Presentations: 5:30 p.m. and 7 p.m.
  • May 26, 2011, 1–4 pm & 5–8 pm, Saywell Hall Atrium, SFU Burnaby Campus
    Project presentations: 1:30 pm, 3:30 pm, 5:30 pm and 7 pm

For additional details:

Update: January 12, 2012 (collected by SFU Public Affairs and Media Relations)
There was a flurry of news coverage as TransLink released Wednesday a business case for a gondola system to serve SFU Burnaby and UniverCity. (The business case is available as a PDF at

Among the media stories:

  • The Province:A TransLink study has concluded that it makes sense to install a gondola to replace the existing bus service up Burnaby Mountain to Simon Fraser University. “The study found that the overall cost over 25 years would be slightly higher than bus service, but the overall benefits would outweigh the extra cost.” Full story:
  • GlobalTV: “Students and staff at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby may have to wait a while longer for an alternative form of transportation up and down the mountain.On Wednesday TransLink released a report from CH2MHill, contracted by them to prepare a business case for the project.
    ‘The concept has considerable merit,’ TransLink said in a notice on their website, saying it will be considered as a candidate for a future strategic transportation plan.
    “The report found that ‘the gondola would generate substantial benefits to commuters and the region, estimated at 3.6 times its cost in dollar terms, but the cost to TransLink of building and operating it would be $12 million greater than continuing to serve the SFU campus by bus over the next 25 years.”
    Full story
  • Burnaby NewsLeader: “The report, by engineering consultants CH2MHill​, determined that a gondola project would cost $156 million to build and operate over 25 years compared to $144 million  for maintaining and expanding the current diesel bus operation. . . .
    “The benefits of a gondola project, including a reduction of at least 6,900 tonnes of  greenhouse gas emissions, travel time savings, reduction in vehicle use and its related operating and collision costs, were calculated as being valued at more than $500 million over 25 years.
    “A gondola system would also operate in a wide range of weather, including snow, which currently shuts down the bus system to Simon Fraser University for an average 10 days a year. Travel times would be cut from the current 15-minute bus trip to seven minutes between Production Way-University SkyTrain station and the SFU bus exchange.”
    Full story
  • CBC News: “It appears a plan to build an overhead cable-car gondola system heading up Burnaby Mountain to Simon Fraser University won't be happening any time soon. “A new report by the Lower Mainland transit authority TransLink shows there are many benefits to the proposal, but the gondola would cost about $12 million more over 25 years than sticking with bus service on the route.
    “Jeffrey Busby, TransLink's manager of infrastructure planning, said Wednesday that there still are benefits to justify the $120-million cost of the project. Busby said the gondola project could be included in future TransLink strategic planning.”
    Full story:
  • The Vancouver Sun:A gondola up Burnaby Mountain Simon Fraser University would save time but it would be more expensive to run than the buses now using the route. “A business case study, conducted for TransLink, shows that despite the benefits of running a cable car from Production Way station to the top of the mountain, the cost to build and operate a gondola would be about $12 million higher than continuing to serve the route by bus over the next 25 years.” Full story:
  • Gordon Price, director of SFU’s City Program, was on CKNW: “Gordon Price, an urban affairs expert with SFU, says that cost difference (between a gondola and buses) is negligible. “TransLink says the gondola idea can now be included in one of its upcoming transportation plans. Its plate right now, of course, is full. ‘You've got the Evergreen Line has to be built, Surrey certainly has major transportation priorities, there's the Broadway Line.’"
    “Among its benefits, Price says the gondola would offer students safer and more frequent transit.”
    Full story:
  • In a second interview on CKNW, Price said: “If you’re a student, I’d say the big advantage would be the frequency. Forty seconds, that’s how long you’d have to wait and then another cabin comes by.” Looking at costs, Price told host Philip Till: “It would be cheaper to run (than buses); still expensive to build. I think probably the real saving over time is you don’t have to expand that bus service.” Till raised the privacy and other concerns of residents lower down on Burnaby Mountain who are on or close to the recommended route. Said Price: “There would be some impacts and that’s going to have to be looked at. Probably there are ways to deal with that.”
  • Price was also in the Vancouver edition of 24Hours:‘I don't think the cost is really the issue. It's more where it is on the priority list,’ said Gordon Price, director of SFU's City Program. “‘From an economic point of view, it makes sense. It's not going to be a cost drain; the capital costs are offset against the savings that can be made and that only improves over time, given the need to increase service on Burnaby Mountain and the problem running buses up and down the hill.’” Full story on Page 5 of e-paper at
  • Metro’s Vancouver edition: “TransLink said the ‘gondola project has potential for inclusion in future strategic plans.’ However, it is not included in any existing plans. “A business case for the construction of the estimated $114-million project indicates a positive 3.6-to-1 benefit-to-cost ratio for the region.” Full story:
  • News1130 Radio:  “TransLink's Jeffrey Busby says for every dollar invested, the gondola would pay back $3.60. But it would also cost the transit authority $12 million over the next 25 years. “He says the Evergreen Line and service upgrades in Surrey and along Broadway come first. ‘We can't divert money from those existing commitments for this project, but if we were able to find that funding or that funding was made available to us by others then we'd consider bringing the project forward.’" Full story:
  • Maclean’s on campus:Many people supported the aerial alternative because winter weather often keeps buses from navigating the icy roads and because the gondola may be more environmentally friendly than buses. However, the gondola was opposed by some homeowners who would have lived underneath it.” Full story:
  • Atlantic Cities news website, based in Washington DC: “A proposed gondola service  . . . represents a clean, efficient and cost-effective transit service, according to a new business case analysis prepared by CH2M Hill last fall and released Wednesday by TransLink, the regional transportation authority. “But agency officials say they haven’t figured out how to finance the upfront capital costs—an estimated $120 million—as well as a $10 million differential in the long-term operating expenses, meaning the much-publicized project has yet to get a green light to replace an increasingly crowded shuttle bus service.” Full story:
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