A proposed $70-million transit gondola to serve SFU’s Burnaby Mountain campus and replace the fleet of buses that now carry students, staff and residents will go out to the public for comment later this month.
TransLink spokesman Ken Hardie said a business case found the gondola project should be economically viable but cautioned it’s far too early to say if it will proceed.
“The folks who live underneath the proposed alignment are concerned, so we need to talk to them and hear what they have to say,” he said.
TransLink will meet with a strata council and co-op that run two housing complexes under the line where residents are worried about privacy and property values.
They also plan community open houses May 25 from 5 to 8 p.m. at Cameron Elementary School in Burnaby, and May 26 from 1 to 4 and 5 to 8 p.m. at Saywell Hall Auditorium at SFU.
“The impacts or interests are different depending on where you are in the community,” Hardie said.
TransLink estimates an SFU gondola could carry passengers to the top of Burnaby Mountain in half the time buses now take, and much more reliably in winter, when buses are delayed 12 to 15 days due to snow or ice.
It would eliminate long lineups at bus loops in peak times, a problem that is forecast to get worse as the projected daily trips climb from 25,000 now to 40,000 by 2030.
Hardie said the gondola would be powered by electricity, which would be quieter and less polluting than the diesel buses that now climb the hill.
An estimated 1,870 tonnes of greenhouse gases would be eliminated per year from the outset.
It’s also thought the gondola may be a tourist attraction, bringing in more hikers and mountain bikers.
The 2.6-kilometre line would use technology similar to the Peak 2 Peak gondola at Whistler.