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65% of Burnaby residents support SFU gondola: TransLink survey

A proposed gondola that would link the Millennium Line and the SFU campus on Burnaby Mountain has vast support in Metro Vancouver
A computer rendering of the proposed gondola to Burnaby Mountain and SFU. TransLink photo

A proposed gondola between the Millennium Line and the SFU campus on Burnaby Mountain has vast support in Metro Vancouver, including nearly two-thirds support in Burnaby, according to a report from TransLink.

The regional transit authority reported 84% of the 12,955 survey participants in their engagement process were either supportive or very supportive of the project in general. That's compared to 65% in Burnaby and just 34% in Forest Grove, where the gondola route is proposed.

The engagement period ran throughout September, with an online survey, a virtual open house, a telephone townhall meeting and other forms of engagement.

TransLink estimates the gondola service would facilitate 25,000 daily trips by SFU students, staff and faculty, and UniverCity residents, with gondola cabins departing every minute.

Burnaby residents made up the largest portion of survey respondents, at 35%, with 20% living in Vancouver, 15% in the Tri-Cities area, 10$ in Surrey, 5% in New Westminster and the remainder spread out throughout the region.

Survey respondents were asked to rank the issues in terms of importance when considering the proposed gondola, and the top-five in Metro Vancouver and Burnaby both were: safety and security, all-weather service and travel reliability, connecting Burnaby Mountain to rapid transit, reducing greenhouse-gas emissions and pollution, and improving frequency and travel time compared to current bus service.

gondola routes burnaby mountain
These are the three routes proposed for the Burnaby Mountain gondola service between SFU and the Millennium Line. - TransLink

Those were followed by minimizing impacts to environmentally sensitive areas, providing an additional route up the mountain in case of a major incident, maximizing access to key destinations up on the mountain, and finally, minimizing impacts to residents living near the gondola.

TransLink also asked survey respondents to rank from zero to five their support for the project, with zero being not at all supportive and five being very supportive. Throughout Metro Vancouver, 72% said they were very supportive (5), compared to just 6% saying they were not at all supportive (0).

The average response throughout Burnaby was 3.93, compared to 4.57 in UniverCity. In Forest Grove, which the gondola would travel over, the support drops to 2.22.

In its report on the engagement, TransLink said it has been studying options to improve transit service up and down the mountain, noting that, during peak hours, it’s common for up to four full buses to pass by commuters. On top of that, current buses can often have difficulties getting up the mountain in winter weather conditions.

TransLink has proposed three routes for the gondola, including two departing from the Production Way-University SkyTrain station and ending up at the SFU bus exchange and a third that starts at Lake City Way station and ends near the SFU transportation centre.

TransLink said it is preparing for a second round of engagement, which will focus on the three proposed routes, and staff will consider feedback from both rounds of engagement before presenting final recommendations to the board of directors and Mayors’ Council.

Follow Dustin on Twitter at @dustinrgodfrey

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