TransLink is reporting it received a flood of public input on its proposal to build the SFU Burnaby Mountain public transit line.
Last week, during a Mayors’ Council meeting, TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond said over 10,000 survey responses were submitted to the public transit authority during the online public consultation period held throughout September.
In contrast, in 2019, TransLink saw over 21,000 survey responses for the Surrey-Langley SkyTrain project, and nearly 32,000 survey responses for the Transport 2050 planning process.
“We were very pleased with the volume of responses that exceeded our internal goals,” said Desmond, adding that “early indications are a pretty favourable response” in support of the gondola.
The public transit authority will analyze and interpret the information before bringing back the results to the City of Burnaby, Simon Fraser University, other stakeholders, and the Mayors’ Council later this year or early in 2021. Burnaby City Council will use the findings to determine its route preference.
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This phase of public consultation for the project sought feedback on three shortlisted routes the gondola could take.
Two of the route options begin at Production Way-University Station and end at UniverCity Town Square, including a straight-line, direct route with a travel time of six minutes over a 2.7-km-long distance with five towers. It also carries the lowest construction and operating costs, with construction pegged at $197 million.
The second option that also starts from Production Way-University Station takes an angled detour to the east to reduce its impact over the Forest Grove neighbourhood. The 3.7-km-long span with seven towers, plus a direction turning mid-station building, has a travel time of 11 minutes. Previous preliminary construction cost estimates peg this option at $255 million.
The third shortlisted route option begins at Lake City Way Station, requiring a transfer to the Millennium Line at Production Way-University Station for those travelling from the Expo Line. The mountaintop terminal is located within Naheeno Park, just south of the intersection of South Campus Road and Gaglardi Way.
This 3.6-km-long route with seven towers, not including the mid-station, has a travel time of 10 minutes, and is closest to the Trans Mountain tank farm. The construction cost for the third route option is significantly higher than the first two options, but a detailed cost estimate has not been made. TransLink added this third route to its consideration upon the request of the municipal government.
The gondola will have a peak hour capacity of 3,000 passengers per hour per direction, with 35-passenger capacity cabins arriving every minute.
About 25,000 bus trips are typically made to campus each weekday, and without the gondola this bus ridership is expected to increase to 40,000 from both the growth of enrolment and the UniverCity residential community. A gondola would replace the existing No. 145 SFU/Production Station bus, which is prone to lengthy delays, mechanical breakdowns, and frequent pass-ups. A 15-minute bus trip can see delays of as long as 30 minutes.
The campus shuts down during snowfall, when buses are unable to make the trek up and down the mountain.
Last month, TransLink also launched its public consultation on the station designs for the Surrey-Langley SkyTrain extension, but the process was temporarily suspended within days after a provincial election was called. The consultation is expected to resume after the election.