As Sound Transit reworks light rail projects, group renews push for network of gondolas

Aug 8, 2021, 7:30 AM
Aerial gondolas...
Aerial gondolas in Japan. (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

As Sound Transit lays out its plans for light rail expansions around a $6.5 billion budget hole, a local group is continuing to push for what it believes would be a superior option: aerial gondolas.

Group launches campaign for gondolas as alternative to light rail

The group unveiled its proposal last December, calling it the West Seattle SkyLink. In practice, a network of urban aerial gondolas would move commuters across the city between the Alaska Junction to the International District. In order to fully service West Seattle, it would entail 100, 10-seat cabins on a route pulled by wire, capable of carrying roughly 4,500 people an hour.

On Thursday, the Sound Transit Board voted to delay several light rail expansion projects. That included moving the Ballard Link’s completion date from 2035 to 2039, Everett’s from 2031 to 2036, and West Seattle’s from 2031 to 2032.

Given those delays, the West Seattle SkyLink group is now circulating a petition asking that Sound Transit “immediately commission gondola experts to conduct a technical engineering study on using a gondola as the West Seattle connection to a Link light rail spine.”

“We further ask the Sound Transit Board to use the results of the study to compare the gondola to light rail alternatives in reaching a determination on the best way to connect West Seattle to Link,” the petition continues.

Gondolas wouldn’t solve transportation problem, but they’d be neat

The group estimates that gondolas connecting West Seattle could be completed by 2024, and would provide $2 billion in savings. Those savings would then be used to “accelerate expansion of a regional transit system that reaches more destinations and serves more people,” it proposes.

The shorter timeline and smaller price tag also come with some caveats, however. The maximum rider capacity for the gondolas would top out around 55,000 daily passengers, far short of the 80,000 people a day that Link light rail carries. Gondolas also come with fewer stops along any single route, and move slower than light rail. That could present potential safety concerns, with passengers stuck in a tighter space together with more time between stops.

Local News

Olympia shooting...
KIRO Radio Newsdesk

Washington State Patrol investigates shooting in Olympia near capitol

Washington State Patrol is investigating after a shooting in Olympia at the north end of Capitol Lake on Deschutes Parkway on Wednesday. 
16 hours ago
Marginal Way...
Kathryn Altena

South Park Bridge, East Marginal Way South reopen after storm damage

It's been more than two days, but both the South Park Bridge and East Marginal Way South are back open after suffering damage from the weekend's storm. 
16 hours ago
KIRO Radio Newsdesk

FAA flags potential safety problems for Boeing’s 767 and 757

Boeing hit yet another stumbling block this week, with the Federal Aviation Administration flagging potential safety problems with two of its planes.
16 hours ago
MyNorthwest Staff

First Seattle homeless residents moving in to King County’s hotel

A hotel that's part of King County's "Health Through Housing" initiative in North Seattle will welcome its first residents this week. 
16 hours ago
KIRO 7 News Staff

‘Atmospheric river’ to produce heavy rainfall across region

We’ll continue to see a few showers here and there, but most of us will be more dry than wet on Wednesday with most of the rainfall in the mountains.
16 hours ago
I-90 blocked, overturned semi-truck...
MyNorthwest Staff

Westbound I-90 through Seattle reopened after semi-truck blocks roadway for hours

An overturned semi-truck is block all lanes of westbound I-90 at Corwin Place South, just west of Rainier Avenue in Seattle. 
16 hours ago

Sponsored Articles


Medicare open enrollment for 2022 starts Oct. 15 and SHIBA can help!

Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner SPONSORED — Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period, also called the Annual Election Period, is Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. During this time, people enrolled in Medicare can: Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan and vice versa. Join, drop or switch a Part D prescription drug plan, […]

How to Have a Stress-Free Real Estate Experience

The real estate industry has adapted and sellers are taking full advantage of new real estate models. One of which is Every Door Real Estate.
IQ Air

How Poor Air Quality Is Affecting Our Future Athletes

You cannot control your child’s breathing environment 100% of the time, but you can make a huge impact.
Swedish Health Services

Special Coverage: National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

There are a wide variety of treatment options available for men with prostate cancer. The most technologically advanced treatment option in the Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform.
Marysville Police Department

Police Opportunities in a Growing, Supportive Washington Community

Marysville PD is looking for both lateral and entry level officers. Begin or continue your career in law enforcement for a growing, supportive community.

Small, Minority-Owned Businesses in King County and Pierce County Can Now Apply For $10,000 Relief Grants Through Comcast RISE

Businesses in King County and Pierce County can apply beginning on October 1, 2021, at www.ComcastRISE.com for a chance to receive a $10,000 relief grant.
As Sound Transit reworks light rail projects, group renews push for network of gondolas