Rantz: Seattle gondolas are the shockingly bad transportation idea that won’t die

Mar 28, 2022, 7:20 PM
(Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)...
(Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
(Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

The shockingly bad idea to install gondolas as a means of transportation in Seattle will not die.

It’s cheaper than some alternatives, but it would be little more than a gimmick and almost certainly be plagued with technical failures. So, naturally, the idea won’t die. In fact, it’ll probably be implemented.

The latest calls for gondolas come from transportation advocates who argue the Sound Transit project to connect West Seattle to the rest of the city is too costly and would take too long. Both criticisms are valid. Everything Sound Transit manages to touch is too costly and too slow. But that doesn’t make the idea of gondolas any better.

A bad plan

The gondola plan connects West Seattle to SoDo. Then what? You’re on your own to figure out one of the many other transportation modes.

You could risk an assault by getting to the local light rail station. You could risk a contact high by taking the bus. You could risk a mugging by walking to your destination through SoDo and Pioneer Square. You could risk depleting your bank account by taking an Uber.

How’s this for an idea: build upon preexisting infrastructure so we have one system that gets you where you need to go.

If you want to meet a friend for lunch and shop at the U-Village in the University District, it would take you about 90 minutes. You’d ride a bus or walk to the gondola in West Seattle, and ride it to SoDo. There you take light rail to the Husky Stadium station before hopping on the bus to U-Village. Oh, how convenient.

Rantz: Sound Transit spends billions, yet still can’t get escalators to work

A better plan

How about we expand light rail in a cost-effective way — with better leadership than we currently have — and use the bus to supplement more direct routes when necessary?

Stand-alone transportation options that don’t get you where you want to go are wastes of money. And they’re most certainly not family-friendly or realistic.

Expanding the options to get you more places, including, eventually, to Snohomish, Pierce, and east King counties makes more sense.

If leaders decades ago were smart enough to think bigger, the region would be way ahead of where we find ourselves. Perhaps those leaders were bogged down with dumpster fire ideas that should be taken behind a shed and put down. It’s what we should do with the gondolas proposal.

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show weekday afternoons from 3–6 pm on KTTH 770 AM (HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here. Follow @JasonRantz  on  Twitter,  Instagram, and Facebook. Check back frequently for more news and analysis.

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Rantz: Seattle gondolas are the shockingly bad transportation idea that won’t die