West Seattle Blog… | GONDOLA? West Seattle SkyLink Response to Sound Transit Feasibility Report

A week and a half later sound transit released its feasibility report on whether gondola service could replace light rail transit for West Seattle, the organization proposing it released its response. West Seattle SkyLink sent us the eight-page response last night – read it here or below:

West Seattle SkyLink says the Sound Transit report is not a substitute for a “technical engineering study by gondola experts.” They say, “The feasibility report was prepared in-house without any analysis by an engineering company that has experience with gondola technology, design or construction, as is usually the case. There are several US companies qualified to undertake a feasibility study for an urban gondola feeder. The response also states, “Another glaring deficiency in the Sound Transit Report is the lack of review of ongoing urban gondola projects…most of these urban gondola projects are seen as feeders or connectors to a light rail or rapid bus system, much like an urban gondola would be for West Seattle. The projects they cite range from Los Angeles Rapid Air Transport, for which a draft environmental impact report is to be published this summer, to the “cable car” overhead line which was just put into service a week ago in Haifa, Israel. Much closer to home, SkyLink also notes that Kirkland has considered using gondolas for connection to a Sound Transit station (the city’s website says a feasibility study was done in 2018, but the gondola alternative was not included in the recent environmental scan).

Overall, SkyLink’s response concludes, “The Sound Transit Report has done its best to dump as much dirt as possible onto urban gondolas as a feed for its light rail system without noting the many other transit agencies public transport, domestic and foreign, who have found that an urban gondola departure is exactly the right complement to their bus and light rail systems. Their contention continues to be that a gondola line could be built faster and cheaper, with far less residential and business travel, but as to how much money and time it would take, it would come down to to a “properly produced study” to determine .

Will such a study be commissioned? Sound Transit staff rehearsed last week, during a presentation at 34th District Democrats, that it would be up to the council to order it. ST Carrie Avila-Mooney added during the DD’s 34th Q&A that the agency “doesn’t have voter-approved money” to investigate it. The next meeting of the Board of Directors will take place on Thursday, April 28 and will include a public comment period; watch the agenda here.

Amanda J. Marsh