There are various things that the city of Edmonton could do to improve its public transport system, and building a gondola down Whyte Avenue is definitely not one of them.
City Councillor Tim Cartwell pitched the idea of a ski-hill-type gondola to unburden the high-density corridor. This is supposed to present an alternative to the new LRT line that is currently being designed to disencumber the route between the University Campus and Bonnie Doon Mall.
While a gondola would certainly be a way to avoid traffic during rush hour, this (and maybe the eco-friendly aspect of gondolas) are the only two advantages I can think of. Beyond that, Cartwell’s project seems nothing but absurd.
Running gondolas over a high traffic street is not just disturbing (and therefore dangerous) to drivers and pedestrians, I also can’t imagine that residents of Whyte Ave would be too thrilled about having a bunch of gondolas block their sight when looking out the window (in addition to a few dozen strangers peeking into their private lives through said windows every day).
Besides that, if a new LRT line is already being designed for the purpose of unburdening Whyte Ave, it can be assumed that money has already been invested in that project, and I feel like at this point, it would be wise to stick to one plan and follow through with it, instead of dropping the idea and starting all over with a new one – which, considering it is unprecedented to Edmonton, we don’t even know would work.
Whether or not investing money into a new LRT line was actually a good idea is a different topic. However, if the city of Edmonton wants to put money into developing its public transport system, I personally think that is a great idea — but maybe, Edmonton, stick to what you know?
Edmonton already has an impressive amount of bus lines for a medium-sized city and establishing new LRT lines is more than you can ask for, I believe. Don’t get me wrong, that doesn’t mean that I think that Edmonton’s public transport system doesn’t need improving, which I sure as hell think it does.
But if you’re going to invest tax money into something that will make your citizen’s lives easier, don’t go spending it on a gondola line that will cover the same route that is already being covered by about half a dozen bus lines.
Instead, how about working on the fact that after 2 a.m., it becomes a real “Mission Impossible” to get from A to B using public transport, because it just stops running, even on weekends? How about increasing late night safety by allowing both people on their way home from a night out and those in shift work, working late at night, to get home safe without having to drive? Or making some of the low-frequency bus lines we already have run at a higher frequency than every 30 minutes? So, as final words on the subject matter — dear city of Edmonton, dear ETS: don’t change horses in midstream. Edmonton’s public transport system could definitely benefit from some improvement by increasing frequencies and providing nightly public transport, but at least it works. Please don’t ruin that.