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Gondola plans for Vaughan are ‘conceptual only,’ city makes clear

Angela Gismondi
Gondola plans for Vaughan are ‘conceptual only,’ city makes clear
CITY OF VAUGHAN - As part of the City of Vaughan’s transportation plan, a white paper was prepared by SCJ Alliance to explore aerial mobility opportunities including a gondola system. The system, which is conceptual and not being implemented, runs along Jane Street and would connect people from the transit hub at the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre to destinations such as Vaughan Mills mall and Wonderland.

The City of Vaughan will not be implementing a gondola system to some of its most popular destinations anytime soon.

The city recently approved the 2023 Vaughan Transportation Plan (VTP) Final Report. In an Aerial Mobility report prepared by engineering firm SCJ Alliance, a conceptual alignment for a gondola system along Jane Street was investigated. The system would connect the city’s transit hub at Vaughan Metropolitan Centre with other major destinations like Vaughan Mills mall, Canada’s Wonderland and the new Cortellucci Vaughan Hospital.

News of this concept created a buzz on social media, but the city is making it clear it’s not in any plans, however, details of the study do provide food for thought.

“As part of the Vaughan Transportation Plan process, the city’s study team was challenged to think ‘outside the box,’” said a spokesperson from the City of Vaughan in an email to the Daily Commercial News. “Aerial mobility was explored as a new form of transportation, similar to other proposals such as e-scooters and micromobility. However, the aerial mobility concept plans are conceptual only. The city has no plans to implement them.”

According to the transportation report, aerial mobility such as gondolas and other cable-propelled transit systems have experienced rapid growth over the past decade in cities across the world.

“These systems vary in distance, capacity, cabin size and correspondingly, cost,” the report states. “Primary benefits of these types of systems is that they are adaptable, and when deployed properly, may provide transit benefits such as reduced wait and connection to higher order transit.”

As part of the city’s Transportation Master Plan Update, last year engineering firm SCJ Alliance was retained to provide a feasibility study for integrating cable-propelled transit with the transportation network.

A memo prepared by the team concluded a 3S/Tri-cable detachable gondola system is “a favourable solution for this transit connection, as it can accommodate the current and future ridership demand with considerably reduced impact in the area compared to other, more conventional modes of transportation.”

The conceptual Vaughan gondola system is comprised of four stations: two terminal stations, two intermediate stations, and 15 towers along the 6.2-kilometre-long system.

The alignment is proposed to remain entirely within the public right-of-way, eliminating potential property conflicts as well as the need to acquire additional land.

“The current width of the median is likely sufficient to contain the structural columns at gondola stations as well as tower footprints touching the ground,” the report states.

“Utilizing these existing conditions means that introducing a new public transit system to the right-of-way of Jane Street can be achieved without any significant impacts to vehicular, pedestrian, or cyclist movement taking place on the surface. Further research and design is required to confirm these high-level assumptions.”

Tri-Cable detachable gondola systems have three cables: two track cables and one haul cable that provides support and propulsion which allows the system to use much larger cabins that can carry 35 to 40 people per cabin and have higher wind stability. 3S gondola system capacity can move up to 5,000 people per hour per direction, which is comparable to light rail system capacities in urban environments, states the report.

“This memo concludes that introducing such a system to the city is not only feasible, but can also provide local and regional transit benefits to the area,” the report indicates.

The transportation report also contained actions recommended to further investigate aerial mobility, continue to explore opportunities and evaluate the feasibility of implementing aerial mobility systems within the city and partner with stakeholders and other municipalities to consider urban gondola technology and its potential uses and drawbacks as public transit in Vaughan.

Follow the author on Twitter @DCN_Angela

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