Posts Tagged: Economics



Vancouver / Burnaby Urban Gondola: A Sample Of Things To Come?

If the planners are to be believed, the new Vancouver / Burnaby Urban Gondola Transit system will cost $120 million CAD, instead of the $69 million CAD initially reported.

Consider how similar the Burnaby gondola is to – say – the Koblenz Rheinseilbahn or Whistler’s Peak 2 Peak and you realize that $120 million is a steep price to pay for a ski lift.

And as Danish scholar Bent Flyvbjerg has shown us, transit agencies are notoriously bad at under-forecasting capital costs. There’s a good chance this system could cost even more.

So is this a taste of things to come?

There’s no doubt that building for the public transit sector is a lot more costly than building for the private recreation market.

But should the difference be so excessive?

What true added value is a transit agency providing that justifies a price premium of 50, 100, or 150 percent greater than would would typically be paid?

One of the true advantages of cable transit technology over other technologies is that the capital cost of the system is incredibly competitive. But if to build a cable propelled transit system in western, developed nations requires massive scope creep and pork barrel politics, we may see all those cost advantages evaporate.

If this keeps up, urban gondolas may just wind up as expensive as everything else.


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