This post originally appeared on Orphan Road.
Crystal Mountain has began installing a $5.3M gondola to bring more skiiers up to the top of its mountain. With 18 cars it will bring 450 people up an hour, and has the capacity to add another 18 cars. The total run is around 8,000 feet and will take a bit under 10 minutes.
If Crystal (and Portland, for that matter) can do this, why can’t Seattle? We’re full of hills that are hard to access. Take a look at my proposed Galer Ski Lift route going up from Lake Union to upper Queen Anne. This would be under 500 feet, so travel at 800 feet/minute would take less than a minute. Currently it takes around half an hour to make this trip by bus. Further, Queen Anne would then connect directly to the SLU Streetcar* and therefore downtown.
Of course the Queen Anne Gondola would be much smaller than Crystal’s system. It would be less than a 10th as long, would require very few towers, we could downsize the equipment and settle for a 2-3 minute travel time, and you don’t have to lug all of this equipment high in the hills – just truck it in from the port. But even if it costs close to the $5.3M, that’s a tenth the cost of our South Lake Union Streetcar. What we spend in capital costs may pay back in bus service hours, since this would replace quite a few commutes. Plus we can pay for at least part of it with a LID, since this will surely increase sales at QA’s shops and will be a great tourist attraction.
It’s frustrating that it takes a half an hour to get downtown via bus from QA despite being just 2 miles away (that’s an average of 4 miles an hour), which is why I thought up this route. Are there any other locations where this might work (perhaps West Seattle)?
*there’s a significant walk now, but it’s likely it will eventually continue up Westlake