Frequently Asked Questions
Why are you recommending a gondola instead of light rail?
Given circumstances (bridge closure, budget shortfall) we are urging Sound Transit to consider using a gondola system rather than light rail to connect West Seattle to the main spine of the Link system. A gondola could provide the needed rider capacity in travel times comparable to light rail but with much less property displacement and without a new, dedicated bridge across the Duwamish. Most importantly, the gondola could be ready years before light rail and cost about $2 billion dollars less.
How soon can SkyLink be built?
After feasibility and environmental studies are done, and permits issued, construction will take about two years. (Light rail is scheduled to reach Stadium in 2031 and International District in 2036. Both dates may be delayed due to budget constraints.)
How many people can be transported in and out of West Seattle in an hour?
Gondola systems can handle up to 4500 people per hour in each direction, some even 6000. Depending on configuration it may use more than 100 continuously circulating cabins, each carrying 10 to 30 passengers. Though traffic will fluctuate during the day, SkyLink's capacity would be well beyond the 25,000 - 27,000 trips Sound Transit projects for 2040.
Where will SkyLink stations be located?
Stations will be located in the area of the Alaska Junction, in the Fauntleroy/Avalon area and Delridge Community Center, just as the ST3 plan proposes. They will connect to the SoDo and International District Link stations.
What is the construction impact?
While Link requires dozens of cement pylons to support its elevated track, the gondola just needs a few towers to hold up its cables. This means a gondola will displace far fewer homes and businesses, and its construction will be much faster and less disruptive. Another important difference is that the SkyLink stations will only be a quarter of the size of a Link station, they may be located above an intersection.
How will I get from my home to the SkyLink station?
The City and County plan to coordinate bus routes to deliver riders to the West Seattle stations. Pilots are being conducted on new “last mile” options for taking people from their homes to the stations, such as on-demand van services.
What if I ride my bike, take a stroller, or I'm in a wheel chair?
You can access each station via elevator. The cabins slow down enough for you to wheel on. Each cabin also has a strap to secure a bicycle, stroller, or wheel chair.
What about public safety?
Cabins glide through stations every 5-30 seconds, so if
you don't want to board a cabin with someone who
concerns you, you can just catch the next empty car.
Also, just as at transit and light rail stations, gondola
stations and cabins are equipped with security
cameras and emergency call buttons, and activity is
monitored whenever the system is running.
What happens in bad weather?
Gondola systems have operated safely for more than
100 years in parts of the world with more extreme
weather conditions than we get in Seattle. Depending on the type, gondola systems can operate in winds of
up to 70 mph. Overall, gondola systems are considered the safest of all public transportation systems.
What about earthquakes?
Gondola systems have been safely operating in many seismic prone areas of the world. They are supported by widely-spaced towers that support a flexible cable with automatic tensioning. In a seismic event such flexible system usually performs better than rigid elevated tracks or roadways.