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Seattle SkyLink gondola proposed as alternative to light rail expansion

Consultants say an urban gondola could cost $2 billion less than the current Sound Transit light rail project.

Editor's note: The above video on Washington's "Move Ahead Plan" originally aired March 25, 2022.

SEATTLE —  Citing lesser costs and a quicker timeline for completion, a local group is advocating for an urban gondola system to be considered as an alternative for Sound Transit light rail expansion in West Seattle.

SkyLink is a self-described "citizen advocacy group" for implementing a public mass-transit system. 

One of the group's principals, Martin Pagel, spoke during a recent group Zoom meeting about how the delays with the West Seattle Bridge project only further demonstrate why there's a need for more alternatives for public transit in Seattle.

"We have a proposal for Sound Transit that could accomplish the West Seattle portion of that plan in a way that which not only would deliver it sooner but would also save money so that even more communities could be connected to transit sooner," Pagel said.

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Pagel said the SkyLink system could be up and running from West Seattle to SoDo by 2026, while the current delays on the light rail project estimate completion around 2032.

The light rail delays also have increased costs for the West Seattle project by 73 percent, and SkyLink's website said gondola manufacturers and consultants believe their plan could cost $2 billion less.

SkyLink's hope, according to Pagel, is for Sound Transit to commission gondola experts to study the potential impacts of such a system in the Seattle area. Pagel said the study would cost around $200,000.

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