EDMONTON -- Since opening nearly three years ago, the funicular was closed for COVID-19 this year about twice as long as for all other reasons combined.

Although the data is incomplete for 2020, the mechanized stair lift gave some 230,000 rides over 2018 and 2019.

But up until August 2020, the $24-million cable-system car has been closed the equivalent of 25 of its 14-hour operational days for planned maintenance. And another 23 days for unplanned repairs – often the result of vandalism.

In total, the 48 days of maintenance closures is a little more than half of the 83 days the City of Edmonton closed the funicular during the height of the pandemic in Alberta.





2020 (until August)

Planned maintenance




Unplanned maintenance








But while COVID-19 has closed the funicular longer, it’s been the cheapest kind of closure.

Breakdowns and emergency repairs cost the city $60,000 in 2018, and $23,000 the following year.

Last month, the river valley ride was closed for two weeks for $16,000 in repairs after a vandal smashed all but one panel of glass. It has been closed six times this year. Expense reports were not available.

Meanwhile, general maintenance cost the city $713,000 over 2018 and 2019.

“The funicular has experienced high use since it opened and we’re pleased Edmontonians have embraced it,” a statement from the city reads.

“In order to maintain the funicular to optimal operations, it requires ongoing routine maintenance which means it is shut down from time to time. Unfortunately, vandalism happens but that has been rare overall as most Edmontonians enjoy the funicular in a respectful manner.”

The city closed most of its public facilities on March 15. Edmontonians could again ride the lift on June 15, but were asked to sanitize their hands before and after entering the car, physically distance themselves from other passengers, and wear a mask.

The funicular is open daily between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m.

With files from CTV News Edmonton’s Jeremy Thompson