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Monorails For Public Transit Pros & Cons  
User currently offline2707200X From United States of America, joined Mar 2009, 8786 posts, RR: 1
Posted (5 years 1 month 2 days 21 hours ago) and read 7481 times:

I'm not talking about mass production of the same monorail trains that you see a Disneyland and Disney World but those similar to the ones in Las Vegas and Seattle.

I like the monorail because it is safe, reliable, profitable and efficiant and they don't cross roads and streets avoiding accidents and they are not subject to road conditions/closures like street construction and red lights.

They can replace systems like the Metro link and light rail trains that frequently get into collisions with stalled vehicles or suicidal maniacs that seem to be common in SoCal.

Smaller monorails can replace city buses as they are not subject to delays of street construction/closure, traffic congestion and car crashes. You don't have to wait 30 or more minutes for your next ride.

Pros

> Aesthetics, they look sleek and clean, they don't have the mesh of overhead powerlines like light rail does, graceful beams only 26" wide.

> Faster construction than light rail, less interruption for businesses.

> Less expensive having fewer drivers and does not need constant care as you don't have steel wheels on steel track that wear out quickly. Fewer lawsuits forked out by tax payers.
Can be profitable, light rail is not.

> Efficient, it is not subject to road conditions or breakdowns like buses are, they are more frequent that buses. Monorails are 99.9% reliable, better by far than other modes of transit.

> Safety, they are above the traffic avoiding vehicle and pedestrian collisions. Monorails do not derail.

Cons

> Cost as much as or more than light rail.

> Shuts down if beam need fixing.

> Not as accessible as the bus.

The advantages far outweigh the disadvantages, it is the fastest, best and safest way to go.

Pros information comes from www.monorails.org


"And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by." John Masefield Sea-Fever
42 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineAznMadSci From United States of America, joined Dec 2007, 3712 posts, RR: 6
Reply 1, posted (5 years 1 month 2 days 21 hours ago) and read 7477 times:

The big con is the cost. Also they seem a bit outdated, especially Seattle's. I haven't heard much lately about LV's. It's a rather expensive system to ride probably due to being way over budget and having a lot of problems around its opening start date. A more interesting system is the driverless one that are currently used on Vancouver's SkyTrain and Canada Line as well as Dubai's brand new metro system.


The journey of life is not based on the accomplishments, but the experience.
User currently onlineMir From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 21854 posts, RR: 55
Reply 2, posted (5 years 1 month 2 days 19 hours ago) and read 7453 times:



Quoting 2707200X (Thread starter):
Aesthetics, they look sleek and clean, they don't have the mesh of overhead powerlines like light rail does, graceful beams only 26" wide.

This is very debatable. Overhead wires are not that visible, whereas a big steel beam running down the street is (not to mention it's supporting structure). And if a light rail train has a problem, it can just open the doors and let people out. A monorail can't do that without having an additional platform alongside, which increases the footprint.

Your other pros are debatable as well:

Quoting 2707200X (Thread starter):
Faster construction than light rail, less interruption for businesses.

It does not take a long time to throw down a pair of rails and a wire. Building a monorail track may not take too long, but stations do.

Quoting 2707200X (Thread starter):
Less expensive having fewer drivers and does not need constant care as you don't have steel wheels on steel track that wear out quickly.

You do, however, have many more wheels per bogie to take care of. And the stations are going to need to have elevators, escalators, etc., all things that can break and that light rail and buses don't need.

Other things that make monorails very unattractive as a public transport system:

- Light rail and buses can stop anywhere along the line. Monorails can only stop at pre-built stations, vastly reducing flexibility.

- Monorail switches are extremely complicated, and you can forget about level crossings between lines like you can do with light rail. This means that pretty much every line has to be self-contained, limiting flexibility.

- As has been mentioned, cost is a killer for monorails.

Monorails are a niche method of transport that have not caught on in most of the world for a good reason.

-Mir



7 billion, one nation, imagination...it's a beautiful day
User currently offlineRussianJet From Belgium, joined Jul 2007, 7718 posts, RR: 21
Reply 3, posted (5 years 1 month 2 days 19 hours ago) and read 7449 times:

Pro: Once upon a time they looked all cool and futuristic.

Con: I don't think they do anymore.



✈ Every strike of the hammer is a blow against the enemy. ✈
User currently offlineSeb146 From United States of America, joined Nov 1999, 11793 posts, RR: 15
Reply 4, posted (5 years 1 month 2 days 12 hours ago) and read 7386 times:

SEA has been talking about extending the monorail for decades. It will never happen. It simply takes too much room. Once the line is built, it is built. Not like a light rail or trolley bus line, which can be changed easier. Monorails are a novelty, but that is about it. Even when I lived in SEA, I would rarely see locals using it.


Life in the wall is a drag.
User currently offlineJFK69 From United States of America, joined Jun 2006, 1420 posts, RR: 1
Reply 5, posted (5 years 1 month 2 days 12 hours ago) and read 7380 times:

I wish the Wuppertal Schwebebahn took off.....

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wuppertal_Schwebebahn


User currently offlineDesertJets From United States of America, joined Feb 2000, 7810 posts, RR: 16
Reply 6, posted (5 years 1 month 2 days 12 hours ago) and read 7368 times:

No topic on monorails is complete w/o this...


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OC56hnyiP_s


I think in general elevated track rail systems seem highly unpopular as you have all the structure overhead to support the trains and stations. And it would require certainly as much, if not more, disruption of surrounding areas to build vs. light rail. TBH I am not fully sold on the light rail concept, some cities have done a pretty good job with it and others have built systems that don't really work well. I think it does a good job in that it gets people to ride mass transit that would not have ridden the bus. But at the same time I think it would be more cost effective to build dedicated busways and go with BRT instead of light rail.



Stop drop and roll will not save you in hell. --- seen on a church marque in rural Virginia
User currently offlineDocLightning From United States of America, joined Nov 2005, 20334 posts, RR: 59
Reply 7, posted (5 years 1 month 2 days 10 hours ago) and read 7338 times:



Quoting Mir (Reply 2):

- Light rail and buses can stop anywhere along the line. Monorails can only stop at pre-built stations, vastly reducing flexibility.

This is also a limitation of any off-grade system, be it elevated trains, subway, or monorail.

Quoting Mir (Reply 2):

- Monorail switches are extremely complicated, and you can forget about level crossings between lines like you can do with light rail. This means that pretty much every line has to be self-contained, limiting flexibility.

This is an issue, although newer switching systems exist that are actually more simple than the massive turntables of the past. The big issue is that in a monorail switch, there is one beam that dead-ends, which is not the case with rail switches. That is a safety concern, but proper safety mechanisms can negate it.

Quoting Mir (Reply 2):

- As has been mentioned, cost is a killer for monorails.

It's not any more expensive to build than a subway or an elevated train. And it's cheaper to operate.


User currently offlineMike89406 From United States of America, joined Mar 2007, 1494 posts, RR: 3
Reply 8, posted (5 years 1 month 2 days 10 hours ago) and read 7332 times:



Quoting 2707200X (Thread starter):
I'm not talking about mass production of the same monorail trains that you see a Disneyland and Disney World but those similar to the ones in Las Vegas and Seattle.

You must have seen the same documentary I was watching last week.


User currently offlineN1120A From United States of America, joined Dec 2003, 26785 posts, RR: 75
Reply 9, posted (5 years 1 month 2 days 9 hours ago) and read 7300 times:

What should be done is that this should be built:

http://la.curbed.com/uploads/goodmon_final-thumb.gif

Believe it or not, that plan actually uses mostly existing rights-of-way and infrastructure.

Quoting 2707200X (Thread starter):

Buying into Ray Bradbury's stuff, huh? If they had actually gone ahead and built that system in the 50s and 60s, it might have been a successful, clean slate thing. That said, Los Angeles had and has plenty of rail infrastructure and rights-of-way just sitting there doing little or nothing, which means it makes more sense to just rehab the tracks and run trains/light rail.

Quoting DesertJets (Reply 6):
But at the same time I think it would be more cost effective to build dedicated busways and go with BRT instead of light rail.

BRT sucks for the same reasons buses suck. Less efficient, less reliable, less comfortable, less attractive, less capacity...



Mangeons les French fries, mais surtout pratiquons avec fierte le French kiss
User currently onlineMir From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 21854 posts, RR: 55
Reply 10, posted (5 years 1 month 2 days 9 hours ago) and read 7300 times:



Quoting DocLightning (Reply 7):
It's not any more expensive to build than a subway or an elevated train.

This is true, but the OP was comparing it to light rail and buses, and there's absolutely no comparison there.

And if you want to compare a monorail to a subway or elevated train, there are other disadvantages, such as availability of spare parts, the switching complexities, and the fact that subways, once construction is complete, are less intrusive to daily life.

-Mir



7 billion, one nation, imagination...it's a beautiful day
User currently offlineSW733 From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 6371 posts, RR: 9
Reply 11, posted (5 years 1 month 2 days 9 hours ago) and read 7296 times:

Cost, obviously, is huge.

Repairs are tricky. And they can take a while, too. The switches are a beast - all that moving machinery to move an entire beam, and one small piece can throw the whole thing in a mess.

Quoting RussianJet (Reply 3):
Pro: Once upon a time they looked all cool and futuristic.

Con: I don't think they do anymore.

 thumbsup  I was just on the Kuala Lumpur monorail a few weeks ago and could tell it was pretty awesome...some years ago.


User currently offlineDocLightning From United States of America, joined Nov 2005, 20334 posts, RR: 59
Reply 12, posted (5 years 1 month 2 days 8 hours ago) and read 7277 times:



Quoting Mir (Reply 10):

This is true, but the OP was comparing it to light rail and buses, and there's absolutely no comparison there.

Well, it's not comparable to light rail or buses. It's comparable to heavy rail or a subway.


User currently offlineN1120A From United States of America, joined Dec 2003, 26785 posts, RR: 75
Reply 13, posted (5 years 1 month 2 days 7 hours ago) and read 7238 times:



Quoting DocLightning (Reply 12):

Well, it's not comparable to light rail or buses. It's comparable to heavy rail or a subway.

Not exactly. Subways can be made compatible with other standard gauge rail systems, allowing far more flexibility. As for heavy rail, I don't see how building a monorail line is really comparable. The fact that you don't HAVE to grade separate heavy rail, and that lots of existing infrastructure exists, makes it significantly cheaper and easier.



Mangeons les French fries, mais surtout pratiquons avec fierte le French kiss
User currently offlineDocLightning From United States of America, joined Nov 2005, 20334 posts, RR: 59
Reply 14, posted (5 years 1 month 2 days 7 hours ago) and read 7231 times:



Quoting N1120A (Reply 13):

Not exactly. Subways can be made compatible with other standard gauge rail systems, allowing far more flexibility. As for heavy rail, I don't see how building a monorail line is really comparable. The fact that you don't HAVE to grade separate heavy rail, and that lots of existing infrastructure exists, makes it significantly cheaper and easier.

Well, if the rails are already there, that's fine. But if you're talking about building a public transport system, the rails aren't there. Heavy rail is also expensive to build and maintain and the rails need more frequent replacement than monorail beams do.

When you compare monorail to other elevated rail systems, it's generally superior. However, in a large city, elevated rail systems aren't usually very practical. They interfere with buildings, they block out sky, and their elevated nature raises an issue if a train breaks down, since it's more difficult to reach and more difficult to evacuate the passengers.

So the real reason why monorail hasn't caught on has more to do with the fact that monorails generally need to be elevated.


User currently offlineN1120A From United States of America, joined Dec 2003, 26785 posts, RR: 75
Reply 15, posted (5 years 1 month 2 days 7 hours ago) and read 7221 times:



Quoting DocLightning (Reply 14):
Well, if the rails are already there, that's fine. But if you're talking about building a public transport system, the rails aren't there. Heavy rail is also expensive to build and maintain and the rails need more frequent replacement than monorail beams do.

Sure, but it is a lot quicker to work on sections of steel rail than on sections of monorail. And again, in the context of the OP's post, the infrastructure is already there to build a massive standard gauge rail transport system.

Quoting DocLightning (Reply 14):
When you compare monorail to other elevated rail systems, it's generally superior. However, in a large city, elevated rail systems aren't usually very practical. They interfere with buildings, they block out sky, and their elevated nature raises an issue if a train breaks down, since it's more difficult to reach and more difficult to evacuate the passengers.

Again, it just makes more sense when you already have the infrastructure to improve that. Further, while I don't think a monorail would be aesthetically bad in Los Angeles, it would be practically awful.

Quoting DocLightning (Reply 14):
So the real reason why monorail hasn't caught on has more to do with the fact that monorails generally need to be elevated.

Elevated systems have had success all over the world, including in the US.



Mangeons les French fries, mais surtout pratiquons avec fierte le French kiss
User currently offlineDocLightning From United States of America, joined Nov 2005, 20334 posts, RR: 59
Reply 16, posted (5 years 1 month 2 days 6 hours ago) and read 7206 times:



Quoting N1120A (Reply 15):

Again, it just makes more sense when you already have the infrastructure to improve that. Further, while I don't think a monorail would be aesthetically bad in Los Angeles, it would be practically awful.

I don't see how it would be worse than an elevated rail system. Monorail beams are much thinner than elevated rail.

Quoting N1120A (Reply 15):

Elevated systems have had success all over the world, including in the US.

But you can count those systems on both hands. And most of them are pretty limited. There aren't a lot of elevated systems that span whole cities. They're usually single-line or loop systems. The JFK Airtrain is a perfect example of a limited system that has a good reason to be elevated. But it can't interline with standard rail because the cars require a linear induction system for propulsion.

What light rail and buses offer in terms of ease of construction they lose in speed and congestion. Buses and trams are subject to traffic and they also clog traffic. For example, the NYC Straphanger's campaign awards a "pokey award" to the slowest bus routes. Sometimes, the average line speed is less than 5MPH.


User currently offlineJetstar From United States of America, joined May 2003, 1662 posts, RR: 10
Reply 17, posted (5 years 1 month 2 days 6 hours ago) and read 7186 times:
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The one thing that concerns me on an overhead monorail system is in case of a fire in a car from a motor overheating or sparking, how do people get out safely.

I have ridden monorail systems in Seattle, Las Vegas and Disney World. At the monorail in Disney World, the run from the Magic Kingdom to Epcot is a few miles nonstop. The monorail beams are about 20 feet above ground and there are no emergency stops between the 2 locations.

I don’t know if there are chain ladders or any other devices to allow passengers to safely get to the ground, but in an emergency situation I can see people jumping out, this itself creates a very dangerous situation.

On the Las Vegas monorail, their system at some spots is much higher off of the ground, especially near the convention center where the monorail passes over the walkway that connects the convention center parking lot on the west side of Paradise Road to the convention center.

At least on a light rail system, it is just a small step down and even on an overpass or elevated sections there usually is enough room along the side to safely evacuate
from the car.

JetStar


User currently offlineN1120A From United States of America, joined Dec 2003, 26785 posts, RR: 75
Reply 18, posted (5 years 1 month 2 days 5 hours ago) and read 7179 times:



Quoting DocLightning (Reply 16):
The JFK Airtrain is a perfect example of a limited system that has a good reason to be elevated. But it can't interline with standard rail because the cars require a linear induction system for propulsion.

Actually, the JFK Airtrain is mostly limited by track geometry and congestion on the mainlines. The plan is for the Airtrain to eventually interline.

Quoting DocLightning (Reply 16):

I don't see how it would be worse than an elevated rail system. Monorail beams are much thinner than elevated rail.

You missed my point. Building any elevated rail, whether Mono or traditional, presents challenges. On the other hand, if you do have the space to build elevated portions, as is being done with much of the Expo Line here in L.A., you are usually better off with traditional rail because you can then mix surface running and mix the lines.

Quoting DocLightning (Reply 16):

What light rail and buses offer in terms of ease of construction they lose in speed and congestion. Buses and trams are subject to traffic and they also clog traffic.

Buses suck. We agree on that. As for light rail, you don't necessarily lose anything if you build a system with its own right-of-way, or at least limited street running.



Mangeons les French fries, mais surtout pratiquons avec fierte le French kiss
User currently offlineDocLightning From United States of America, joined Nov 2005, 20334 posts, RR: 59
Reply 19, posted (5 years 1 month 2 days 2 hours ago) and read 7138 times:



Quoting N1120A (Reply 18):

Actually, the JFK Airtrain is mostly limited by track geometry and congestion on the mainlines. The plan is for the Airtrain to eventually interline.

How? It has a linear induction system. Interline with what?

Quoting N1120A (Reply 18):
As for light rail, you don't necessarily lose anything if you build a system with its own right-of-way, or at least limited street running.

Yeah, but those separate rights-of-way get expensive. And they use up space. So most systems I've seen don't have their own rights-of-way and then light rail becomes a set of high-capacity buses that have fixed routes. Melbourne and SF are perfect examples. During rush hour, I've actually out-walked some of the SF trams.


User currently offlineN1120A From United States of America, joined Dec 2003, 26785 posts, RR: 75
Reply 20, posted (5 years 1 month 2 days 2 hours ago) and read 7133 times:



Quoting DocLightning (Reply 19):
Yeah, but those separate rights-of-way get expensive. And they use up space. So most systems I've seen don't have their own rights-of-way and then light rail becomes a set of high-capacity buses that have fixed routes.

Really doesn't apply in the OP's example, and limited street running can avoid most congestion while making construction more practical.



Mangeons les French fries, mais surtout pratiquons avec fierte le French kiss
User currently offlineJetstar From United States of America, joined May 2003, 1662 posts, RR: 10
Reply 21, posted (5 years 1 month 2 days 1 hour ago) and read 7104 times:
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Quoting DocLightning (Reply 19):
Quoting N1120A (Reply 18):

Actually, the JFK Airtrain is mostly limited by track geometry and congestion on the mainlines. The plan is for the Airtrain to eventually interline.

How? It has a linear induction system. Interline with what?

Early plans took the line not only to JFK but north from Jamaica to La Guardia Airport, linking to the IRT Flushing Line. Construction began in 1998 for completion in 2002, but was delayed by the derailment of a test train in September 2002, killing operator Kelvin DeBorgh. The system finally opened after over a year's delay on December 17, 2003.

AirTrain JFK uses the same advanced light rapid transit technology from Bombardier as the rapid transit systems of SkyTrain in Vancouver, Canada and Putra LRT in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It draws power from a third rail and a linear induction motor pushes magnetically against an aluminum strip in the center of the track. This power systems was based on the Intermediate Capacity Transportation System or ICTS developed by the Urban Transportation Development Corporation or UTDC (now owned by Bombardier) for the Scarborough RT (TTC).

An extension has been proposed to lower Manhattan using the Atlantic Avenue Branch to downtown Brooklyn, and then one of three possibilities to Manhattan: the BMT Joralemon Street Tunnel , the IND Cranberry Street Tunnel , or a new tunnel. This would provide faster service to the airport via a one-seat ride, as well as LIRR service to lower Manhattan via a transfer at Jamaica. Baggage could be checked in Manhattan and transferred directly to planes. Hybrid vehicles that can run on the AirTrain, Subway and LIRR tracks would be required.

JetStar


User currently offline787seattle From United States of America, joined Feb 2008, 641 posts, RR: 0
Reply 22, posted (5 years 1 month 2 days 1 hour ago) and read 7101 times:



Quoting Seb146 (Reply 4):
Even when I lived in SEA, I would rarely see locals using it.

I totally agree with you. Of the few times I've had the chance to ride the monorail, it's usually never full. I noticed that especially this summer. It's also had several incidents including a fire and

Quoting 2707200X (Thread starter):
Not as accessible as the bus.

If you also mean not as accessible for safety reasons, this is also true with the Seattle one. IIRC, there was a picture in the Seattle Times of firemen helping passengers down onto a firetruck when the red train stalled (and caught fire) in 2002, 03, and 04.

Wikipedia has some links to newspaper and TV articles at the bottom of this page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seattle_Center_Monorail

I would enjoy Seattle's monorail system if it was more mainline, larger, and if I could use a Metro pass on it.



Student - KELN
User currently offlineCzbbflier From Canada, joined Jul 2006, 980 posts, RR: 2
Reply 23, posted (5 years 1 month 1 day 14 hours ago) and read 7045 times:



Quoting N1120A (Reply 15):
Elevated systems have had success all over the world, including in the US.

This is not intended to be a reminder to N1120A only but rather a reminder to all not to confuse "elevated guideway" with "monorail".

Vancouver, has a system that is mostly elevated on two lines but it is standard rail on an elevated guideway using linear induction technology. It is not a monorail such as the one in Seattle.

Why they have never caught on is beyond my knowledge but there is an element of impracticality that just seems inherent in them (when compared to standard rail).


User currently offlineDocLightning From United States of America, joined Nov 2005, 20334 posts, RR: 59
Reply 24, posted (5 years 1 month 1 day 5 hours ago) and read 6976 times:



Quoting Jetstar (Reply 21):

Early plans took the line not only to JFK but north from Jamaica to La Guardia Airport, linking to the IRT Flushing Line.

Right, but that's not interlining, that's connecting. I don't think the airtrains have a loading gauge that is compatible with either IRT or IND/BMT lines, leaving aside the fact that the third rail and propulsion systems are completely different.


25 Mir : Not the IRT, but I think you could fit AirTrain cars on the IND/BMT loading gauge. -Mir
26 Post contains links Tiger119 : - I can not speak with the system in Seattle but (IIRC) the system at WDW can stop between stations, and have in the past. The last time I rode on th
27 Mir : But can the people get off? That's the important part. -Mir
28 Post contains links Signol : There's a similar monorail at Alton Towers theme park in the UK. The two tracks run next to each other, and in between is a metal mesh so that in an
29 Tiger119 : - I do not know if there is an emergency egress plan in place (IE: rope or chain ladders, etc), so, I do not know if they can get out or not, but the
30 DocLightning : Actually, a lot of it is style. In Asia, when an elevated right-of-way is chose, they tend to use monorail. In the Western world, we tend to use conve
31 MSNDC9 : A lot of it is Unions as well. Lots of money to be made in the rail business in fabrication, maintenance and driving them. Monorail can be compeletel
32 Post contains links Af773atmsp : Haven't heard much about the proposed PRT (personal rapid transit) in Minneapolis. Its called Sky Web Express. Exactly like a monorail except there li
33 2707200X : On a travel program I saw in the Travel Channel today a rail catwalk can be installed under the beam to serve as an emergency exit from the train.
34 N1120A : There are plenty of union jobs in a monorail system too, so I really don't see it being that. If anything, the taxi lobby has significantly hurt publ
35 Mir : It's also worth mentioning that monorails require more energy than a similar steel-wheeled train, by virtue of rubber-on-concrete producing more frict
36 ER757 : There was a ballot initiative a few years back to extend it and it actually passed. But the whole thing went so far over budget and was such a boondo
37 Steeler83 : I saw that same program. I particularly liked the line they showed in Germany. It was a suspended monorail line in I forget which city. I don't recal
38 Post contains links 2707200X : I also liked the personal monorail (PRT) system, you can bypass stations and get to where you want to go directly. This would be good to replace publ
39 N1120A : It wasn't going to be "free." They wanted a super long-term concession to operate the monorail and set fares independently, while having the benefits
40 MAH4546 : Not "monorails" per se, but Detroit, Jacksonville and Miami all have elevated train networks downtown using driver-less vehicles that pretty much func
41 Mir : In Jacksonville, it's utter crap - can't even manage 2,000 riders per day (Miami's Metromover gets more than 30,000). Detroit isn't much better - onl
42 DocLightning : Detroit's is a mono-directional loop that basically serves as a fancy parking system covering some 5 square blocks. EWR's monorail is probably more e
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