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Old March 2nd, 2014, 09:36 AM   #1241
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Hm, no that's not fair. I've been on a number of monorails and I thought the Chiba and Tama monorails were fine in terms of ride quality. I'd say they're no less bumpy than a rubber-tyred metro.
I don't think rubber tyred metro's are such a great ride either. But the point is what does monorail so much better to justify introducing yet another system to LA? The only reason I could come up with would be a Connector Monorail for LAX.
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Old March 2nd, 2014, 04:51 PM   #1242
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One more time, the reason monorail would be rejected as an option in Los Angeles, and just about any other US city, is that it is considered a proprietary technology. This situation will remain until the major monorail manufacturers, agree to produce trains to a common standard, so that trains built by Hitachi, Scomi, Bombardier, and any other monorail manufacturer can operate on the same guideway.

When the monorail is mentioned in discussion forums, there are a standard set of objections that are voiced. One standard objection is that monorail has poor ride quality, yet the ride quaility generally isn't any worse than most rubber-tired metros, and some monorail trains actually offer very good ride quality, especially the Hitachi trains. Another standard objection is that there are problems with monorail track switches, yet there are plenty of examples of monorail track switches that operate quickly and efficiently.

The standard objection that keeps recurring in this thread is that monorail would introduce an additional transit mode in Los Angeles, yet this wasn't an objection when Los Angeles decided to build a north-south trunk line (Blue Line) as light rail at the same time it was building an east-west trunk line (Red Line) as a metro. The interoperability issue also doesn't seem to be a concern with the present push to downtown streetcar loop. This situation is actually very common. The following is a snapshot of the interoperability situation in a few US and Canadian cities.

Boston - The Blue Line subway trains must be equipped to receive power from both third rail and overhead wire. The Red Line and Orange Line subways both use third rail but can't share equipment because platform clearances are different. The various branches of the Green Line light rail system do share trains with each other, but not with the Mattapan High-Speed Line, which requires lighter weight vehicles.

New York - The former IRT lines (lines denoted with numbers) and PATH lines use trains built to a different standard than the former BMT and IND lines (lines denoted with letters). Adding to the mix is the recent JFK Airtrain line, which uses automated trains powered by linear induction motors (LIM), which is totally incompatible with the other lines. There are periodic proposals to build streetcars in various areas of Manhattan and Brooklyn, and there are also proposals to build light rail on Staten Island. Again, interoperability isn't a concern.

Philadelphia - The Market-Frankford subway line features a narrower track gauge than the Broad Street Line and PATCO Line. The subway trains of the Broad Street Line and PATCO Line might be able to interoperate, though I understand that their signaling systems are different. Interoperation between the two lines wouldn't happen anyway as they are operated by different agencies. The Norristown High-Speed Line features high-level platforms and third rail power like a subway; however, it is operated with single-car trains that are considered light rail. There are two streetcar networks. The Subway-Surface Lines use single-ended cars. The Red Arrow Lines require double-ended cars because there are no turn-around loops at the ends of the line.

Baltimore - There is an east-west line that is a metro, and a north south line that is light rail. The light rail line is operated with high-floor trains. A second light rail line is in the planning stages. It will be operated with low-floor trains and will not share equipment with the existing light rail line.

Chicago - All the lines of the "L" now can operate the same equipment. The Yellow Line (Skokie Swift) prior to 2004 required trains equipped to receive power from both third rail and overhead wire. The line has now been converted to third rail along its entire length despite the existence of some grade crossings, which are accommodated with a gap in the third rail. There has been at least one lawsuit involving a drunk who was electrocuted when he wandered onto the right of way and urinated on the third rail.

San Francisco - All BART trains are interoperable, but they are not standard gauge. The Muni Metro light rail trains have a folding step system that allows them to serve both high-level and low-level platforms. The light rail trains cannot operate on the Market Street Railway F-Line because their pantographs would foul the two-wire power supply used for trolley buses. The historic trolleys used on the F-Line would not be able to serve the high-level platforms in the downtown transit tunnel that is used by the light rail lines. Also, many of the historic trolleys are single-ended, which would be a problem at some of the light rail terminus stations. The light rail trains used in San Jose are too large to operate on the light rail lines in San Francisco, plus they are designed to serve only low-level platforms.

Los Angeles - As noted above, the light rail Blue Line was the first of the new transit lines to be built in the city. Next was the Red/Purple metro line(s), which use third-rail powered subway cars. Next after that was the light rail Green Line, which is grade-separated and was built with a signaling system for automated operation. Then came the Gold Line, which is light rail but uses a third type of signaling system. At least the platform heights and clearances are the same for the three light rail lines. Los Angeles is fixing the problem of having different signaling systems on each of the three light rail lines with new light rail vehicles that are equipped with all three signaling systems. Now there is a push for a downtown streetcar loop, which would not share equipment with any other line.

St. Louis - There is an existing light rail system that uses high-floor vehicles serving stations with high-floor platforms. When funding becomes available, there is a plan to build a new light rail line that will use low-floor vehicles.

Portland - Despite the existence of the light rail system, transit planners chose to build a streetcar system that requires lighter-weight vehicles. The lines actually cross but do not share equipment.

Seattle - The ultimate plan is for the Link light rail system under construction in Seattle to meet the Tacoma Link streetcar line in Seattle; however, the Link light rail trains require different platform clearances and a different voltage than the streetcars used for Tacoma Link. The South Lake Union Streetcar uses the same vehicles as Tacoma Link and again will not interoperate with the Link light rail system. An additional streetcar line is being built to serve the First Hill neighborhood. It was once hoped that the First Hill Line would connect to the Waterfront Streetcar that was closed when its maintenance shed was bulldozed to make way for a sculpture garden; however, the Waterfront streetcar line used heritage streetcars from Melbourne and would have had to be rebuilt to the standards of the new First Hill line.

Vancouver - The existing Skytrain system is LIM powered. The new RAV/Canada is conventionally powered. The two could not share equipment anyway due to differences in platform clearances. There was a plan to build the future Coquitlam/Evergreen line as light rail, which would have introduced a third standard, but the plan was changed and the line is now being built as an extension of Skytrain.

Toronto - Most subway lines use the same equipment except for the Scarborough RT, which uses LIM powered trains. The streetcar system obviously does not share equipment with either. There are plans to rebuild the Scarborough RT as part of a new light rail network that would use modern low-floor LRVs. As far as I can tell, the new light rail network would be separate from the existing streetcar system and would not share equipment.
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Old March 2nd, 2014, 05:37 PM   #1243
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Hm, no that's not fair. I've been on a number of monorails and I thought the Chiba and Tama monorails were fine in terms of ride quality. I'd say they're no less bumpy than a rubber-tyred metro.
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Old March 2nd, 2014, 06:58 PM   #1244
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Monorail would offer higher capacity than light rail at less cost than a metro...
So what would the actual advantage be in real numbers? How much less expensive are we talking relative to the capacity?

If we were to compare an elevated metro system or monorail system with an equal capacity of say, 30,000 pphpd, how much would monorail save?
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Old March 3rd, 2014, 02:24 AM   #1245
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Real world data is extremely rare for monorail and conventional rail planned for the same city along similar corridors during the same time period. The one case that I know of for which cost information is publicly available is Seattle, for which the aborted Green Line monorail was bid at the same time construction was getting under way for the initial segment of the Central Link light rail system. The initial segment of Central Link featured a mix of tunnels, at-grade, and elevated sections. Except for an at-grade segment in the Rainier Valley, Central Link probably could have been built as a metro. Both the Green Line monorail and the Central Link initial segment were planned for a ridership on the order of 50,000 boardings per day. The projected ridership numbers vary depending on the source. The following is a summary of the cost numbers for the two projects:

Green Line Monorail - 2005 Contract Price Design-Build Cost
$1.615 billion / 14 miles = $115 million/mile

Central Link Light Rail - Initial Segment
$2.44 billion / 13.9 miles = $176 million/mile

Light rail advocates will object to the above comparison by noting that the Central Link initial segment featured two tunnels and the station platforms and electrical infrastructure were sized to provide additional capacity for future extensions of the line. Light rail advocates will also note that the Green Line monorail bid featured just a single beam guideway at either end. Monorail advocates will counter that one of Central Link's tunnels (the downtown transit tunnel) already existed prior to the construction of the line, and that the monorail featured two water crossings while the initial segment of Central Link featured none. Monorail advocates will further note that the Hitachi trains were really over-size for the monorail line, and that an aborted bid by a consortium with Bombardier as the train bidder was claimed to be substantially cheaper at approximately $1.3 billion. The Bombardier bid was aborted following a dispute over legal liability requirements. Ultimately, the Hitachi bid was judged unaffordable based on the tax revenue stream available to it and the monorail project was killed.

The Green Line monorail was the result of a grassroots effort to get a transit line built in the city. This was partly in response to the delays and false starts by the local transit agency (Sound Transit) in the construction of Central Link. Had Sound Transit planned the Green Line, monorail probably would never have been seriously considered due to the proprietary technology issue.
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Old March 3rd, 2014, 06:01 AM   #1246
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Monorail cost less, faster to build and space efficient. Look at Sao Paulo monorail, 7 cars and driverless. Now that's cool!
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Old March 3rd, 2014, 06:37 AM   #1247
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Quote:
Originally Posted by greg_christine View Post
Real world data is extremely rare for monorail and conventional rail planned for the same city along similar corridors during the same time period. The one case that I know of for which cost information is publicly available is Seattle, for which the aborted Green Line monorail was bid at the same time construction was getting under way for the initial segment of the Central Link light rail system. The initial segment of Central Link featured a mix of tunnels, at-grade, and elevated sections. Except for an at-grade segment in the Rainier Valley, Central Link probably could have been built as a metro. Both the Green Line monorail and the Central Link initial segment were planned for a ridership on the order of 50,000 boardings per day. The projected ridership numbers vary depending on the source. The following is a summary of the cost numbers for the two projects:

Green Line Monorail - 2005 Contract Price Design-Build Cost
$1.615 billion / 14 miles = $115 million/mile

Central Link Light Rail - Initial Segment
$2.44 billion / 13.9 miles = $176 million/mile

Light rail advocates will object to the above comparison by noting that the Central Link initial segment featured two tunnels and the station platforms and electrical infrastructure were sized to provide additional capacity for future extensions of the line. Light rail advocates will also note that the Green Line monorail bid featured just a single beam guideway at either end. Monorail advocates will counter that one of Central Link's tunnels (the downtown transit tunnel) already existed prior to the construction of the line, and that the monorail featured two water crossings while the initial segment of Central Link featured none. Monorail advocates will further note that the Hitachi trains were really over-size for the monorail line, and that an aborted bid by a consortium with Bombardier as the train bidder was claimed to be substantially cheaper at approximately $1.3 billion. The Bombardier bid was aborted following a dispute over legal liability requirements. Ultimately, the Hitachi bid was judged unaffordable based on the tax revenue stream available to it and the monorail project was killed.

The Green Line monorail was the result of a grassroots effort to get a transit line built in the city. This was partly in response to the delays and false starts by the local transit agency (Sound Transit) in the construction of Central Link. Had Sound Transit planned the Green Line, monorail probably would never have been seriously considered due to the proprietary technology issue.
I agree it will be very difficult to find examples of equivalent real world systems to compare and contrast, but then the question remains what exactly is driving monorail advocates to believe that monorail is going to be significantly less expensive. If there have been so few systems built for us to get a good sense of the real world construction costs, then how do we actually know it will be cheaper?

Bids can give some indication, but of course bids are projected costs provided by prospective suppliers with the intent to win contracts and don't actually demonstrate the manufacturer's ability to deliver at the projected cost.

I would assume there is some very compelling and enticing information out there in order for monorail advocates to be so adamant.
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Old March 3rd, 2014, 03:31 PM   #1248
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Look in the SAO PAULO Public Transport thread. Look in the MUMBAI Monorail thread.
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Old March 3rd, 2014, 07:30 PM   #1249
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I'm not an advocate of new monorails, however, Moscow and Beijing are building and/or utilising them now too if you are looking for case studies. Unlike Greg, I also like light rail transport, but do believe monorails can serve as part of a transport network having actually used the things.
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Old March 3rd, 2014, 07:38 PM   #1250
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Don't put words in my mouth. I never stated that I didn't like light rail. I only stated that I did't think light rail offered the capacity needed for the Blue Line and Expo Line in Los Angeles.
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Old March 3rd, 2014, 09:44 PM   #1251
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Monorails in Los Angeles for public transportation could work, but it can come at the expense of accessibility... to me, the LA Metro could allocate funding for a test run of the monorail (and it needs so much money for specialized trains, dedicated tracks, and brand new yards, as well as determining fares, transfer policies, and promoting the line), yet we need to determine what the economic effects of it would be in the long run. We need to especially consider fleet management and maintenance, rail maintenance, station layout and community designs over time, and addressing environmental concerns, especially earthquakes. It could model after what's being done in Japan, yet, the Metro bus network should be enhanced further to serve the monorail lines if it is ever going to materialize.
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Old March 3rd, 2014, 10:44 PM   #1252
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One standard objection is that monorail has poor ride quality, yet the ride quaility generally isn't any worse than most rubber-tired metros
I do not really prefer riding a rubber-tired metro either.

But I agree with you that the strongest argument is indeed the proprietary nature of the systems. And I think this is a really significant argument in fact. Is there anything going to happen in this regard? If not, I don't see a bright monorail future happening.

Switches might work quickly and efficiently but I think it is hard to deny that they are a disadvantage of the system compared to rail based modes.

Quote:
The standard objection that keeps recurring in this thread is that monorail would introduce an additional transit mode in Los Angeles, yet this wasn't an objection when Los Angeles decided to build a north-south trunk line (Blue Line) as light rail at the same time it was building an east-west trunk line (Red Line) as a metro.
Light rail as a second system makes sense as it is perfect for mid-capacity secondary routes. In Los Angeles of course one could have argued that insted of light rail one should have built the Blue Line also as Metro line. Light rail was chosen for cost reasons I guess. I doubt monorail can keep up with light rail on a full life cycle basis (incl. maintenance) with not completely grade separated light rail. Of course it might serve high speeds but LA apparently did not want to afford that. Now that there are several light rail lines already established, and a metro, and a BRT. I don't think one should add monorail to the list just for the sake of it.
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Old March 4th, 2014, 12:26 AM   #1253
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When was the last time you changed terminals at a large airport and the vehicle that you rode was a streetcar or light rail vehicle?

The specification for an an airport people mover system calls for high frequency service that is fully automated. The system capacity is often comparable to a public transit line. Vendor proposals are evaluated based on both the initial construction cost and the operations and maintenance cost. That the technology might be proprietary is not a concern. Sometimes if the route is short and simple the selected technology is a cable-pulled system. Often the selected technology is a rubber-tired people mover. New York JFK has a steel-wheeled LIM-powered system. Tampa and Newark have monorails. I don't know of any airports that use streetcars or light rail vehicles. It wouldn't be cost effective to have a system that requires onboard staff.

The following are the websites of some people mover vendors. Bombardier groups monorail and LIM with its people mover systems under the Innovia trade name.

https://www.swe.siemens.com/france/w...s/Default.aspx

http://www.doppelmayr.com/en/products/cable-liner/

http://www.intaminworldwide.com/tran...E/Default.aspx

http://www.mitsubishitoday.com/peopl.../2295/pid/2295

http://www.bombardier.com/en/transpo...le-movers.html

http://www.bombardier.com/en/transpo...monorails.html

http://www.bombardier.com/en/transpo...ed-metros.html
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Old March 4th, 2014, 12:51 AM   #1254
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When was the last time you changed terminals at a large airport and the vehicle that you rode was a streetcar or light rail vehicle?
I have to admit I relatively rarely change terminals at large airports. But the last times I did I think it was by airport bus. Tbh, I'd prefer monorail or other automated people mover over that though.

I'm aware of the popularity for people mover systems in airports. I have no idea if all of them can be classified as monorail. IMHO, LAX would be therefore also the only place were a monorail would make sense, as connector of the terminals and the light rail station.

I would be interested to know however why automated rail based systems aren't used in those cases were a grade separated automated people mover are used. I doubt full life cycle costs are so much higher.

Integrating the terminals into an extended light rail line would also make sense, even if it means having a driver. Some airports have metro lines stopping at more than one terminal for example as well.
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Old March 4th, 2014, 03:54 AM   #1255
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Why would you believe that life cycle costs aren't higher for steel-rail systems?

For a rubber-tired system, the structure provides the running surface directly. For steel-wheel systems, the rail system has to be added on top of the structure. It is true that rubber-tires have a limited life, but they are relatively cheap to replace, and steel wheels and rails also require maintenance.
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Old March 4th, 2014, 09:15 AM   #1256
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I'm not an advocate of new monorails, however, Moscow and Beijing are building and/or utilising them now too if you are looking for case studies. Unlike Greg, I also like light rail transport, but do believe monorails can serve as part of a transport network having actually used the things.
Moscow monrail is a kind of disaster, though it has nothing to do with monorail as concept, but rather with bad choice of monorail system and rolling stock.
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Old March 4th, 2014, 08:18 PM   #1257
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Don't put words in my mouth. I never stated that I didn't like light rail. I only stated that I did't think light rail offered the capacity needed for the Blue Line and Expo Line in Los Angeles.
Part of the problem is that people too often use the term "light rail" as having to infer no same direction train passing capabilities. Steel wheeled vehicles that have at least 3, but preferably 4 tracks at some stations, can move far more people per hour at higher average speeds than do 2 tracks stations on 2 track main lines. In addition, too often people expect light rail to also have street running, which encourages tight radius turns, and, low platforms. If "light rail" has dedicated right-of-way and does not have parallel running with freight, the difference between light and commuter rail becomes hazy.

If "light rail" is to cover a mix of street and dedicated right of way running, then, high platform stations should be encouraged on streets (see Calgary for a good example) which would permit platform to platform transfer in 3 or more tracked stations on dedicated right of way.

Ideally, two track street level high platform stations have off-set platforms and trains meet head to head, with gently sloping ramps accessing each platform.

I think too many US transit planners do not see beyond semantics.
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Old March 4th, 2014, 09:29 PM   #1258
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Why would you believe that life cycle costs aren't higher for steel-rail systems?

For a rubber-tired system, the structure provides the running surface directly. For steel-wheel systems, the rail system has to be added on top of the structure. It is true that rubber-tires have a limited life, but they are relatively cheap to replace, and steel wheels and rails also require maintenance.
I had the impression that maintenance of road infrastructure is more expensive than maintenance of rail infrastructure (at least if you want to evade a very bumpy ride). Of course this is somewhat theoretical for mixed use surfaces but still. It is the busses that wear of the roads most, more than the much lighter cars. In Vienna, all new roads with bus service are part concrete, in all places where frequent acceleration/deceleration is expected. That probably reduces the maintenance demand but of probably means higher initial costs.

I am not an expert on it, but calculations that don't include these factors are not giving a true picture of costs and they might be significant, thats why I talked about the full life cycle costs.
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Old March 4th, 2014, 09:56 PM   #1259
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Moscow monrail is a kind of disaster, though it has nothing to do with monorail as concept, but rather with bad choice of monorail system and rolling stock.
I think that part of this particular problem relates to how little urban transit planners know about monorail (and all other forms of public transportation to a greater or lesser extent).

Perhaps eager transit planners might only look at monorails two dimensionally as if looking from above down on a map, that is, as a means to stay above roads and the street level, rather than as an integrated transportation system with various drive systems, monorail designs, etc. Consequently, they, like most of us, tend to fall for advertisements that are provided by manufacturers*, rather than even bothering to understand the "nuts and bolts" of it.

Give me a great automobile mechanic who can use diagnostic equipment, and, I'll have more real mechanical awareness that most public transit planning departments- and it is this awareness that understands what the various mechanical systems mean.

Obviously, there are good and bad monorail transportation systems.

As a side note: almost every nation and city has steel rail transportation, so it is easier to get local hands on expertise. Regrettably, most such 'experts' are never sought after.

*and related offers for engineering and site templates.
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Old March 4th, 2014, 11:17 PM   #1260
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Well, you are right, monorail was part of Moscow claim for hosting World EXPO, so somehow they ended up with system of rather limited capacity, designed rather for moving people inside theme park (though a really big one), than a proper . No big surprise, that after initial demo-period with segregated fare, when integrated fare were introduced, it failed to comply with demand.
The result for monorail reputation was really bad, several other projects was never started. And the fact, that area already had a vivid light-rail network (though dated), so anyone with a grain of common sense understood that refubrishing and extending that system, instead of vasting lot of money on monorail - it didn't help improving public perception of monorail either.
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