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1286The only good monorail, is an old monorail (maybe).

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  • Eric Britton
    Jan 30, 2010
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      Dear Ashok and others,


      Thanks for sharing that Times of India article. Glad to see that someone is pointing out one or two of the downsides of this inappropriate project.


      But I am somewhat disappointed that no one on our Sustran list thus far seems to want to step forward and help us enumerate all the reasons why monorails are such a brain dead concept.


      Someone tell me that I am wrong, but among the many flagrant disadvantages/absurdities of the monorail concept for cities, include:


      1.    They cost far too much money given the level of service they provide

      2.    They don't (really) go anywhere (i.e., where they are needed in a many-to-many world)

      3.    Good transportation is supposed to be as close to seamless as we can make it – and they are anything but, cut off from the rest as they are by definition

      4.    Limited capacity (per buck spent)

      5.    They are a visual intrusion (scar) on the city scape

      6.    The ignore, they actually degrade the street in many ways – which is the very heart of the city

      7.    They are, to a pylon, to a track, to a car, to a station, ugly as sin (my old grandmother's expression).

      8.    If they need switches, the space requirement becomes complicated.

      9.    Emergencies are very messy.

      10. They don't do the basic job that is needed.

      11. They saddle the city with debt.

      12. To be "cost effective" (ho ho), they cannot provide affordable service for the majority

      13. They are not sustainable by any measure

      14. They are often the project of industrial-financial-political interest alliances and even, if one digs deep, corruption. (As so often is the case with big ticket transport and other public investments.)


      By the way, did anyone note that almost to the day as Mumbai joyously welcomed their first test car the Las Vegas Monorail Co has filed for bankruptcy?  Just thought I would mention it.


      In summary: They are so awful, so thoroughly dysfunctional that I even have difficulty in anyone trying to justify them (or not) in terms of anything like "relative CO2 efficiency". This I see as a splendid project for a MA of PhD student sharpening their tools, but when it comes to the politics of transportation they defy common sense.


      So out they go.


      (I invite comment and corrections as always).


      Eric Britton


      PS. Ask me what's better, what gives more sustainable transport bang per buck than a monorail?





      From: ashok mundkur [mailto:ashok_mundkur@...]
      Sent: Saturday, 30 January, 2010 07:34

      Some data  re: Metro Vs Mono rail presented in today's Mumbai edition of Times of India that may be of interest to you ..... in case U haven't seen it...



      From: phaizan@...
      Date: Fri, 29 Jan 2010 19:58:39 +0530

      Please take a look at the forwarded email. The final nail in the coffin of monorail, in maverick Eric Britton style.


      ---------- Forwarded message ----------
      From: Eric Britton <
      Date: Fri, Jan 29, 2010 at 7:38 PM

      The only good monorail, is an old monorail (maybe). Schwebebahn Wuppertal
      since 1901->

      Monorails? There is something almost touching about avarice and stupidity
      when they get together and blatantly hang out there for all to see.

      I first looked at monorails for city transport of all kinds of types and
      stripes back in 1970, and on a number of grounds they looked awful then and
      they still do today. I have my own long list on this, but if you wish we
      might have some fun starting a collaborative list under the title of
      something very elegant such as "Why monorails suck".

      I am amazed that these discussions are still taking place and that there are
      cities and eventual sponsors that take them seriously. There is a monorail
      mafia that shows up wherever at the drop of a hat to show their stuff, often
      offering generous credits and other forms of compensation to see that their
      job gets done. I haven't made an effort to keep up. But I do remember some
      recent salvoes in parts of India, also Bogota, São Paulo, Curitiba, and a
      certain number of US cities that just don't know when to let a bad idea go.
      (Check out the historical stuff on this in the Wikipedia. Pretty good.)

      What I don't understand is why they are not simply laughed at and set aside
      for more serous things.

      But then again, perhaps there is something that I fail to understand.

      Educate me.
      Eric Britton

      PS. Here's a nice exercise for you if you wish to dig a bit. Go to the New
      Mobility Partnerships at
      www.newmobility.org and on the top menu click
      Knoogle (yes, it's an ugly word) and once there pop in "monorail". This will
      then take you on a lightning  survey of more than eight hundred sources,
      projects and pogroms looking at sustainable and at times unsustainable
      transport in countries around the world. Interesting.


      On Behalf Of Walter Hook
      Sent: Friday, 29 January, 2010 00:43


      we are developing these parameters for BRT also, and there is also a give
      back on co2 from construction, though usually its smaller, and if you need
      to build the elevated BRT (like they are doing in Ahmadabad in places) there
      is a lot of concrete there also.  its not a BRT/mrt thing.  i am trying to
      integrate the evaluation criteria to look at mrt and brt and other options
      using similar methods.  i am in Guangzhou for the opening of the BRT here
      and one very nice feature is its integration with the metro system, maybe
      the first time we get nice full integration.  the BRT is not on a corridor
      with mrt in the long term plan, so its additional and not competitive.


      On Thu, Jan 28, 2010 at 6:24 PM, <
      bruun@...> wrote:

      Walter raises an important issue. There is indeed a payback time. But it
      isn't necessarily 20 years for systems that have frequent service and carry
      large numbers
      of people all day. And even when it is 20 years, keep in mind that metros
      and railways
      are around for a century or more. The tunnel for the first line in London.
      the Metropolitan
      Railway, was opened in 1863 and is still in service today. That is true

      If the point is that BRT avoids this problem, we have been over this before.
      Points to consider:

      1) Sometimes a tunnel is the only way to get both decent capacity and high
      performance to the places
      that need it. Once a tunnel is needed anyway, the case for rail strengthens.

      2) I heard the presentation at WRI about Ahmedabad two weeks ago where the
      speaker said "build BRT,study Metro" which got laughs from the audience. I
      point out that just the opposite also happens. "Build Metro, study BRT" was
      the case in Delhi. This difference in incubation time must be taken into
      consideration when evaluating the carbon reduction. How much extra would
      have been emitted waiting for the go-ahead for the first BRT line?

      3) What are the real options on the table? If the choice is between building
      a Metro and building a highway, I will take the Metro. If the choice is
      between BRT and Metro, then it needs to be studied closer. I don't
      automatically pick either one.

      Eric Bruun



      Quoting Walter Hook <

      sudhir from CAI Asia just ran some numbers for metro projects and CO2.  If
      you include all the construction related CO2, they come out negative for a
      large number of years, and to get positive co2 impact you need to push the
      project time line out something like 20 years or more. i imagine monorails
      would not be quite as concrete intensive but may be close.   Interesting to
      note the mention of Lanzhou.



      On Thu, Jan 28, 2010 at 6:20 AM, Eric Britton

      Mumbai monorail project looks to reduce CO2 emissions

      By Lisa Sibley
      Published 2010-01-27 09:22


      Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia-based Scomi Group, a global service provider mainly
      in the oil and gas industry, said today its trial run of India's first
      monorail car for a project in Mumbai has been a success.

      The Malaysia-listed company also specializes in urban transit systems, with
      an emphasis on India, China, the Gulf states, and Brazil. The trial run
      occurred yesterday, also a national holiday, the Republic Day of India.

      The monorail is expected to prevent 200 tons of carbon dioxide emissions
      daily. The proposed structure is also considered environmentally friendly
      because it won't obstruct sunlight or trap excessive emissions. In
      it's expected to be quieter than other modes of transportation.

      Scomi India's Country President Suhaimi Yaacob said in a news release the
      project's focus is on sustainable mobility, reduced urban congestion,
      improved reliability, and comfortable travel.

      Other cities looking to reduce mass transport emissions include China's
      Lanzhou, which is working on a comprehensive urban development plan linking
      a new city center with a rapid bus transport system, expected to result in
      a cleaner, more economical mass transportation system (see China's Lanzhou
      makes plans to reduce mass transport emissions
      http://cleantech.com/news/5429/lanzhou-mass-transport-system>  [1]).
      Scomi's engineering division and partner Larsen & Toubro, India's largest
      engineering and construction conglomerate, secured $545 million for the
      Mumbai Monorail Project in November 2008, and are expected to complete the
      project by 2011.

      Scomi is tasked with delivering 60 cars, making up 15 sets of four-car
      trains. Each four-coach monorail is expected to be able to accommodate
      about 600 passengers, carrying a total of nearly 300,000 daily commuters.


      The monorail project is expected to have a 20-kilometer (12.4 mile)
      proposed route between Jacob Circle and Chembur, a suburban neighborhood in eastern
      Mumbai, with one central depot and about 18 user-friendly stations. Chembur
      is located about 22 kilometers from downtown Mumbai and considered a
      transit point for travelers to Pune.




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