(Frequently Asked Questions)

About the Seattle Center Monorail Seattle Center Monorail web site Advantages of monorail My opinions about Seattle area monorail Former Seattle Monorail Project A Proposed Regional Monorail System Arguments against monorail and my responses My ideas for monorail system design My ideas for routes (PRT) Personal Rapid Transit Vocabulary Frequently asked questions Links to other monorail sites Contact me

Other Sites of Mine

A Greater Seattle My mobility web site My transportation web site My mass transit web site The Fleming Family home page
Q. Why monorail instead of light rail?
A. There are a number of reasons why monorail is a better solution. Briefly, monorail is faster, is safer, gives a smoother ride, is quieter, is less expensive, doesn't split neighborhoods like a railway does, doesn't require nearly as much right-of-way, results in far less loss of homes and businesses along the route, and should have better results in reducing traffic congestion.
Q. Why monorail instead of a subway?
A. Actually I think a subway is better than monorail. It has most of the advantages of monorail plus it is hidden underground. The view from a monorail is certainly better than tunnel walls, but that is not an important argument. The big problem is that the much higher cost of a subway makes monorail more effective except where there is a very high volume of ridership, such as in New York City or Tokyo.
Q. Why monorail instead of express buses?
A. Actually express buses are an excellent alternative, and I think there should be many express bus routes to supplement monorail, along with local bus service. So why monorail at all? Because buses can still get delayed in traffic and monorail has a higher capacity. I think monorail should be used for main trunk routes with regional express buses serving medium-traffic routes.
Q. If monorail was really such a great idea, why did the people of Seattle vote to stop the project?
A. In the months before the vote to kill the project, there were problems discovered in the financing plans, and a great deal of highly-publicized exaggerations and misinformation from monorail opponents and certain politicians. The monorail board itself also made some serious political blunders. The general public was confused and misled. They voted to kill what many believed was a mismanaged, overpriced, unneeded rip-off.
Q. Would you say that the idea of a monorail has a bad reputation in Seattle now?
A. Yes. In fact when someone opposes a project or plan they often refer to the monorail as an example of a big mistake or failure. The monorail concept has been poisoned in Seattle.
Q. Why is the monorail idea so negative?
A. The monorail plan started off with a lot of promises of improving transportation and convenience, the people of Seattle voted in favor of it four times, but then financial problems and negative publicity brought it down. Meanwhile, vehicle owners collectively paid about $2 million in taxes which was all wasted on a project that was never started. So naturally there are a lot of bad feelings about the project.
Q. Is there any use planning to start over?
A. Yes. Even if the general public and the many opponents don’t realize it, the monorail concept is still a very good one. There still is no substitute for the Green Line from West Seattle to Ballard by way of Downtown. It is needed more than ever with rising fuel prices, new growth in Ballard, and the replacement of the Alaskan Way Viaduct. It is very important to explain to the general public the importance of the monorail, and to make some modifications in the route and design, and to make sure it is properly financed and managed this time.

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©2008 Robert M. Fleming Jr.

This page was last updated on 9 May 2016

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