Here I put forward some of my ideas for good design of a Seattle monorail system.
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 routes
(PRT) Personal Rapid Transit
Frequently asked questions
Links to other monorail sites
Other Sites of MineA Greater Seattle My mobility web site My transportation web site My mass transit web site The Fleming Family home page
ROUTING: I strongly believe that the primary purpose of the monorail system should be to provide high-speed transportation over fairly long distances. With that in mind, the routes should be as short and direct as possible. But, in order to serve as many people as possible, the routes should be planned so that the locations of the stations will attract as many riders as possible. Such locations include:
So, on one hand, there should be an effort to plan the routes to serve as many people as possible, and on the other hand to have the route as straight and direct as possible. The goal is to strike a balance between the two objectives. The more the route is twisted one way or another to connect areas to serve, the less direct it becomes and defeats the major objective of high-speed service over a longer distance. It will be necessary to reject some promising service areas in order to provide the high-speed service. There is also the possibility of using PRT (Personal Rapid Transit) to interconnect the monorail with destinations near the monorail stations.
ALIGNMENT: I believe that as much as possible the monorail should be routed along streets that have two-way left-turn lanes or central medians, with the pylons placed in the left-turn lanes or medians. Many of the main streets in the Seattle area have two-way left-turn lanes down the middle, designated for use (carefully) by drivers travelling either direction to move into the two-way left-turn lane to make left turns into driveways and parking lots. The main advantages of using two-way left-turn lanes for placing the monorail pylons are that it does not require loss of any adjacent homes or businesses because the street does not have to be widened, and it eliminates the cost of purchasing real estate, greatly reducing the cost per mile and permitting a longer line for the same cost.
The two-way left-turn lanes or medians already provide a more-or-less continuous strip down the middle of the street that separates the traffic moving in opposite directions. The pylons that support the monorail can be placed in the two-way left-turn lanes or medians without interfering with through traffic. The pylons would tend to interfere with some vehicles turning left. However, by careful planning, the pylons can be placed in positions that do not interfere with vehicles turning left into driveways and parking lots, except perhaps in a few cases where there are too many driveways or parking lot entrances too close together.
Usually at intersecting streets the two-way left-turn lanes give way to regular one-way left turn lanes dedicated to traffic turning left onto the intersecting street. At these locations the pylons should not be placed in the left turn lanes. If the left turn lanes are short and the intersecting street is narrow, it may be possible to place the pylons just beyond the ends of the left-turn lanes and still have a short enough spacing between the pylons to support the monorail beams. If the left-turn lanes are too long and/or the intersection too wide, so that the pylons would be too far apart to support the monorail beams, then we have a situation the same as the condition where there is no two-way left-turn lane or median, covered below.
STREETS WITH NO TWO-WAY LEFT-TURN LANE OR MEDIAN: If the monorail uses a street that has no two-way left-turn lane or central median, then the options include widening the street about two feet (about 70 cm) on each side (or four feet on one side) in order to create a strip down the center to accomodate the monorail pylons, use straddle bents, beams that straddle the street to support the monorail beams. It may also be possible to create a 4- or 5-foot wide median between opposing directions of traffic to permit placement of pylons alongside the left turn lane.
ROUTING NOT FOLLOWING STREETS: In some cases the routing of the monorail may require it to deviate from public roadways. I think that in these cases an effort should be made to utilize, as much as possible, public land such as parks, school property, etc. Use of such lands poses the risk of interfering with use of the property, but I think that in most cases the interference can be minimized by careful placement of the monorail along the periphery of the property or through areas where the monorail would not have a significant impact. Keep in mind that only the pylons would take up space on the ground. The guideway would be up in the air and there would still be space underneath for activities.
DESIGN OF THE PYLONS AND BEAMS: The beams should be far enough apart at all locations so that there is no danger of trains on parallel beams touching each other.
THE TRAINS: I think that the trains should be about the same size as the Alweg trains on the Seattle Center Monorail. To me the monorail takes the place of subway or light rail trains in other cities, and should have similar capacity. I also think that the trains should have good seating for good views out the windows and avoid the need for passengers to stand except during rush hours or for major events such as ball games or concerts. Click here for details about my ideas on trains.
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©2002 Robert M. Fleming Jr.
This page was last updated on 9 May 2016