This was my web site promoting the Seattle Monorail Project, but the project was cancelled in November 2005.
I am maintaining this site for historical reference.

My Ideas for Monorail Train Design

Here I put forward some of my ideas of what I think the new Seattle Monorail trains should be like.

by Bob Fleming

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BASICALLY, I THINK THE TRAINS SHOULD BE SIMILAR TO THOSE CURRENTLY IN USE FOR THE ALWEG SEATTLE CENTER MONORAIL. Those trains are made up of four cars each, and the cars approach light rail cars in roominess. They are wide, have good interior height, have good seating, and permit riders to walk from one car to the next, the whole length of the train.

My opinions on train design are based on comfort, capacity, and consideration for future expansion.

These are my specific opinions:

CAPACITY: I think the new trains should be roomy to hold many passengers. I think the cars should be at least ten feet wide and long enough that a four-car train can be a good substitute for a subway train.

SEATING: I think that the seating should be similar to bus seating, so that a large number of passengers can sit down. I anticipate that there will be many people standing during rush hours; also before and after major events such as ball games and concerts. However I think that at other times there should be sufficient seating so that passengers can really enjoy the ride.

Seats should be perpendicular to the side wall with a central aisle, similar to a bus, so that passengers can easily look out the window. However, since the monorail train will reverse directions at each end of the line, there is no real front or back of the train, so seats should probably be installed in pairs, back to back and facing the next seat, so that groups of four to six people can face each other as a group.

WALK-THROUGH TRAINS: On the Alweg trains the motors and other drive equipment are mounted below the floor. This permits the cars to be coupled together with a virtually continuous floor from one end of the train to the other, so that passengers are free to walk from car to car.

At least one other manufacturer has designed their trains with the driving equipment mounted above the floor at the ends of the cars, so that the ends of each car is closed off. This design permits a lower and sleeker design for the trains, but riders can not move from car to car.

I strongly believe that the new Seattle Monorail trains should be designed so that passengers can walk through the train from car to car. One advantage of this is so that if too many passengers board one car and not enough are in another car, passengers can move about to even up the distribution of passengers in a train. Or, if in the rush to board a train, some people in a family or other group enter one car and others enter the adjacent car, they can rejoin each other once inside the train.

I am also thinking of the future. What if, several years from now, ridership has grown to the point where trains are frequently overloaded. One option would be to add cars to the trains, but then the trains would be too long for station platforms designed for four-car trains. With a walk-through train, passengers could enter four cars and then spread out into the other cars.

WHAT ABOUT THE FUTURE? I am hoping that the Seattle Monorail Project will be the first step of a much larger system serving not only the City of Seattle, but also other parts of the region, extending to Marysville, Redmond, Issaquah, Tacoma, and other places. So, to me, it is not enough just to think of what is good for the Green Line, but also what happens when the system is extended many miles. Perhaps somebody won't mind so much if they have to stand during a ten-minute trip from Downtown to Ballard, but this could become a bit of an ordeal on a thirty-minute trip to the suburbs. This same reasoning applies to much else in the design. We shouldn't just plan for the Green Line, but always keep in mind that the Green Line will be setting standards that will apply to future longer lines.

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©2003 Robert M. Fleming Jr.

This page was last updated on 20 March 2013

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