Highway engineers, railroads, transit planners, and monorail people all use certain words with meanings especially for their profession. We'll try to cut through some of that jargon. I will also include some names and acronyms used in the Seattle Area, especially since this web site is open to visitors all over the world and most will have no idea of what some of the local names refer to.

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

NOTE: There is another vocabulary for general transit terminology.

Alweg - The German company that designed and built the Seattle Center Monorail and several other monorails around the World, including the one at Disneyland. The company later went out of business.

Alweg design - Designed similarly to the monorails designed by the Alweg company.

at grade - Refers to operations along the surface of the ground. Most streets, roads, and railroads are at grade. Designed similarly to the monorails designed by the Alweg company.

beam - The rail that the monorail train runs on.

beamway - The pathway formed by beams placed end to end along which the monorail train operates. Also called a guideway. Equivalent to a track in a railway.

Bombardier - A Canadian company that builds monorails.

CenturyLink Field - A large stadium just south of Downtown Seattle and just north of Safeco Field. CenturyLink Field is the home of the Seattle Seahawks football team. In this case “football” refers to American football. The stadium will also be used for Seattle Sounders soccer matches. Soccer is the game called “football” in most other countries.

column - A vertical supporting post that holds up the monorail guideway. Called a pylon by monorail people.

destination - A place to which people go. For example: Safeco Field is a major destination for baseball fans.

dwell time - The length of time a train or other transit vehicle waits at a station after arriving and until leaving.

Elevated Transportation Company - A company established by the City of Seattle to design a monorail system and place it on the ballot for Seattle voters in the general election of November 2002. Now that the election is over and the monorail has been approved, the Elevated Transportaiton Company has been disbanded and replaced by the Seattle Popular Monorail Authority.

Elliott Bay - A roughly semi-circular bay of Puget Sound. Downtown Seattle is located on Elliott Bay.

ETC - Acronym for Elevated Transportation Company.

grade - 1. The surface of the ground. 2. The steepness of a slope. The train has to go up a 2% grade.

grade-separated - Operating at a level above or below surface traffic, such as subways, the Alaskan Way Viaduct, an elevated railway (such as Vancouver, B.C.'s Sky Train), and, of course, a monorail.

Green Line - The designation given to the first of five monorail lines planned for Seattle. The Green Line was to go from West Seattle to Crown Hill via Downtown Seattle.

guideway - The preferred term for the rail or track upon which the monorail train operates.

headway - The amount of time between the arrival of trains or other transit vehicles. i.e. a headway of five minutes means that a train arrives every five minutes. This could also be defined as the time between departures, or is commonly referred to the time between trains.

Hitachi - A large company in Japan with a wide range of products, including monorails based on the Alweg design.

initiative - Under Washington State law, a specific kind of petition which can be initiated by any citizen and which proposes a new law. Copies of the initiative are made available for people to sign, and if enough registered voters sign the initiative, it must be placed on the ballot to be voted upon in an election.

Key Arena - A large roofed sports arena located at the west side of the Seattle Center. It is the home of the Seattle Supersonics basketball team and the Seattle Storm women’s basketball team. Various other events are also held in Key Arena.

King County - A political subdivision of Washington State. King County includes the large city of Seattle and several smaller cities including Shoreline, Renton, Tukwila, Kent, Auburn, Seatac, Federal Way, Burien, Woodinville, Bothell, Kirkland, Bellevue, Redmond, and Issaquah.

link - 1. In a transportation network, a connection between two nodes. 2. The name that Sound Transit chose to give to their light rail system (see Link Light Rail).

Link Light Rail - The name Sound Transit has given to its light rail system.

node - A point of origin or destination in a transportation system. In the case of the monorail, each station is a node.

origin - A place from which people leave. For example: Downtown Seattle is a major origin of passenger traffic at the end of the work day.

Pierce County - A political subdivision of the State of Washington. Pierce County is the next county south of King County and includes the large city of Tacoma and several smaller cities such as Puyallup, Graham, Orting, Lakewood, and Gig Harbor.

Puget Sound - A large body of water, long north and south and fairly narrow east and west, but highly irregular, that connects with the Pacific Ocean and extends into the interior of the State of Washington. The Seattle area is on the east shore of Puget Sound.

pylon - A vertical column that supports the guideway of a monorail.

Safeco Field - A major-league baseball stadium just south of Downtown Seattle. The home of the Seattle Mariners baseball team.

Seattle Center - A large complex of buildings, amusement rides, fountains, and other attractions located just north of Downtown Seattle. The Seattle Center is approximately 1/3 mile (500 meters) on each side.

Seattle Monorail Project - The name used by the former SPMA (Seattle Popular Monorail Authority) for the project to build a monorail system in Seattle.

Seattle Popular Monorail Authority - The agency established by the City of Seattle to manage the design, construction, and operation of a Seattle monorail system.

Snohomish County - A political subdivision of the State of Washington; the next county north of King County. Cities in Snohomish County include Everett, Marysville, Mukilteo, Monroe, Snohomish, Arlington, Mill Creek, Lynnwood, Edmonds, Mountlake Terrace, and part of Bothell.

Sound Transit - A governmental agency designing and operating a regional rapid transit system for Snohomish, King, and Pierce Counties.

SPMA - The Seattle Popular Monorail Authority.

straddle bent - A large beam with vertical "legs" on each end, shaped somewhat like an upside down and flattened letter “U”, designed to straddle a street so that a monorail guideway can be supported over the street. Straddle bents are usually used in situations where the usual pylon would be in the way, such as in an intersection or where there is no place in the middle of the street that is not a traffic lane.

switch - A device that moves the rails of a railway or the beams of a monorail in such a way that a train can move from one track or guideway to another. Yes, there are switches for monorails!

traction motor - A motor that provides the power to move a train or other vehicle.

Washington, D.C. - A large city on the east coast of the United States. It is the capital of the U.S., and is where the President, Congress, and many government offices are located. It is not the same as the Washington where Seattle is located. It is very far from Seattle. D.C. stands for District of Columbia, a district set aside for the capital of the United States.

Washington State, or State of Washington - One of the 50 states that make up the United States of America. It is located in the northwest corner of the United States by the Pacific Ocean. It is just south of the Canadian province of British Columbia. Seattle is the largest city in the State of Washington. In this web site, the name “Washington” is used alone (without “State”) when it not likely to be confused with Washington, D.C.

Return to the monorail home page Contact Us

©2002 Robert M. Fleming Jr.

This page was last updated on 9 May 2016

Valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional