Each and every day hundreds of thousands of passengers are carried on monorails. Many of the world's transit monorails exist in Japan, eight of which are full-scale urban transit systems. Others exist in Malaysia, Europe, Russia, Korea, China, Brazil, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Singapore and a few in the United States. Several more are either under construction or in advanced planning. Surprisingly, Walt Disney World's Monorail System near Orlando, Florida, has one of the highest riderships of all monorails. Well over 100,000 passenger trips are recorded each day on the 14 miles of beamways (a far higher ridership than most USA light rail systems). Nothing "Mickey Mouse" about that! The system is there to move people between six stations, not just amuse them.
Whether they are of the straddle-beam or suspended variety, modern monorail technology makes derailment virtually impossible. As monorail is elevated, accidents with surface traffic are impossible. Zero accidents with pedestrians or surface traffic translates to no system down time, less liability suits and most importantly, a safer public. Street rail systems with grade crossings (light rail, trams or trollies) can't approach this level of safety, as any study of accident history will show.
Since most monorails are electrically powered, they are non-polluting. In 2007, the Las Vegas Monorail aided in the annual removal of an estimated 3.2 million vehicle miles from Southern Nevadas major roadways and reduced emissions by more than 58 tons of carbon monoxide (CO), volatile organic compounds (VOC) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) over the course of the year. Most monorails run on rubber tires and are very quiet. Monorails are the most aesthetically pleasing of all elevated rail systems. Their sleek design blends in with modern urban environments. Quick construction time results in less disruption to the surrounding environments, whether business or residential. See our environment friendly page for details.
The Tokyo-Haneda Monorail has been operating since 1964. This eight-mile dual-beam system is privately owned and TURNS A PROFIT each year. The Seattle Center Monorail, built in 1962 for the Century 21 exposition, is run by a private corporation. In return for the concession to operate the one-mile line, the corporation pays the city $75,000 every year. What private business would take on a contract like this unless profits were guaranteed? Profit is indeed an oddity in the transit world, as most transit technologies require enormous subsidies from taxpayers. Building monorail does not guarantee profit, but operating costs are almost always less.
Houston Metro selected monorail for its city rail system, only to be cancelled later by the city's mayor. In 2003, Kuala Lumpur opened a spectacular monorail, connecting hot spots throughout the Malaysian city. Okinawa has the newest monorail in Japan, which also opened in 2003. In 2004 Las Vegas opened a four-mile leg of what could become a city-wide monorail system. Mumbai, India opened a new monorail in 2014. No less than three monorail systems have been contracted for Sao Paulo, Brazil! In 2015 Daegu, South Korea opened one of the most spectacular monorails in the world. As this website shows, new systems are in advanced planning or construction in several areas of the world. The Monorail Society keeps members and anyone interested informed with updates on our News Briefs page.
Voters have demonstrated their preference for monorail more than once. In Los Angeles, they voted five to one in favor of monorail in a referendum. LA transit officials ignored them and continud to build light rail and subways. In November of 1997, approximately 93,000 Seattle voters said yes to a grass roots-produced initiative for a 40-mile citywide monorail system. A subsequent Seattle ballot initiative to tax automobile owners for a starter line in 2002 passed as well. Although voters supported the monorail on four separate ballots, a controversy over debt financing and lack of City Hall support in 2005 resulted in the cancellation of the project. Monorails still remain popular with people and more are being built in coming years! What are they doing in your city, trains in traffic?
An excellent question! A multitude of reasons can explain why you don't see as many monorails as you see of other transit systems.
Here at The Monorail Society, we'll continue to point out the advantages of monorail. Our front lines for informing people about monorail are the members of The Monorail Society. They spread the word in their own communities through the World Campaign and by using Kim A. Pedersen's amazing book, Monorails: Trains of the Future-Now Arriving, purchased from our Monorail Store. Our website helps educate those who are interested on the subject. The future is returning, as more monorails are continuing to be planned and built.