The Century Transportation Authority has gathered the requisite signatures to put an initiative on the fall ballot for a $5 car tab fee to plan a monorail route between Ballard and West Seattle. Oran detailed the proposed route over two years ago.

We may have a few qualms with Sound Transit, but creating yet another agency to build a transit line using a different technology is problematic, to say the least. It would make more sense to use the city’s taxing authority to accelerate light rail to more neighborhoods.

The best case here is that any attention this measure draws will send yet another signal to Sound Transit, SDOT and the state legislature that there is a huge demand for high-capacity rapid transit within Seattle, and transit-strapped residents aren’t interested in waiting decades for it to materialize. This new monorail’s promised opening date of 2019 is probably fantasy, but it may resonate with some voters who want transit relief and want it yesterday.

More likely, though, it will simply confuse and frustrate people while setting real transit back a decade or more.

91 Replies to “Monorail Initiative Qualifies for Ballot”

  1. The fact that we have to keep voting on these idiotic monofail proposals is a direct result of the state legislature setting up such a low bar for qualifying a monorail initiative. One percent? Give me a break. At any given time at least one percent of Seattle voters are confused, worse, or just angry at the establishment and wanting to cause trouble. It’s no wonder that this all started again with Elizabeth Campbell whose main goal in life is to save the viaduct.

    Some in Seattle just need to grow up and realize that there are no silver bullets or magic transportation dust. And certain cranks need to be ignored whenever they propose something.

    1. She is determined to build something elevated along the waterfront. What happens if this fails? Maybe she’ll propose an aqueduct.

  2. The proposal being on the ballot isn’t itself a problem, but if it passes then it has the potential to affect SoundTransit planning. The worst case scenario, which essentially played out with the last monorail proposal, is that Ballard and West Seattle will again have light rail planning delayed and then the proposed monorail isn’t ever built.

    1. Actually, if it fails then some in the state legislature will point to its failure as proof that the citizenry of Seattle doesn’t really want more transit, or at least isn’t clamoring for it. I.e. A lose could take some of the pressure off an already reticent anti transit legislature. So it could be a lose-lose.

      But I still think a win would be more damaging than a loss, so I’ll be voting “no”

    2. Isn’t Campbell on the record of ardently opposing Light Rail? She’s called them too “toy choo choos” or some such in the past.

    3. Lazarus: not really. The Legislature knows that more and more narrow-interest initiatives are becoming a statewide trend, so their defeat is not significant. The defeat of an official Seattle or King County measure holds more sway (as in Prop 1). The Legislature also knows that most of the previous monorail votes right at 50/50, so if that’s still true it could go either way with just a few votes. (I doubt it’s true because there’s now widespread support for westside light rail, which there wasn’t then.) The Legislature further knows that monorail initiatives have much lower signature barrier than other measures.

  3. Has anyone ever proposed replacing the monorail with a light rail route? Literally replacing the current elevated tracks/columns with ones that could support a light rail train?

    Seems to me it would please both worlds, an elevated train through downtown and uniform train technology. I see this route easily extended to Ballard and West Seattle.

    Some people though would probably freak out at the idea of removing the historic monorail though.

    1. That would take away an excellent tourist attraction, and revenue source from the city (the monorail makes a profit).

      1. Exactly CP. The monorail makes a profit in exactly the same sense as the old Benson Trolley did. But convert it to something other than a tourist line and it certainly wouldn’t.

      2. Extended to where? The existing line isn’t too well positioned to go to either Ballard or West Seattle as part of this plan. Going south you would have to weave around a number of buildings, and going north you would need to make some serious changes, such as maybe demolishing part of the existing Seattle Center complex, or maybe put a switch at Denny and have it go to the waterfront that way and have Seattle Center be a branch?

        If it became part of the general transit network, you would probably want them to accept ORCA, but today they don’t.

      3. Monorail profits are tiny–750K/year. Compared to the amount of money involved in transit, it’s pretty minor.

        And let’s be real–it’s a pretty weak tourist attraction. “Here’s a rickety 1-mile ride on 1962 transportation technology. Enjoy!” As a tourist, you probably had a better reason to come to Seattle.

    2. Their proposed route doesn’t integrate with or replace the current monorail at all, so presumably the Seattle Center Monorail would remain as is. Of course, all of this is theoretical since “CenTran” is never gonna happen.

    3. The only monorail extension that possibly makes sense and possibly not, would be to continue south on 5th Ave to King St. Station so that tourists and event crowds could move above street level between the train station and Seattle Center. Additional stations near the library and at about Bell St. could serve some local/commuter demand. Private financing should pay for it so that regional transportation funds continue building Link.

    4. I’ve wondered the same thing CP. The monorail could be relocated to a new track somewhere else, like between Seattle Center and the waterfront, or it could connect some other place. I’m not expert on monorail design requirements but it’s now 50 years old and I suspect that there are potential issues with the current elevated structure anyway (like seismic issues or aging issues).

  4. “This new monorail’s promised opening date of 2019 is probably pure fantasy…”

  5. Whatever happened to the plans to put a Sounder station in Ballard?

    If the issue is fast access across all the 45th street traffic, to and fro Ballard-Downtown, then wouldn’t that be a solution? Especially if we bring more Sounders online?

    I don’t see why getting people in and out of Ballard has to necessarily take them traipsing across all of Wallingford’s traffic, or waiting around for a tunnel or eyesore elevated line to be built.

    Once you get a Ballard-Downtown direct connection with Sounder, Ballard gets access to the trunk lines and everyone else gets access to Ballard’s amenities and beaches.

    1. Sounder North probably shouldn’t exist at all. A difficult to access station at Ballard isn’t going to help one bit.

      1. I’m with Bar. Sounder north should be put out of it’s misery. There are better north-end transit projects to sink that money into.

      2. @Lack Thereof

        From discussions I have had with Sound Transit officials in the past it seems that killing sounder north is not on the table, but we can certainly keep them from investing any more in it.

        @John Bailo

        Sounder North could only have a stop in the furthest outer western reaches of Ballard (Somewhere between Golden Gardens and the Ballard Locks), making it a pretty useless station without something like a Ballard to UW LRT to connect it to places people actually want to go. If you did have that LRT line the Ballard Sounder stop would be no longer necessary anyway…

      3. @Charles — If it was cheap, it could provide some “express” service to western Ballard. It might be faster to backtrack from there to central Ballard, especially if LRT served it as well. I’m afraid that part of the equation would be hard to justify though (Ballard to Golden Gardens light rail is kind of silly).

      4. I don’t think you guys are thinking this through.

        (1) Golden Gardens is a prime destination, albeit not for work. Like Safeco/Century.

        (2) Think of Ballard people commuting first away, westward, to get to Sounder and then quickly zooming to downtown Seattle.

        Almost all plans assume having to go east initially, and then cross through the difficult and dense areas of Wallingford and the U-District.

        But this journey is already adequately served with bus.

        Many people — I think — want to get directly in and out of Ballard and Golden Gardens and use both bus, and car, to get to an express station like Sounder.

        As with mistakes of LINK — people want Rapid Transit between major destinations. They don’t want rail, or mono-, bi- or tri-rail, to be built and then run as slow or slower than a bus!!!

      5. But this journey is already adequately served with bus.

        I see you have never actually been on the 44 or the 40.

      6. @John Balio

        Why in the world do you think we would want to build a line from Ballard to UW that would go slower than a bus?

        Most of what has been proposed for Ballard to UW has been completely grade separated and would move at least as fast as a bus, if not faster. It would also make getting across town during rush hour take less than an hour… for the first time in decades.

        Also, how are the people of Ballard supposed to get to Golden Gardens to take the sounder downtown given the current infrastructure? There is not remotely enough parking for that to happen by car, and no bus comes even close to the park. The nearest bus (the 48) is atop a very tall bluff and its unrealistic to ask folks to use that as a transfer point.

        A sounder stop for Golden Gardens is not even a remotely realistic replacement for a LRT Ballard connection, and even as a stand alone station its value is dubious at best… well down on the list past almost anything else addressed on this blog.

      7. Anyone who says Ballard-UW is “served adequately by bus” has never ridden the 44.

      8. @CharlesB I wonder if replacing the Sounder North rolling stock with a DMU might save some operating costs?

      9. Nah, JB, you’re not thinking it through.

        1. If Golden Gardens was a prime transit destination then we’da been building up the 46 to frequent status instead of letting it die. Transit in this town ain’t perfect but it’s nowhere near that crazy.

        2. There is a logical contradiction here. If the transit heading east is adequate then it would be adequate to deliver people to an eastern transit route. If transit heading east is inadequate to deliver people to an eastern transit route, then it is certainly inadequate to deliver people to Wallingford or the U District.

    2. “Whatever happened to the plans to put a Sounder station in Ballard?”

      There never was an official plan, just unofficial requests for it. It may be mentioned in ST’s Long Range Plan, but nothing in the LRP is for-sure.

    3. Sounder North is challenged, but it serves the downtowns of Edmonds, Mukilteo (which has room to grow with the upcoming relocation of the Ferry Terminal) and Everett (Lots of room to grow). It also connects 2 ferry routes and happens to be one of the most beautiful commutes anywhere in the world. I recently had the pleasure of making a Link + Sounder trip from the airport to Edmonds with a large suitcase and it was far more pleasant for me and everyone else than had I tried to bring that bag on a bus.
      Adding a reverse peak trip or 2 would help free up some equipment. I think the current operation uses at least one extra trainset that would not be needed. It could be put on the south line. Through routing would also help by opening more trip possibilities and creating network effects. The station that’s really needed on the line is a North Downtown station somewhere right before the tunnel, by Pike Place Market, where the viaduct is coming out. This would eliminate the time penalty for some commuters being dropped on the south end of downtown. That causes many people to take the bus instead. Normally, I wouldn’t care if people train or bus, but many of those buses are packed full and taking some people on the train would open capacity that would soon be filled again with a net + for transit patronage. A Ballard station wouldn’t be a huge draw but not dismal either. It would do better with a good connection to the Ballard spur and especially with through routing to South Sounder. Shilshole Marina is over there. That’s 1400 slips in a small area, ~ 300 liveaboards and many visitors to town hanging out in guest moorages. Many of those people are car-free. An Interbay station could be an alternative to Ballard & North Downtown worth studying. If ST could build stations for a reasonable price these would be small change investments with a good return.
      Right now Sounder North serves too few destinations, with walksheds partly underwater. It’s uncompetitive with the bus options and too far from most of the population, but it could be improved. Personally, I think ST should convert the slots to additional Cascades trips serving Bellingham (2RT) and Wenatchee (2RT) making all the intermediate stops. Then the existing Cascades trips could run limited with one stop in each county. If the slots were sold to Cascades, WSDOT would have to pay ST for them and pick up the operations… That might pay for the new stations.

      1. Don’t forget the Ballard Locks: Big tourist attraction. Not so easy to get to for downtown visitors any more.

      2. @Elbar Tourists are not going to take the sounder to the Ballard Locks, and it would not be worth building a new station there for that even if they would. Besides that, do you want your tourism line to Ballard to be subject to slide conditions between Everett and Edmonds?

        Tourists can do any of the following:
        1) Take the 40 and walk from Market and 24th
        2) Take the 5 or the E and transfer to the 44
        3) Take the Emerald City Trolley (Private) and it will take them straight there.

        Also, any of the LRT lines that have been discussed to Ballard would be sufficient for most tourists to get within walking distance of the locks.

      3. The Locks are a perfect example of why expanding Sounder is not a significant solution. Tourists visit the locks at 10:15am, 10:32am, 2:05pm, Saturday mornings, Sunday evenings — times that Sounder isn’t running. Sounder North will never have the frequency of Sounder South because of the single track, the abrupt hillside that prevents expansion, and low ridership because it bypasses the bulk of south Snohomish County. Tourists will not wait until 8am to visit the Locks and come back at 5pm. (Do they really want to spend the entire day at the Locks?) People going to Ballard’s nightclubs or the Sunday farmers’ market will not find Sounder running. In short, a Ballard Sounder station would not benefit more than one or two tourists, and even they would only be able to take it one-way and would have to get back another way.

    4. I’m new here, but I’ve often wondered why there is no Sounder stop in Ballard. A simple platform northwest of the locks would be great, and couldn’t cost very much money. That would be an easy walk from the 40 bus at 24th/Market, and personally, I’d ride my bike there and leave the bike locked all day. Pretty much all of Ballard and a lot of Crown Hill is less than a 15 minute bike ride to the locks. And with bike share going in, basically all of downtown is within a 10 minute ride of King Street Station.

      Sure, there’d be plenty of people that wouldn’t use it without dedicated parking, but plenty would find a way to get there. Make a simple platform with a rain shelter, then we get a fast ride downtown for almost no additional investment (the 40 and D are both painfully slow!). It could be done in a few weeks, rather than waiting another couple of decades for light rail.

      And yes, I’ve written Sound Transit with this request. No response…

      1. New sounder stations cost tens of millions of dollars, and while that is not a lot of money for sound transit, the ridership you would get out of that would not be worth the money spent.

        If we had spare money to spend on stations, there are a few link stations that have been left out of the current line that would get a lot more bang for the buck.

        Ballard needs grade separated rail with service all day, not just a low frequency commute line to downtown. If you are fine with a fast limited express commute only service to downtown, take the 15x. Its a lot more useful than the Sounder will ever be for Ballard.

  6. We already have the RapidRide D, we don’t need any more “rapid transit” scams. Fool us once, shame on you.

  7. The sad part is that Monorail makes front page news in the Seattle Times, TV coverage, and a diary entry in the Stranger blog– while Seattle Subway’s Ballard to U-District proposal gets squat in terms of coverage.

      1. Yes, that is why the monorail story reached the front page. The public will need to make a specific decision at the ballot box.

    1. A couple STB blog post and a presence at a few farmers markets isn’t exactly front-page worthy.

      1. Imagine if the Stranger gave the Ballard to U district option the same amount of space that it gave to the $15/hour wage — wouldn’t ST3 have a better chance of being on the ballot in 2016? I agree that Seattle Subway or Ballard open houses aren’t front page material, but I wish there had been more press coverage of the ST open houses and Ballard to UW studies either by the Times or the Stranger.

  8. Whatever happened to transportation choices on this blog? If the city of Seattle votes for monorail, then why not? It already seems that Sound Transit is going to take forever to build anything within the city limits, so if this can get done, what really is the problem? I’m waiting impatiently here in Shoreline for LINK to arrive, maybe in 2023? If I was living in Ballard, I would be jumping at the chance for monorail to arrive in 2019 or 2020 rather than Sound Transit saying, “We’re going to do another study on the viability of maybe someday thinking about putting light rail somewhere in that area.”

    I would prefer to ride in the comfort of a monorail car above the traffic than to sit in a cramped, uncomfortable seat stuck in at-grade traffic. Plus, a monorail is much quieter than what LINK provides–a momentary ‘whoosh’ as it goes past me while walking on 5th Avenue as opposed to shrieking metal-on-metal as it creeps past me on MLK Way.

    And, if the monorail ultimately fails(a self-fulfilling prophecy?), then Sound Transit is foolish to not look at the density of Ballard/Fremont/Wallingford and ignore the possibility of expansion through those neighborhoods. I believe this initiative’s core belief is that if you want something, you’ve got to do it yourself rather than wait for someone else to do it for you. No matter that the funding may not be ideal for this project, or the previous monorail project, but remember that Sound Transit’s original funding failed miserably and we got a horribly truncated line.

    Again, I’m surprised at the vitriol against this transportation choice by the readers of this blog.

    1. I used to think that, too, Cin, but the reality is that people should be voting for service, not for mode. If you want to serve the corridor that the proposed monorail will, then vote for the funding and hand it over to Soundtransit. The agency has plans now, and with extra money, could implement them faster.

      We need to get the people who support this to join with us, rather than undermine the efforts to get a comprehensive mass transit system built in this city. They may not think that’s what they’re doing, but it is.

      1. You don’t build a comprehensive mass transit system by selling the voters a bunch of lies. And the enabling legislation specifically excludes any form of LR.

      2. I just had a thought: The monorail legislation defines “monorail” as “any form of rail that isn’t light rail.” So, in theory, couldn’t they contract with ST to build a Skytrain?

        (This is, of course, leaving entirely aside their impractical and unrealistic financing plans.)

      3. I thought it was heavy rail, because it was entirely grade-separated and not powered by overhead traction. At least, if the enabling legislation doesn’t define “light rail,” you could make that argument.

      4. The early monorail era was anti light rail, which is why that provision is in the legislation. There was some justification for it then because all of the then-existing light rails were slow surface alignments to save capital costs, and the monorail supporters didn’t want that to happen here. But ST has since shown it’s willing to do elevated and tunneled, and it’s now more willing to do it than when MLK was built. 75% of the feedback on Ballard-downtown Link supported a fully grade-separated option, and ST acknowledged that.

        The anti-light rail provision is now coming to bite us, because otherwise we could use this transportation-benefit district authority to accelerate westside light rail. In the status-quo environment (which the legislature has been trying to change for two years but failed), this is the “easiest” way to raise tax money for transit. Unfortunately it’s the wrong kind of transit. It would be minimally useful but not nearly as effective as something else would be.

        For instance, look at the downtown routing, two steep blocks away from where the bulk of the population is. It resembles the “Vision Line” for downtown Bellevue, where Link would have run on 405. The PRT loop even resembles the “moving sidewalk” proposed for the Vision Line. It’s not the same technology, but it’s similar in being another unproven technology, whereas light rail and its ancestors have been proven in cities for 150 years.

      5. SkyTrain is considered heavy rail as the only characteristics shared with light rail is train length. It has high plat boarding, huge capacity, low headways, 100% grade separation, high acceleration, automation, and a complex signal system. By APTA’s definition, it also likely falls into “automated guideway transit”.

        The power supply doesn’t matter as there are heavy rail systems powered by overhead catenary.

      6. “if the enabling legislation doesn’t define “light rail,””

        I don’t think it does, especially considering the term is vague and arbitrary in the industry. Vancouver is deciding between Skytrain and “light rail” for its next lines, so that’s an example of a distinction. Light rail is (A) lower capacity than “heavy rail”, and (B) descended from prewar streetcars and contrasted with them by having more exclusive lanes, faster speeds, and limited stops, (C) a way to unify worldwide English terminology that had diverged to streetcar/tram/trolley/etc, and (D) normally powered by overhead wire or occasionally DMU rather than third rail or induction.

        A case can probably be made that the light rail provision refers to the Link-like technologies that were available at the time.

      7. Skytrain isn’t lightrail as it has an exclusive right of way. What I call a “metro”. And the phrase “heavy rail” ought to be binned. It does not capture any useful concepts and only ever leads to confusion. And the distinction between third rail power and catenary power also isn’t the most determinative. Obviously third rail systems have to be metros. But a catenary system could be a metro as well. If Link were fully grade separated such that it could be automated, it would be a metro too.

    2. We already studied this exact thing and it was shown that the whole concept was a bunch of lies. Ya, wouldn’t it be nice if it was possible? But I grew up and stopped believing I could commute by flying unicorns, and is don’t believe in monorails either.

      Follow the facts.

    3. The monorail died last time because it was pie in the sky, unprofessional, house of cards transportation “planning”. I don’t see any reason why this will be different. Sound Transit on the other hand built Central Link, is building U Link, Angle Lake and Northgate Link and planning for any more miles…

      Seattle need to follow the tried-and-true approach and that is through Sound Transit.

    4. It’s not so much resistance against the mode.

      It’s just the simple matter that this is all redundant work.

      Just a couple months ago, Sound Transit finished studying a half dozen different routes & modes for serving West Seattle, and two different sets of Ballard options. We’d be far better off spending the $2m/yr this would raise on accelerating development of one of those options, rather than starting over from scratch and duplicating all that effort.

  9. The real purpose of this so called proposal is to siphon votes off of the Seattle Metro Service Restoration ballot measure. It’s really an attempt to shut that down and continue the attack on Metro and transit in general.

    1. That’s not the purpose, it’s been in the works far too long for that. However, that may be the end result. Two competing transit votes on the same ballot never ends well.

      1. I thought the monorail proposal was long dead and done with. Who exactly are these monorail proponents?

  10. It’s the height of dysfunction that our region is obsessed with process to the tune of decade+ timelines, yet all can be torpedoed by a literal 1%.

  11. Its the ghost of monorail past, come to haunt us again and disrupt votes on things that have a track record for actually producing transit hours, rather than just voter ire when the joke of an organization it creates crumbles under the weight of its own promises.

  12. This is the initiative that they were getting people to sign at (at least the Broadway Farmers Market) by saying it was for increased Light Rail construction.

  13. “The best case here is that any attention this measure draws will send yet another signal to Sound Transit, SDOT and the state legislature that there is a huge demand for high-capacity rapid transit within Seattle, and transit-strapped residents aren’t interested in waiting decades for it to materialize. ”

    This is exactly why I will be voting for it.

    1. Except that last time we had a monorail measure it ended up delaying Ballard to West Seattle by a decade, not the other way around…

    2. Exactly. If it succeeds, ST would likely drop Ballard-downtown and downtown-West Seattle from consideration in ST3. Then it would all depend on whether this brand-new agency would be able to successfully build it. We still don’t know the cost, or whether it would go above 35 MPH, or whether interagency transfers and passes would be accepted (they weren’t the first time around), etc. If the agency can’t develop a realistic budget, and get it passed in a second vote, and build it, and avoid cost overruns, then ST wouldn’t get back to westside Link until ST4, if that ever happens.

      Some ramblings…. As I recall only two monorail companies bid for the project, and then one dropped out, so we really only had the choice of one company, and they were going to keep fares high for a few decades to recoup their profit. The monorail’s contract was design-build-operate-maintain, which is where the operating profits come in. ST contracts things in pieces, so the overhead is more limited. Meanwhile Link’s fares are below Metro’s for distances up to Westlake – Rainier Beach, and the savings from steadily decreasing cost-per-boarding is passed to back us (in the form of no fare increases and additional lines).

      1. arguably, this is a plus, since it will focus ST on the Ballard UW connection, and leave North King money available for incremental improvements elsewhere.

      2. I wouldn’t trust this bunch to order lunch much less build grade separated transit.

        Best Sound Transit just ignore this nonsense if it passes.

      3. @Chris: fair enough—I more or less agree. But (1) I think that West Seattle’s problems can mostly be solved by tolling SOV’s on the West Seattle bridge, and fairly cheap improvements to the HOV lanes at either end. Moreover, I think there are several neighborhoods that ought to be ahead of West Seattle in the pecking order for funds. (2) I’m really concerned that without a proper grade separated path through downtown a direct Link to Ballard will suffer any of the end to end journey time problems currently experienced by buses into downtown. (3) I think that Ballard to UW solves most of the genuinely rail worthy problems that people are trying to sole in that timeframe. As such, I think that the downside of their failure is pretty low.

    3. And if the initiative doesn’t pass, it wouldn’t pressure the city or legislature to accelerate anything.

  14. So say you’re going from Ballard to Rainier Valley. You’d take the monorail, transfer to the PRT, go down to an underground station, and take Link — a three-seat ride. Same for Ballard – Capitol Hill, Ballard – Bellevue, and Ballard – SeaTac. Or maybe you’d take the 44 or its successor to U-District station and transfer there, which may be more convenient — and not take the monorail at all. So the monorail is really focused on Ballard-downtown trips and Ballard-West Seattle trips, and not much else.

  15. I agree. Another transit agency will just confuse others who aren’t knowledgeable about transit. The only reason why this monorail extension idea is on the ballot is because people who don’t know much about light rail know about this option instead. They don’t know that light rail is a big part of Seattle’s transit system. When they hear about the monorail, they then are prone to voting for it because EVERYONE is familiar with it. It’s a bad idea. The monorail is supposed to be a touristy historic landmark, something to memorialize the 1962 Worlds Fair, not transit for daily commuters.

  16. The fact that the current proposal does not make a priority seamless transfers to the transit tunnel really speaks the lack of transit knowledge of its creators. Also, id be more tempted to vote for this if they replaced the monorail with a fully elevated driverless light rail system like the vancouver sky train. Monorails need to be killed with fire.

  17. There are a bunch of things that are questionable or crappy about the monorail project. Which of them matter?

    – Low top speed barely matters given the stop spacing and turns.
    – Lack of free inter-agency transfers matters a bit, but it’s nothing an otherwise useful line can’t survive until the agency consolidation fairy comes for it.
    – Crummy downtown stop locations and inconvenient transfers to everything except the ferries matters.
    – The delusion and pretension of the plan, and the lack of credibility and competence on the part of its champions, is super important. It means there’s a very good chance approving the measure would hurt the cause of good transit to Ballard and West Seattle.

    – The inclusion of PRT in this proposal is hilarious.

  18. Despite all the NIMBY haters, detractors and history revisionists on this blog, monorail in Seattle and more so world wide hangs on AMD often grows. Despite the lack of support from railroad moochers and those who want a highway in the sky or a massive tunnel, monorail appeals to folks who want a simple solution and elegant solution.

    Nobody wants to talk about how quickly las Vegas monorail was built or the fact to this day it is automated. Something link can never say.

    That said, what makes sense is extending the current monorail into downtown Seattle. Monorails can go through buildings something that railroad can never do easily. Seattle would never stand for highways in the sky. Of course they whined about shadows but yet…..the current guide ways nobody whines about….

    The loot rail, car hater crowd will always decry a technology that lives in harmony with other modes even during construction. While the rest of the world laughs at our forced love affair with loot rail, they will move into the next century of transit.

    1. Mark, would you support an elevated automated light rail line like Vancouver’s Sky train instead of a monorail? Would you support running this line down 2nd or 3rd instead of the waterfront?

      Most people on this Blog support transit from Ballard through downtown to W. Seattle. They just are wary of monorail technology and the proposed route.

      1. Would I support a heavy, large, viaduct sized loot rail train that would take 10 times longer to build and on top of all that screech? Only the faithful and fan boys support such an Antiquated and oversize “technology”.

        Anyone who does any reason research realizes that real monorail ” (not the garbage people movers some domestic agencies have come up with) had far more upside and scalability than loot rail ever will.

        Them again…union growth and car hating groups want nothing to do with monorail.

      2. I’m curious why you think looters would be more likely to ride light rail than monorail.

        And I’m also curious whether you’d support running it down Second or Third instead of the waterfront – that’s one of my two main problems with this proposal.

      3. @Mark smith

        I would not oppose an elevated transit mode if I thought the group building it were competent and that it would interact well with existing transit modes. So far this group does not seem to be competent at much more than gathering signatures, and the design the put forth seems specifically designed to not connect with any of our existing high capacity transit investments.

        Why run it down Alaskan way… so far from almost any other transit mode? Why have elevated transit downtown when nearly every other mode is on surface or underground? Its almost as if the plan is intentionally trying to make it as difficult as possible to switch modes. Competently planned monorails at least intentionally stick stations directly outside subway or train stations so its easy for users to walk between them.

        Also, “loot rail”? It seems someone else here is more biased against a particular mode.

      4. Forever translating to the decades it takes to pay back the bonds used to build the project?

        Any major infrastructure project will take some time to pay off its bonds. This includes your precious monorail project.

        IF it even manages to build something.

        If you expect it will do any different, you are a fool.

        If you want to talk “looting” how about all of the money wasted last time on the,monorail project to produce nothing?

        Pot, meet kettle.

      5. Why this fascination with monorail? What you want is elevated, automatic transit. Why not just specify that? Skytrain isn’t really any better or worse than any other automatic system, but the guideways are very similar to what would be built with monorail keeping in mind the access and egress regulations. And the wheels don’t screech because the bogies are steered. (The other rail line in Vancouver using traditional subway cars does screech.)

      1. No, I don’t — but that Simpsons episode does mirror Seattle to some degree. Or, given that it predated Seattle’s episode of monorail infatuation, Seattle mirrored the Simpsons.

  19. I think that perhaps there is a lesson here for ST. Could it be that ST has done an inadequate job in these new corridor studies? Including modal advocates in the discussion of corridors is fundamental to keeping things like this from gaining traction. Many of us have posted the lack of consideration on ranges of modes in the ST studies already. Consider that if ST had done even a cursory job in their work costing other modes and included monorail, the whole idea of an extended monorail would be totally dead.

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