Historic photo from monorail website

On March 1, Seattle Monorail Services and the Seattle Center proposed a fare increase for the Seattle Center Monorail.

Current Proposed
Adult 13-64 One-Way $2.25 $2.50
Youth 5-12 / Senior 65+ /
Disabilities / Active US military
One-Way
$1.00 $1.25
Adult 13-64 Monthly Pass $45 $50
Youth/Senior/Disabilities/Active US military
Monthly Pass
$20 $25
Low-Income not available not available

All fares will remain cash only. In addition to not accepting ORCA cards, the monorail does not accept debit/credit cards or checks.

The monorail is celebrating its 55th birthday this Friday. It has been operated by Seattle Monorail Services since 1994 as a quasi-private specialty transit line, catering to tourists and event crowds willing to pay a premium to avoid slower local buses between downtown and the Seattle Center. Previously, it had been operated directly by the City of Seattle. The City still owns the line and funds the maintenance, while SMS makes an operating profit on the line. A portion of that profit goes to fund programming at the Seattle Center, which oversees SMS.

SMS won a 10-year contract to continue operating the monorail at the end of 2014, with a 10-year extension option that can be approved by the Seattle Center without coming back to the city council. After last-minute discussions about accepting ORCA, stipulations were added to the contract to complete a study about fare integration with the public transit system by the end of the 2nd quarter of 2015. That study led to an additional ridership study that was scheduled to take a year to conduct, and is still not available to the public. Seattle Center did not respond to questions about the study by time of publication.

UPDATE: Per Denise Wells at the Seattle Center, the ridership study will be available some time in the second quarter of 2017. Debit/credit card payment may become available this summer, and the age ranges of the payer categories will be aligned with the public transit agencies (i.e. 6-18 for youth fare). A Disparate Impact Analysis will be done on the fare proposal before it is enacted.

One of the stipulations is that if the City insists that SMS accept ORCA, then SMS will have to accept ORCA, but gets time to renegotiate fares or possibly opt out of the contract. If the monorail accepts ORCA, it would automatically have to have a low-income fare category, and extend its youth fare to age 18, due to the ORCA Joint Board’s agency sponsorship rules.

The new higher fares are scheduled to take effect May 1.

A public hearing on the fare proposal will be held at the Seattle Center Armory Loft #3 at 5:30 pm on Wednesday, April 12. Comments will also be accepted through Friday, April 14, via email at denise.wells@seattle.gov and via phone at 206-615-0258.

83 Replies to “Monorail Proposes Fare Increase Without Integration”

  1. If the monorail accepted ORCA it would be enormously useful. It would provide an easy transfer from the Link station at Westlake to Seattle Center. I can think of at least a dozen times in the past year I would have used it for events at Seattle Center.

  2. the slowest part of the monorail experience is waiting for the ticket takers to make change.

    wondering just how unreasonable seattle center’s rev share demands were.

    if this goes through, should put a halt to anything the mayor’s office wants to do with an updated Key Arena.

    from 2015: https://www.seattletransitblog.com/2015/11/14/monorail-orca-study-results/
    Seattle Center receives 2/3 of Monorail revenues, or $550,000 per year, whichever is more. 2015 figures to generate about $900,000 this way.

  3. Has there ever been a cost estimate (by anyone) for ORCA integration of the monorail? Just anticipating the pushback by the contractors.

    1. It kind of begs the question of how much it would cost to implement ORCA and then de-implement it (in the event it doesn’t bring in ridership) versus the cost of the multitude of studies of whether it’s worth it to implement ORCA. Hell, make it ePurse only to start and worry about passes later.

    2. Six months were allowed for the first study of how integration would work.

      The ridership study, which is supposed to answer the question of how much it will cost, or how much additional profit SMS is likely to make, ongoing, due to shifts to ORCA and to increased ridership, lasted the duration of 2016.

      The consultant doing the ridership study has been compiling the results ever since.

      I doubt the study covered how much commerce at and around the Seattle Center would be generated due to ORCA integration.

      Personally, I have rarely gone to the Seattle Center because I’m not terribly interest in paying $4.50 to ride the monorail or taking a slow bus there, when there are other places I can get to much quicker on Link. They’ve lost a lot of small-time business from me.

  4. “Previously, it had been operated directly by the City of Seattle. The City still owns the line and funds the maintenance, while SMS makes an operating profit on the line. A portion of that profit goes to fund programming at the Seattle Center, which oversees SMS.” It also used to be driven by Metro Transit.

    Since the Monorail connects a major exhibition ground with a Sound Transit light-rail station, couldn’t it rate same ST status as Tacoma LINK? Though it’s really more like a long horizontal escalator, like one of those moving air terminal walkways. Could also be argued into becoming part of the Seattle Streetcar system.

    Hell yes, it’s necessary. And completely restorable. And also irreplaceable. Even after the Ballard/CBD/West Seattle subway shares a ribbon cutting with the Ballard UW Tunnel. Where’s the Downtown Seattle Association? Are we going to have to reincarnate an old fashioned Booster, boater hat, cigar and all?

    What’s this matter doing on months’ long agenda of a discussion over ORCA? Because however miserable and poverty-stricken, I don’t think any World in the World would allow Seattle into its Class for our handling of this one.

    Mark Dublin

    1. Technically it probably could be integrated into ST’s network, and then it would automatically inherit ORCA and the upcoming ORCA2 (since I’m sure the next question will be people wanting to pay with their credit card or smartphone). But the time to consider this was before ST3. Now ST has a 25-year backlog of projects and no extra money for a new one. And possible budget cuts due to state and federal action.

      Logically the way to do it would be for the city to keep owning it and ST to take over operations. But why would it do that when it normally outsources operations to the other agencies? We might as well just ask Metro to operate it, as it operates Link. Oh, but Metro did operate it for a while, and then it was turned over to SMS because… privatization is good? So I think you have to look at why ST operates Tacoma Link. I assume it’s because it’s so small and unique and so far from the other trains in the region, that it didn’t seem like a good idea to foist it on Pierce Transit. But that’s just a guess. And it remains to be seen whether the expanded Tacoma Link continues the same operational arrangements.

    2. I just remembered, when Metro ran the monorail in the 80s, did it accept Metro passes or transfers? I vaguely remember something like that, something we lost when the operation was turned over to SMS.

      1. That does sound familiar Mike. I seem to remember being able to use a transfer there (but it has been a while, and my memory is not that great).

      2. No, when Metro operated the monorail (I believe as route 689) in the early 1980s, passes and transfers were not accepted. Cash only. Cashiers, either one or more at each end during busy times, or one on the train during slow times (and entry onto the train was made using just one train door), were City of Seattle employees.

        I still find it hard to believe that the City of Seattle hasn’t integrated the monorail into accepting ORCA cards.

  5. “One of the stipulations is that if the City insists that SMS accept ORCA, then SMS will have to accept ORCA, but gets time to renegotiate fares or possibly opt out of the contract.”

    Wouldn’t it be better to just force them to opt out of the contract? I don’t see the value of the monorail being operated by a non-transit agency. I get why they did think in 1994 when the city wasn’t booming, but it’s a very different economy right now.

    1. I agree. We need to stop treating the monorail as a toy. This isn’t the Space Needle. This should be run by a transit agency, because this is a transit system. Not only for the Seattle Center, but for lower Queen Anne.

  6. I just looked at the list of people on the “Advisory Commission”. Just like any “special-purpose” board and even though this one is appointed, it stinks of insiders who can steer policy to benefit their industries. There are five people involved in “event production”/”marketing”, two restaurateurs, one who operates in the Center, two “artists”, and four developers. The only people who could broadly be considered actually “for the people” are the hospitality union guy and the “foundation head” depending on what Sheri & Les Biller Family Foundation actually does.

    This is a TEXTBOOK example of what an elected Sound Transit board will look like.

    1. You’re on the right track about governance, Richard- ok, it’s only got one rail, but still counts. A Foundation might be perfect. Just so long as it doesn’t have same name as either recent Presidential candidate.

      But our country’s most desperate need right now, after A Break!, is to train large numbers of displaced industrial workers to participate in the restoration of our infrastructure.

      So I think operation and especially maintenance of the Monorail would be a wonderful hands-on training program for Lake Washington Technical Institute. But best of all, LWIT also offers a conduit into a burgeoning new world of public transit necessity.

      LINK and the King County Medical Examiner might take a bold initiative in the direction of existing systems which set planetary records for ridership. “The Lunatic Express”, by Carl Hoffman, gives first-hand account of a morgue operated for its own use by the commuter rail system in Mumbai.

      http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/28/travel/28Armchair.html?_r=0

      Which dovetails perfectly into a one-of-a-kind community college department on KC Metro’s very own Route 238 above Kirkland. For an industry that given trends starting, literally, with the beginning of the world, will never go down to obsolescence.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=agiq-edjxPU

      You’re already at the head of the line for program naming rights.

    2. Only people who are highly motivated will want to be on the commission. Often that means people with a business interest because it has multiple benefits for them and their company may be paying for their time. But “the public” does not want to sit in a monorail commission or transit board; they have other priorities. Like family, activities, education, sleep. Or their other job is at the same time. That’s the problem with getting a “people’s representative” on commissions.

    3. Really? I don’t remember voting for any one of the guys on this board. That is because I didn’t (nor did anyone else).

      You seem to be confused about what an elected board would entail (hint: the folks on the board would be elected by the voters).

      1. Yes, they certainly would be voted on. And, like this one, the only people who would raise their hands would be folks who can direct the largesse to their industry. Or block it in the case of the auto dealers and sprawl developers.

        There will be exactly 0.0000000000000000000000000000000000000 “transit activists” on an elected Sound Transit Board. There may be some Howler Monkeys from KIRO but folks aren’t going to elect Martin or Zach, estimable though they certainly are and fantastic board members they would indeed make.

        The majority of people would never hear of them to vote for them.

  7. I once had an all-day event at Seattle Center. After taking the bus from Tacoma to downtown, I didn’t use the monorail but the number 3/4. I’m sure the monorail would have been quicker, but no stinking Orca. I want the transfer credit, and the ease of tapping a card.
    The operators are really being stupid about this. They would see a significant ridership boost from integrating payments with the rest of the network.
    Seattle should demand that they take it.

    1. I used to always take the bus to Seattle Center to avoid the transfer penalty, but the past few years I’ve been taking the monorail. Because I only take it a couple times a year so the total annual expense is less than $20, and it’s worth that just for the view and tourist aspect.

    2. I live near the Seattle center and catch a bus downtown to Westlake center 4-5 times a week to transfer to link. I would ride the monorail but they don’t accept orca so the additional cost is unreasonable for me. If they accepted Orca I would use it

    3. “The operators are really being stupid about this. They would see a significant ridership boost…”

      Stop right there. A private company is not interested in ridership, but in profit. If the majority of those new riders transfer, they’ll get only a fraction of the full fare. And if people like me transfer who would have bought a ticket under the current system, then they’ll lose that part of the revenue-share too. The only thing left is tourists without ORCA cards who don’t ride other transit (or maybe they do, but that’s irrelevant to the monorail operator’s bottom line).

      1. The operators are making money from the current system and, therefore, have little incentive to want to change it. For them, any change is an unnecessary risk to their profits.

      2. “A private company is not interested in ridership, but in profit.”

        Sometimes. Sometimes not. Yes, I know that’s the way it’s taught in classes, but…

        Have you ever taken a good hard look at Gordon Ramsey’s “Kitchen Nightmares,” especially the UK version? I swear it should be sponsored by McKinsey. Because Ramsey comes in, says, “If you want to be more profitable, do x-y-z.” And then the restaurant owners go, “But if I do that, people won’t respect me as much.” They then fail to take Ramsey’s advice, and the business goes under.

        It’s much the same in the US. If you give a typical American businessperson a choice between either a) lots of control and little money, or b) lots of money but little respect, they’ll go for the control over the money much more often.

        Here, you’re assuming that profitability doesn’t scale with ridership. There is absolutely no reason to believe that’s true. Quite the contrary – the company is leaving profits on the table, for the sole purpose of exercising control.

      3. TL;DR: To rephrase Mr. Gandhi:

        “What do you think of businesses being run solely for profit?”
        “I think it would be a good idea.”

  8. You know, if I were Downtown looking for something different to do, and I had a pass in my pocket that would get me to the Seattle Center to spend some money on lunch or something, I might be tempted to spend an occasional dollar there. Would there be no economic benefit there?

  9. This is an great example of what an elected Sound Transit Board would look like. Three real estate developers, five marketers, two restaurateurs — one actually operating in the Center, a union guy from the hospitality industry, and two “artists”. Only the foundation director and chairperson could broadly be considered as not having some sort of conflict of interest, depending on what the Sheri & Les Biller Family Foundation actually does.

  10. The comment tool is sending everything to moderation right now. We’ll fish them out as fast as we can. But that’s why your comment isn’t appearing immediately.

    UPDATE: Appears to be working correctly now. But if your comment doesn’t appear, please be patient. It’s being monitored regularly.

    1. Thanks for the word, Dan. But while our country wishes it could send the last election and its whole run-up to moderation, on its way to Hell, this isn’t the way the First Amendment works. Re: fishing, word to Gill-netters: Sea Shepherd’s got a Soviet Navy Surplus sub.

      Mark

    2. Is that what it is. I thought it was a cache-update problem like happened earlier. I have had some posts today not show up immediately, but I remembered what happened before and figured they weren’t lost but would show up in a few hours.

  11. “…catering to tourists and event crowds willing to pay a premium to avoid slower local buses between downtown and the Seattle Center.”

    The monorail is cheaper than buses, so I’m not sure what the author is talking about here.

    I would definitely use the monorail more often if it took ORCA.

    1. The monorail by itself is cheaper than a bus. But with ORCA you get free transfers. Airport –> Westlake –> Seattle Center is cheaper using Link + bus than Link + monorail.

      It’s also cheaper for those with monthly passes.

  12. ” pay a premium to avoid slower local buses”

    Nice narrative except their fares are less than King County Metro. I ride monorail frequently. I also used to ride the bus in a world before cards and managed just fine.

    I don’t think the only local profitable and self sustaining transit mode should be brought into regional pass system, but they should adopt Orca for cash payments ala WS Ferries.

    1. But if you’ve got a monthly pass, or if you’re transferring to or from something else, the marginal bus fare is 0. And, very few people are actually starting from Westlake and ending at the Seattle Center/LQA.

    2. Steven Lorenza’s statement is not really accurate.

      The monorail makes an operating profit, and transfers roughly 2/3 of that to the Seattle Center.

      The City still pays for maintenance.

    3. There’s an idealist reason to integrate all transit modes: it makes travelling seamless, and easy for visitors. It gives people another incentive to use transit. If you look at what Germany is doing, they blow us out of the water. If you get a weekend railpass on the mainline trains, it’s also valid on city subways and trams (but not buses). If you get a ticket to some conferences or sports events, it’s also good for transit on the day of the event. That provides a big incentive to take transit, and it allows transit to manage crowds effectively.

      This is all easier there because the governing structure is different. The country is split into transit regions, and each regional authority runs their regional trains as well as their subways and trams and buses, so it can offer an integrated pass. When I was in Dusseldorf you could get a weekly pass to all forms of transit; you just choose the price level: (A) Duesseldorf city, (B) including the first-ring suburbs, (C) the entire transit region. The integration with events is done by a government that prioritizes transit. I don’t understand the rationale that mainline train passes are good on cities’ subways/trams but not buses; it must be something about an administrative/revenue division or something.

      So I support monorail ORCA integration for this idealist reason. But it’s not a high priority for me compared to all the other transit problems. And agencies do have to look at the revenue impact; they can’t just blndly offer transfers everywhere and then get hit with a major revenue loss they can’t compensate for. And the collective ORCA structure is somewhat limiting; a single agency can’t just do everything it wants to because the other agencies may not concent, or they may be concerned about a similar revenue hit that they can’t compensate for.

  13. Has there ever been talk of adding a monorail stop in Belltown or extending it down 5th to IDS with a stop in the financial center? I feel like that would’ve been helpful the past 20 years. But I feel it’s too late for that with ST3 projects that would just duplicate it. That’s too bad!

    1. Seems like 5th and battery would be a good location for a midway stop.
      And Battery tunnel should be salvaged (or at least not filled with rubble) until such time that it can be rebuilt as short streetcar (brt, or people mover?) spur between the future Ballard link station at Denny/Westlake and Pike Place Market.
      Like the first hill streetcar was supposed to mitigate for light rail skipping first hill, the battery spur and integration with a new monorail midway station could throw a bone to Belltown.

      1. THAT is a great idea! You could do it with just one side of the tunnel because two streetcar tracks can easily fit in a two lane roadway. Fantastic: grade separated access to Belltown for the cost of cleaning, patching and painting the walls of the grimy tunnel and laying track.

      2. Well, I guess there’d be costs for stations. So maybe use the inner lane of both sides of the tunnel and put the platforms and stairs/escalators where the outside lanes are. With some care you could include a bike lane that passed “behind” the platforms.

        The platforms wouldn’t need to be very wide; there would never be “crush loads” but it would be a very nice amenity for Belltown.

        Put a stop at 2nd also and one elevated over Western for the stub end. The things could be automated for faster turn-around and frequent headways.

        With proper engineering at the Denny Way station it could be the start of the Metro 8.

        Do it! Do NOT fill this useful hole!

      3. The current north portal of the Battery Street Tunnel is in the middle of Aurora. Keeping the portal would be completely incompatible with current plans for Aurora between Mercer and Denny.

        Any bike or pedestrian use would require additional ramps to a small surface portal elsewhere (even if the portal were kept, the middle of Aurora is not a good place to drop people). For transit use you’d need a full-sized portal, and for rail use the grade needs to be suitable. Good luck finding a spot! Alternatively, maybe you build an underground turn-around at the north end (I can’t imagine it’s easy or cheap with all the other infrastructure around there, but maybe, maybe it’s possible). Then you have to use the south end to get vehicles in and out… so maybe it’s an extension of a waterfront transit route? Well, not quite waterfront, because it’s pretty tough to get to the south portal from Alaskan Way, elevation-wise…

        If it doesn’t connect to anything from either end it has some of the Monorail’s problems (like the inability to repair vehicles off-route) but few of its draws: it’s shorter, doesn’t stop at a major transit node, and lacks the nice views.

  14. If the San Francisco cable cars can figure out how to use electronic fare media, I am at a loss why a “futuristic”, “post-modern” monorail can’t.

    Just as the old Waterfront Streetcar had a special fare associated with it despite being in the former “Fare Free Zone”, the Monorail could have its own fare rules as well (ORCA can be used on the Ferries and the rules aren’t the same on the Ferry as anyone else.). Maybe charge a higher cash fare ($3 for a one-way ride/$5 for round-trip) for a monorail only ticket, to recoup some of the losses with full ORCA integration with King County Metro fares/transfers/passes? Allow pass holders to only ride during commute hours, or exclude pass holders on weekends (to make more room for cash-paying tourists)?

    1. The “how” part would involve an application process and getting through the politics of getting approval from the ORCA Joint Board. I honestly can’t come up with a reason why any of the member agencies would oppose allowing the monorail’s participation.

      In terms of technology, all that is needed is a couple hand-held readers at each ticket booth — four ORCA readers altogether.

      The hang-up seems to be the Seattle Center being conservative about its share of the operating profit (which is still subsidized by the City paying for the maintenance). The Director of the Seattle Center can unilaterally raise the fares even if the City Council tells him not to. But the Council can stop approving maintenance money, can refuse the KeyArena renovation, and can start the clock on the ORCA integration by ordering SMS to accept it.

      1. I’d prefer the city keep the operating profit, frankly. The monorail no longer is a primary feeder line to bring people to the seattle center.

        Or tear the thing down and construct a futuristic streetcar with orca integration and a Belltown stop.

      2. “Or tear the thing down and construct a futuristic streetcar with orca integration and a Belltown stop.” – the replacement should be the new ST3 tunnel, which will go from Westlake to LQA. The monorail just needs to last another 15~20 years.

      3. That’s another likely weakness in the ridership study: What happens to the monorail after Ballard Link opens?

        If the Link station is sited close to Seattle Center Monorail Station, the opening of the new station could be the end of the monorail’s financial viability.

        I hope the monorail can start taking ORCA before the final station siting decision, so that the Link Seattle Center Station can serve a different walkshed.

      4. One would think the Center would be more interested in the money spent at the Center by those extra Orca card riders than whatever profit margin they get from the $2 they’d “lose” because those riders transferred from Link.

    2. The same San Francisco whose best-deal all-transit visitors’ pass is a paper card with scratch-off days? (Buy it at the cable car ticket office at Market & Powell.) The Bay Area still doesn’t have a shared monthly pass like PugetPass; you have to buy a separate pass for each agency.

      Also, the cable cars are more central to San Francisco’s economy than our monorail is to ours, so that probably gives them an incentive to invest in electronic fare media so they can capture those credit card dollars. The cable cars are like the Space Needle and monorail and Pike Place Market all rolled into one.

  15. The only positive thing about the Monorail’s weird cash only/strong gatekeeper approach is that their infrastructure is completely spotless and free of sketchiness. Because of KC Metro’s complete blind eye to fare evasion, and the trouble that creates, the SCM can seem refreshing – there’s almost no graffiti, garbage, stained seats, tags etched into the windows, or disruptive passengers.

    However, the Monorail ‘process’ has almost no capacity to handle crush loads (after the UW PAC-12 basketball tournament game it was a nightmare). In fact, it’s farcical in the face of anything greater than a normal tourist lunch crowd. Their process needs to be automated, and ORCA needs to be accepted – that should be non-negotiable.

    1. Accepting ORCA has already been negotiated in the contract. The Council just needs to take formal action calling on SMS to accept ORCA, and then SMS has about a year to make it happen or opt out of the contract.

  16. This problem could be solved if the city reclaimed the ROW for a streetcar that would connect at Westlake. One monorail could go to MOHAI, the other to Vegas! ;)

    1. Once the new ST3 tunnel is open, I’d rather reuse the monorail structure with a High-Line-esque re-purpose.

      I suppose you could rebuild 5th Ave with bus/streetcar lines, but post-ST3 there simply won’t be that many buses going through downtown.

  17. What’s “got my goat” about this whole discussion is the amount of energy being wasted on the tiniest detail of a major problem we’ve had solved ever since 1962. Millions of dollars’ worth of capital investment, creating the perfect tool for its use.

    A high speed horizontal elevator between Downtown Seattle and an exhibition ground a mile or so away. Like every other elevator in the city, very hard to extend or expand to any other place or transit mode. And also like every other elevator- especially some brand new ones- needing maintenance.

    Might be easiest to give it to Seattle Streetcar, because it needs train mechanics to service it. I’d advocate harder for human drivers if I hadn’t always personally avoided picking it for fear of falling asleep at the bubble. Might seriously be first thing to try automating.

    Also easy not to charge fares at all, for same reason buildings with elevators don’t. Benefit delivered outweighs cost of collection. But if Seattle Streetcar runs it, there will be no more reason not to have it take ORCA cards. At all. Who’d lose?

    Mark

  18. Seattle should hand operations over to metro. It’s ridiculous a private company gets to make profits off of Seattle city property.

  19. The Seattle Council now needs to play hard ball, and force SMS to accept ORCA, or operate it itself (or ask Metro to do it). It is time to stop treating the monorail like a toy, and start treating it like any other form of public transportation. That means accepting the ORCA card. The company is a private company, and they are putting their own private interest over the needs of the public. The city council should force them to do the opposite.

    1. Gosh, the monorail could play a key role in easing traffic right now, if it were integrated into the public transit fare system.

      Without the monorail being public, Key Arena remains a difficult-to-get-to playtoy for the rich, one for which I’m not too fond of funding the renovation.

    2. Not the luxury of elevated ROW but I’ve been working in Lower QA for about 6 years and I have no problem taking Rapid Ride D between Westlake and Key.

  20. It should be noted that the fares cover all costs for the monorail. Let me highlight “all”. It competes fairly with all other levels of transit without the levels of government support that other transit operators enjoy.

    So, as long as people are willing to pay for the service, what’s the issue? Seattle turned down an extension and a new system. I don’t see how it’s relevant or remotely fair to require the one profitable operator in Seattle to take a reduced fare.

    It’s still the fastest, easiest and best ride from the space Needle to Westlake that nobody can touch for the price.

      1. Just curious. What is the total contribution of dollars from 1993 to current minus total inflow from outside sources?

        Put another way, what if the monorail didn’t have to siphon off revenues to the city?

        Now, what is total farebox for sound transit minus the inflow from local, state and federal dollars?

        What if sound transit didn’t have that support?

        Since Seattle takes a healthy piece of the pie, every year, it’s clear they feel it’s a worthy investment.

      2. What if a county hospital could charge what it wanted in order to make a profit, and the parks department, hypothetically owning the land the hospital is on, took half the profit?

        Why would there be any fuss about turning sick and dying people away?

    1. The point of the monorail shouldn’t be to compete with other transit. It should complement the rest of the transit system. We own both.

      Nor should the point of the monorail be to raise funds for the Seattle Center. If the Seattle Center is losing business because of being so inaccessible, skimming operating profits from the monorail is a self-defeating solution.

      This sales pitch about profitability isn’t going to help solve the traffic congestion made worse by pushing daily commuters onto slow buses between Westlake and the Seattle Center. We need all the help we can get to get commuters out of traffic. Help, us, Seattle Center and monorail, please.

      1. Seattle Center is not a business, it’s a public park. The monorail revenue avoids the need for the city to subsidize the Center further , or to curtail Center programs that would make the park less useful and less used.

  21. Great comments. So, I reached out to the Seattle monorail about the alleged funds. Basically, Seattle put that money in the bank and handed a few bucks to the Seattle monorail. Again, subtract the fed funds from the piles of cash the Seattle monorail hands to Seattle…And one realizes there is no subsidy at all. It was Seattle’s choice to divert those funds and put them in the bank. Not the concessionaire.

    But…Please keep going on about having metro ruin it…I mean run it. Metro and sound transit hate the monorail. It’s not a bus and it’s not a light rail and it’s better and people like it. And..It doesn’t run a deficit every year.

    1. I’ve seen no evidence anyone hates the monorail. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be making such a big deal about making it more accessible to the public.

      The disagreement here is treating it as a private entity, when (1) the City of Seattle owns it; (2) it is an awesome transit asset that could do a lot more for the daily public transit needs if operated as a public transit line rather than a bake sale for the Seattle Center; and (3) the Seattle Center would come out farther ahead operating it as a transit line rather than a bake sale, since Seattle Center vendors would get a lot more daily business.

      Showing off how a public transit line could be operated profitably by being granted free public right-of-way may seem cool, but unfortunately it isn’t being operated as a public transit line, defeating the point of the sales pitch.

      And I don’t think anybody is riding the monorail because they heard the profitability sales pitch. I think they are riding it because they want to get between two places fast.

      1. So, just I have this straight. You, and a few others, know how to more profitably run the monorail than a)the monorail contractor and b)the City of Seattle.

        By a)Taking a form of script that comes with strings attached and b)decreasing their intake of cash which is settled daily for something that is settled possibly monthly.

        So that c)the system that literally hands $$$$ to the city like a crack dealer to a cartel…can now deal with Orca script as well?

        Hold on, I am emailing the city this thread so they can jump on this new and exciting business plan like white on rice.

        You folks crack me up. The city knows that every form of transit BUT THE MONORAIL takes handouts to run. Clearly they should put the monorail in that bucket so they can add the monorail to the pile. “For the public good”. Oh yeah. The city has the best deal going. They got the monorail for free, pay someone to run it which pays like a Vegas Slot machine.

        Seriously.

      2. There’s no evidence Metro or ST hates the monorail.

        The monorail runs a profit because it’s a very short line between two high-volume places, it was built when construction was much cheaper, it was paid off long ago, it’s grade-separated so it doesn’t get caught in traffic like the buses do, it has the allure of a view, and it’s a unique historical thing from Seattle’s most famous moment. Buses and light rail have the expense of low-volume coverage routes, going through population holes between urban villages, deadheading to the base, deadheading for a one-way peak express run, and on and on. The current monorail is in no way comparable to citywide or regionwide transit, so the fact that it makes a profit is irrelevant to the problem of comprehensive transit. If the monorail were a larger network, say going to the CD and Fremont, they it might have a deficit too.

      3. Most of the commenters here can certainly read other people’s arguments better than you can, Mr. Smith.

        Again, we’re arguing *the Seattle Center* can probably make more money by operating the monorail as a higher-ridership public transit line.

        Regardless, that is not the goal, nor is increasing the profitability of the monorail. SMS know how to make an operating profit. Nobody is disputing that.

        We’re arguing over whether the Seattle Center and SMS are operating this valuable piece of infrastructure in the best public interest.

        We also have a plan for how to make the monorail more affordable and accessible to residents of modest means. The Seattle Center and SMS have offered no such plan.

    2. Also, while some here may be calling for ending SMS’ contract, the main call is for SMS to operate the line as a public transit line, by integrating their fares with the public fare system. SMS already agreed to accept fare integration. They should do it.

      1. The contract says that if the city declares that the monorail will use ORCA and SMS wants to continue the contract after that point, it would have to accept ORCA. It agreed to the contract. Do we know that SMS opposes integration and would leave, or is that just a speculation? I said above that companies generally put profit above public good (i.e., ridership), but that doesn’t necessarily mean that this company is unwilling to work with this ORCA plan. We won’t know until we ask them, and the city hasn’t asked them yet. It could ask them by declaring ORCA and seeing what SMS does, or it could (if this is legal) ask SMS whether it would remain if the city declared ORCA. Of course there’s a third possibility, that SMS might say it would remain but then leave.

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