MRV on track. (2/16/03)
Las Vegas, Nevada. Supertrak Inc. of Punta Gorda,
Florida, delivered a MRV (Maintenance Recovery Vehicle) to the
Las Vegas Monorail on February 5th. Shortly after its arrival,
a large crane lifted the vehicle onto the beam. The MRV is now
parked inside the OMSF (Operations Maintenance Storage Facility).
The company was contracted by Bombardier to provide the vehicle,
which will be used for both track maintenance as well as towing
of disabled trains. Supertrak previously supplied similar MRVs
to Walt Disney World. Thanks to David Sampson of Supertrak for
the news. Images of the MRV arrival are available in our Construction Gallery.
Maglev coalition formed. (2/5/03)
Washington, DC. The United States Maglev Coalition
(USMC) announced its formation today. Former Bethlehem Steel
executive Richard Cochran will preside over a growing
group of partners including labor, steel, concrete, engineering
and technology interests. Member companies already include United
States Steel Corporation, General Atomics, Parsons, the Baltimore
Development Corporation, Bethlehem Steel, Transrapid International-USA,
Hirschfeld Steel and Maglev, Inc. Cochran said "Maglev is
the lynchpin of future travel in America. The convergence of
excessive highway congestion, unacceptable pollution levels,
and a national over-reliance on foreign oil is a compelling set
of circumstances for America to finally pursue this safe, high-speed,
and low maintenance mode of transportation."
States Maglev Coalition of Industries Organized. Yahoo! Finance,
Senate bill threatens Sound
Transit light rail. (2/3/03)
Seattle, Washington. Senators Benton, Prentice,
Esser, Rossi, Finkbeiner, Johnson, T. Sheldon, Roach and
Stevens of the State of Washington last week introduced
a jaw-dropping bill. SB 5537 calls for a general election to
approve funding for Sound Transit's Link Light Rail system or
else cease and desist all work on the project! The bill also
allows for the possibility of changing the technology from trolley
to monorail, which would result in a more seamless rail transit
system throughout the Seattle area. The bill tells Sound Transit
to evaluate possible alternatives to light rail, including: monorail,
expanded commuter rail, expanded bus or vanpool service or any
other "allowed alternatives." If the proposed Sound
Transit project was monorail instead of light rail, monorail
riders could ride directly from downtown Seattle to Seatac International
Airport without having to transfer to and from the planned Green
Line system. The bill has been referred to the Committee on Highways
& Transportation. Whether this bill sees daylight or not
is still in question, but the questioning of the controversial
light rail project is certainly getting stronger.
Senate Bill 5537 information. Washington State website.
New Seattle Center route proposed.
Seattle, Washington. The Seattle Center's advisory
board may have solved one of the Green Line's alignment problems.
Last night they revealed a new suggestion for routing to get
through the popular Seattle destination, once the site of the
1962 Century 21 World's Fair. The new proposal would allow for
the new monorail to cut through the EMP museum tunnel, something
that the owners are very strongly in favor of. However, instead
of passing through a view-sensitive area by the Children's Theatre
or circling the Center on the north side, the monorail would
cut across the Fun Forest amusement area and then pass behind
trees near the International Fountain on the north side of the
Center. A station would be located by the Key Arena, which would
also serve several theatres in that area and residents of Queen
Anne Hill. Support for the proposal was very strong at yesterday's
outreach meeting with area residents. Joel Horn, the monorail
project's executive director, stated that said the authority
will have to study the proposal further, but said it had possibilities.
option for monorail. Seattle P-I, 1/29/03.
routing centers on Center. Seattle Times, 1/29/03.
New cross-Center proposal (red lines indicate Key Arena Station)
Vegas Mark IVs retire. (1/29/03)
Las Vegas, Nevada. Two dutiful Disney-built Mark
IVs retired for the second time Sunday night. Previous to Las
Vegas, they operated for many years in Florida at Walt Disney
World. Shortly after 10 PM the MGM-Bally's Monorail made its
final run. The last train carried about three dozen passengers,
many of whom were hotel employees taking the opportunity to say
farewell to the trusty old trains. The just-shy-of-a-mile shuttle
operated for 7-1/2 years and carried almost 40 million passengers.
It was designed to be a catalyst for a larger Las Vegas Monorail,
which will be achieved when the current track is connected to
a four-mile system under construction. New automated Bombardier
MVI trains will run along the same tracks when the new line opens
in early 2004 and on to the Sahara Resort. Both the MGM and Bally's
stations will be improved for to accommodate the new monorail
and the beamway will be upgraded as well. Anthony Foster had
the honor of driving the last run from MGM to Bally's in the
green and gold MGM train. Much speculation has been made over
the fate of the old trains. No sale has been made as of this
date. For now they will be kept in storage.
monorail makes last run. Las Vegas Review-Journal, 1/28/03.
Route challenges for Seattle.
Seattle, Washington. The Seattle Popular Monorail
Authority (SPMA) is getting down to the nitty-gritty of planning
the14-mile Green Line, approved by voters in November 2002. Two
alignment issues are heating up, how to get through or around
the Seattle Center and how to deal with the 1962 Alweg Monorail,
which parallels the current desired route for the Green Line.
To avoid a controversial cross-Center route, the Elevated Transportation
Company (ETC), which preceded the SPMA, drew out a route that
circled around the north end of the Center. This route would
add 30 seconds to the monorail trip, and cost up to $7 million
more to build. Compromise may be in the works and a possible
route through Seattle Center may happen after all. Owners of
the Experience Music Project have stated they want monorail to
continue to cut through their unique museum structure (see image).
Without it, the museum who have a big hole in it and lose part
of the uniqueness of the design. Still, there are those that
would prefer to see monorail track surround the Center rather
than cut through a short section of it on the south side. Another
contentious route issue the SPMA will deal with is how to run
from the Center to downtown. If the ETC plan is adopted, the
Green Line would run down Fifth Avenue and turn onto Stewart
Street. Two problems with this are that Westlake Center in downtown
would lose a highly-valued monorail station and Seattle may lose
the Alweg Monorail, most of which is original track from 1962.
Some argue that the trains should be saved, perhaps for a museum,
but that Fifth Avenue would be used to complete the dream of
Alweg engineers, a citywide system. Perservationists argue that
the Alweg line should be treated as a historical landmark and
saved. This month the SPMA is holding six community workshops
to discuss these issues and others with citizens.
will monorail line run? Seattle P-I, 1/18/03.
Seattle Popular Monorail Authority
Pinellas County plans to receive
public comment. (1/12/03)
Pinellas County, Florida. Pinellas County planners
want elevated rail, perhaps monorail. Grimail Crawford Inc. has
studied the prospect for rail in the area and helped formulate
ways to implement a system. Although technology has not been
selected yet, monorail reportedly is strongly favored. If planners
get what they want, eventually a system will run from Clearwater
Beach east to the St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport,
then south to St. Petersburg. The long route is tentative and
some think a starter demonstration line based on the Las Vegas
MGM-Bally's model would be a good way to convince voters to pay
for a larger system. A beach connector in Clearwater is one possibility,
where ridership and visibility would likely be high. Officials
plan to hold a series of public workshops around the county next
month to hear what residents think about the idea. Funding is
hoped for from the Federal Transit Administration and local taxpayers
would likely be asked to pay their share for the system as well.
Federal funds may be hard to come by as some 200 cities are also
are looking at federal rail dollars for their own systems, said
consultant Mike Crawford. While the county has flirted
with the idea of a rail system for 30 years, county planning
director Brian Smith says "This would be the first
really serious proposal." Congestion has been an enormous
problem for the county, and additional roads aren't seen as the
best solution to help alleviate the traffic or make travel time
faster from point to point.
ask: Has light rail's time come? St. Petersburg Times, 1/12/03.
Monorail for Penang, Malaysia.
Penang, Malaysia. When Malaysians decided to build
their own monorail system for Kuala Lumpur, they changed transit
in their country forever. The country is moving forward with
plans for a second Malaysian monorail system in the capitol city
of Putrajaya, and now will likely build another monorail for
the Island of Penang. Work is expected to begin on the Penang
Monorail in early 2004. Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu
Koon states that completion of the system will be in 2007.
Two companies have submitted proposals for the project, using
the "Made-in-Malaysia" system that is cheaper to manufacture
than competing systems from Japan, North America and Europe.
The proposal is for a link from George Town with Bayan Lepas
in the south to Tanjung Tokong in the north. Dr Koh said
the Penang Monorail would be a smaller version of the Kuala Lumpur
monorail. The island has only about 600,000 people compared to
Kuala Lumpur's four million.
on monorail to start next year. Malaysia Star, 1/11/03.
Are floating bridge monorails next?
Monorail fever spreads from
Seattle to neighbors. (1/11/03)
King County, Washington. We knew it would happen,
Seattle's successful monorail campaign would spur similar new
campaigns. It turns out that one of the first groups to be formed
is right next door to the City of Seattle. A new committee is
being formed to promote a 59-mile network of suburban monorails
as an alternative to freeway expansions surrounding Seattle.
The Citizens for King County Monorail are proposing monorail
lines around the north of Lake Washington from Bothell to Northgate,
a line from Redmond to Seattle using a future floating bridge
on I-520 and a line from Bothell to Federal Way. Cleve Stockmeyer,
co-author of the second Seattle Monorail Initiative and Chairman
of the new group, would like to see a $20 million planning effort
similar to what the Elevated Transportation Company did for Seattle.
King County Monorail Website.
pushes suburban monorail. Seattle Times, 1/11/03.
chance for a Mark IV ride? (1/8/03)
Las Vegas, Nevada. Another bit of monorail history
takes place on Sunday, January 26th when the MGM-Bally's shuttle
monorail ceases operation. The monorail first opened in 1995
and was a success from day one, shuttling passengers between
"the two hottest corners in Las Vegas." While it is
less than a mile long and has only two stations, on a daily basis
it has carried more passengers than some light rail systems that
are fifteen times longer with far more stations. The track was
built with system expansion in mind and that is why it is going
to be closing soon. The track will become part of a larger 4-mile
system using new Bombardier M-VI trains. Stations will be retrofitted
for automated trains, the track will be upgraded for M-VI trains,
a turnback switch will be added at MGM and the guideway will
be connected to the new line by cutting directly through the
Bally's building. The new Las Vegas Monorail System will open
in early 2004 (Phase I). Currently the line uses two refurbished
Mark IV trains that were acquired used from Walt Disney World.
What will become of the trusty old Mark IVs? That's the big question
of the month. Hopefully this won't be the last time we see them,
perhaps they can be used for another "start-up" line
somewhere. No matter what their fate is, if you want to ride
them in Las Vegas one last time you better make plans quickly!
Shanghai Transrapid makes
inaugural run. (12/31/02)
Shanghai, China. German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder
and Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji were among the first passengers
on the inaugural run of the Shanghai Transrapid Maglev. The maglev
monorail train carrying Schroeder and Zhu took just eight minutes
to run 30-km (19 miles) from the city's financial district to
the Shanghai International Airport, a trip that normally takes
45 minutes by automobile. "I have complete confidence that
the maglev technology will have a broad future in China,"
Zhu said. Zhu called the two-year construction of Shanghai system
a "miracle." Transrapid - made up of Siemens, ThyssenKrupp
and the German government - is hoping that success will lead
to deals not only in China but also the United States. Shortly
after the inaugural run with Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji, Schroeder
told reporters that China has agreed to extend the line. An extension
south to Hangzhou and north to Nanjing is planned, totaling an
estimated 300 km of maglev track. China is also pondering an
ambitious 1,250-km line linking Shanghai to the capital Beijing,
costing an estimated $22 billion. The Shanghai Maglev is scheduled
to start commercial operations in late 2003. Tickets will cost
150 yuan ($18.12) each for a round-trip ticket.
Zhu, Germany's Schroeder test ride maglev. Reuters, 12/31/02.
says wins coveted China maglev train deal. Reuters, 12/31/02.
Photos of Shanghai Maglev inaugural run. Yahoo, 12/31/02.
Kuala Lumpur nears completion.
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Test runs are continuing
on the Kuala Lumpur Monorail. The system is scheduled to open
before March 31, 2003. New images of the guideway and stations
taken along the entire alignment were recently posted on the
Monorail Malaysia website. The monorail design demonstrates numerous
ways to deal with rounding corners, the crossing of long spans
and negotiating the many curved streets of the city. Monorail
Malaysia is the first full-scale Alweg system to employ arched
beams, a design that was first developed for the reduced-scale
Walt Disney World Monorail System.
Lumpur Monorail Construction pictures. Monorail Malaysia
Vancouver's Skytrain bridge.
Seattle Monorail Project picks
design team. (12/19/02)
Seattle, Washington. The Seattle Popular Monorail
Authority (SPMA) has added a countdown to opening day of the
first segment of the Seattle Monorail System's Green Line. The
date has been set as December 15, 2007. Continuing their fast
pace to stay on schedule, the SPMA announced the selection of
three professional service providers: VIA Suzuki as the lead
design firm; Norton-Arnold & Company as lead community involvement
team; and Parametrix, Inc. as the lead environmental consultant.
All three firms will begin work immediately. VIA Suzuki was chosen
to lead the urban design and architectural effort. This will
involve a process to build a design team, comprised of a variety
of local firms, to work on the monorail guideway, stations, and
water crossings. Among many accomplishments, VIA Suzuki lead
the design effort for the initial line of Vancouver, B.C.'s Skytrain
as well as the recently completed Skytrain Millennium Line. They
were able to blend several firms together to design the eleven
new Skytrain stations in Vancouver, B.C. Lead Designer Allan
Hurt said "We will work closely with the Seattle Monorail
Project to design a public consultation and design procurement
process that ensures that the Seattle Monorail, its stations,
and its urban design components will be distinctly Seattle ---
a showcase of our city's renowned design talent and technical
team selected to design monorail. Seattle Times, 12/17/02.
four. Seattle Stranger, 12/19/02. [ed: funny!]
Las Vegas spur line plan altered.
Las Vegas, Nevada. On Monday the Regional Transportation
Commission unveiled a revised route for the first Las Vegas Monorail
spur line to carry passengers. Initially the line was designed
to run from the Las Vegas Hilton via Riviera Boulevard to a station
at the Riviera Hotel, follow down the middle of the Las Vegas
Boulevard Strip, then turn and terminate at the Stardust. Because
of concerns along the route, the spur has shortened to eight-tenths
of a mile and will have only one station. That station will straddle
the Strip and will serve both the Riviera and Stardust. The spur
line is designed with expansion in mind and may some day connect
major resorts of the west side of the Strip.
Las Vegas Monorail Maps page. RTC Website.
LV Strip monorail plan unveiled. Las Vegas Sun, 12/17/02
hired for Seattle monorail project. (12/12/02)
Seattle, Washington. The Seattle Popular Monorail
Authority is growing. Yesterday, Joel Horn, the Executive
Director of SPMA, announced several key position appointments.
Michele Jacobson, a consultant with Lea & Elliott
and formerly with San Francisco's Bay Area Rapid Transit for
twelve years, will serve as SPMA's Director of Design and Train
Systems. Ven Knox, the city of Seattle's human services
director, will serve as Director of Community Involvement. Daniel
Malarkey has been named Director of Finance. Malarkey worked
with the Elevated Transportation Co. in the development of the
project's $1.75 billion plan. Ross Macfarlane, a partner
at Preston, Gates & Ellis, will be Director of Legal Affairs.
"We are building this agency around talented and experienced
professionals," said Horn. "The citizens of Seattle
entrusted this agency and board to build a monorail on time and
within budget. These individuals, specialists in their fields,
will deliver on that request." Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels
said "With the talent of this staff the Monorail is well
on its way to helping create a 21st Century transit system for
agency fills key posts. Seattle P-I, 12/12/02
photo by Keith Walls
White House likes public-private
Las Vegas, Nevada. Senator Harry Reid of
Nevada got a special look at the Las Vegas Monorail on December
2, (his 63rd birthday) when he toured the construction site.
Reid, Democratic Senate whip, is negotiating with the Bush administration
in an effort to obtain $150 million more to extend the line north
from the Sahara Resort to downtown. The funding would provide
much of the $350 million needed to bring the monorail downtown.
The rest would come from a government loan and sales of bonds,
Regional Transportation Commission General Manager Jacob Snow
said. Snow also said the project has allies both on Capitol Hill
and in the White House. He said the RTC is optimistic that it
can get federal funding for more monorail construction. "The
(Bush) administration really likes this project because of its
public-private nature," he said. "We're hearing all
the right things from the Federal Transit Administration."
With funding and approval of the environmental impact statement,
construction on the link to downtown could begin in 2004.
calls monorail transportation of the future. Las Vegas Sun,
Houston Monorail proposal of 1990-
too futuristic for Space City?
Houston area group formed.
Houston, Texas. Ten years after a Houston Monorail
plan was nixed by then-Mayor Bob Lanier, Metropolitan
Elevated Transit-Houston has been formed to promote elevated
transit for Houston and the surrounding metropolitan area. Beyond
Houston, they also would like to see maglev connect major cities
of Texas. Don Gallagher, founder of the group, says that
the group was formed "to promote elevated guideway transit
as an alternative that is 100% dedicated for safe and efficient
travel. The savings of not using at-grade, will allow the free
use of the land normally used for at-grade systems for other
purposes." Downtown Houston streets are currently being
torn up for a new street-level 7.5 mile light rail line. The
MET-Houston group has been added to our Campaign
Myrtle Beach to study monorail.
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Atlanta-based consultant
Carter & Burgess is conducting a state-funded study to look
at transit options for the Myrtle Beach region. The $100,000
study is the latest in a decade to consider a monorail or light
rail system for the area. The cost of building a system has prevented
any action in the past, but officials believe they are quickly
approaching the point that action must be taken to build. The
study is focusing on the Grand Strand tourism area: east of the
Intracoastal Waterway from Barefoot Landing to the former Myrtle
Beach Air Force Base. The goal is to give tourists and locals
a way to get around that keeps them off the region's highly congested
roads. The Grand Strand attracts 14 million tourists each year.
launch monorail study. Myrtle Beach Sun News, 11/29/02.
Monorail milestone. (11/30/02)
Naha, Japan. On Monday the new Hitachi monorail
system on the island of Okinawa made its first test run along
the entire length of the line. The train started the run at Oroku
Station near the airport, moved through the line stopping at
each station on the way to the end of the line at Shuri Station.
A ceremony was held before the run "to ensure safe operation."
At the ceremony, Okinawa Urban Monorail Company President, Governor
Keiichi Inamine sprinkled Awamori (Okinawan sake) on the
rail and inside the train. Then over 100 invited guests boarded
the two-car train for the first ride. Test runs will continue
into the spring of 2003, when the 12.8 km system is scheduled
SPMA hits ground running.
Seattle, Washington. The Seattle Popular Monorail
Authority dashed from the starting line yesterday with its first
meeting, only three days after election results were finally
known. Joel Horn, who was an intergral part of putting
the monorail plan together, took the helm of the SPMA as executive
director. The interim 10-member board, made up of the Elevated
Transportation Company board members, will be replaced in early
2003. Five members will be appointed by the current board, two
by the mayor and two by the City Council. The interim SPMA board
announced the hiring of Seattle-Northwest Securities as its financial
adviser. Also, Salomon Smith Barney and Goldman Sachs will serve
as underwriters for bond issues. Interest rates are at historic
lows and the board is anxious to issue bonds as soon as possible,
which could save the monorail millions of dollars. Preston Gates
& Ellis and Foster Pepper & Shefelman will act as SPMA's
lead legal firms. This Monday, the SPMA will run an ad in the
Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce seeking to find the monorail
project's lead architect and urban design firm. Continuing the
ETC's remarkable public outreach history, another ad will be
placed asking for proposals from firms to arrange six community
meetings to gather comment from neighborhoods along the planned
14-mile Green Line. The Seattle Monorail project is under way!
project gets off the ground. Seattle P-I, 11/23/02.
Authority moving quickly. Seattle Times, 11/23/02.
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