News Briefs Archive
March 2 - May 13, 2004.
  Hitachi and Jakarta sign MOU. (5/13/04)
Jakarta, Indonesia. Chalk up another big victory for monorail and monorail proponents! Another major city has selected monorail for their main rail transit system. Jakarta government officials are signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with a consortium to build two lines totaling 27 kilometers. The PT Jakarta Monorail consortium is made up of Indonesian, Japanese and Singaporean investors. This is also another big victory for Hitachi, as they will add another system to their growing portfolio of monorails built outside Japan. Jakarta's previous talks with Monorail Malaysia fell through, giving Hitachi the opportunity to bring their straddle-type monorail to Indonesia. Jakarta is a city of 11 million people and has some of the worst traffic in Asia, with resulting pollution causing respiratory illnesses. Hitachi, through another consortium called the Cascadia Monorail Company, is vying for a chance to build their first monorail in North America in the City of Seattle.

Jakarta opts for monorail to ease traffic congestion. Jakarta Post, 5/14/04.
Jakarta Signs Deal for Monorail. Laksamana.net, 5/14/04.
  30-day test begins in Las Vegas. (5/13/04)
Las Vegas, Nevada. They're giving it another shot. On Monday, the Las Vegas Monorail began another 30-day test period, which if successful will lead to the long-anticipated opening. The test period includes running the entire system as it would in full service conditions. No passengers are onboard, but all other aspects of the test will duplicate a normal operation. Las Vegas Monorail officials stress that this test period does not guarantee any particular date for the opening. Another glitch could result in a re-start of the 30-day test. However, they are confident that "sometime this summer" is a good bet. During testing earlier this year, a drive shaft fell from one of the trains, and later operational software problems arose. The monorail will initially run approximately four miles between the MGM Resort and the Sahara Resort. A three-mile extension to downtown Las Vegas is planned to begin construction within the next few years and open by 2008.

Monorail milestone. KVBC TV, 5/11/04.
  Proposal for Hershey. (5/8/04)
Hershey, Pennsylvania. American Idea Network (AIN), a Harrisburg-based company, is proposing a monorail to serve Derry Township. If built and it becomes successful, it could be extended to Harrisburg in the future. Tom Brogan of the Derry Township General Authority told the Hershey Chronicle that AIN would like to get the system built without asking for any money from the township. "We would be interested in participating in looking at the development of the idea. We said yes as long as it doesn't cost us any money. If they have a plan, I'd like to hear it." Heading up AIN's proposal are Del Riley and Donald Fry. Riley has been in contact with TMS to gather information on monorails and various aspects of their development.
  New look for Monorail Society Website. (5/8/04)
Fremont, California. The Monorail Society Website has had essentially the same look since it premiered in 1998. KISS has been the philosophy (keep it simple stupid), yet it was felt that is time has come to improve navigation and the website look. TMS has recieved some comments that having a Disney monorail prominently featured on our home page was at odds with our "not just a ride" theme. The new header for the home page features the TMS logo, which includes what some might consider a Disneyesque monorail. However, a new field has been added to the home page that will allow us to highlight various features of the website with a marquee photo. Our premier marquee image steers visitors to the highly-popular Kuala Lumpur photo essay. Future marquees will encourage site visitors to explore more areas of the website. TMS President Kim Pedersen says that "during the re-design of the site I was amazed to find out we have assembled over 400 pages of content! Hopefully the new buttonbar (at the the top of every page), the homepage marquee and the new site map page will help our site visitors to explore a bit more." A lot of the content remains the same, but we look forward to making other improvements as time goes on. Considering the increase in interest in monorails and new systems under development, many more pages WILL be added as well! Thanks to TMS members for the many ideas that are helping improve the site and we continue to welcome your comments.

rendering courtesy of SMP


Seattle Center northwest route selected. (5/5/04)
Seattle, Washington. On Monday the Seattle City Council voted for the Green Line to cross through the Seattle Center. The "northwest route" was established as a result of input from neighbors in the area and the majority of museum, theatre and business groups at the Center. The Seattle Times and Seattle Post-Intelligencer also endorsed the northwest route. This short stretch of track has been one of the most hotly debated alignment issues since the Green Line was first proposed. The voter-approved 2002 monorail ballot initiative deferred the route decision to a later date because of the debate. Recently a monorail advisory panel had recommended a different route that circled the Center to the north, but it was felt that route would interfere with traffic and hurt business. The new route will run directly through the Experience Music Project building, as the current monorail does, then pass Memorial Stadium and the International Fountain before stopping at Key Arena. More difficult decisions are to be made by the Council before monorail bidders will submit their proposals in mid-June. Opponents to the monorail are attempting to slow the decision process and kill the project, but the Center route decision demonstrates that the Council is stepping up to make important decisions in a timely manner.

Selected route, diagram and map (292 K pdf). Seattle P-I, 04/05/04.
Sensible track for monorail route. Seattle P-I, 5/5/04.
City Council endorses monorail route through Seattle Center. Seattle P-I, 5/5/04.
Monorail route gets Seattle City Council's OK. Seattle Times, 5/5/04.
Monorail's best route is through the Center. Seattle Times, 5/4/04.

courtesy of Amerityre

  Will tire revolution help monorail? (4/28/04)
Boulder City, Nevada. A tire revolution may be coming, and it just might have an affect on hundreds of types of vehicles and the way we use them. As we have heard over the years, one of the limiting factors in monorail speed is tire technology. Perhaps new non-rubber technology for tires can help monorail break current speed limits set by overheating and weight limits. Amerityre, of Boulder City, Nevada, has introduced new closed-cell foam polyurethane flatfree tires for bicycles, wheelchairs and other small vehicles. They are also engaged in the development of polyurethane elastomer tires for highway and agricultural use, based on their proprietary technology relating to the manufacturing of tires from liquid elastomers. The company claims that their tires are shock absorbant, have good traction, are flatfree, have a constant psi, are perfectly balanced, have a longer life, are100% recyclable and won't dry out or crack. Could this re-invention of the wheel find its way into monorails? For an NBC News video story on the company and its technology, visit the Amerityre website.

Seattle monorail recall 1st signature drive fails. (4/23/04)
Seattle, Washington. Monorail Recall (MR), a group trying to stop the Seattle Monorail Project (SMP), failed in its effort to gather 50,000 signatures for a ballot initiative for yet another vote on the monorail. Seattle citizens have already voted for monorail three times. MR Co-Chairwoman Patricia Stambor told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer the group will attempt a less ambitious initiative to kill the project by persuading City Council members to not to allow it to be built on city streets and property. The new tactic only requires 18,000 valid city voter signatures within 180 days. According to Stambor, with those signatures the council could approve the proposal and effectively kill the monorail project by denying SMP the use of city right of way. Monorail Chairman Tom Weeks said "The voters have already spoken on that subject, I eagerly await the opening of bids because I believe we're going to be able to sign a (construction) contract and move into construction this fall." Bids are due from Cascadia Monorail Company and Team Monorail on June 15th.

Monorail labor agreement signed. Opponents of project now pin hopes on the City Council. Seattle P-I, 4/22/04
Seattle Monorail Project website


Houston paper blames drivers, not LRT. (4/20/04)
Houston, Texas. Those who follow transit news know that the new Houston light rail transit (LRT) system is the poster child example of why trains in the street is a bad idea. Accidents occur on a regular basis, bringing traffic and the rail system to a standstill. Sadly, people are injured and are sometimes killed also. The Houston Chronicle's editors stated yesterday that the paper "frequently receives letters from readers wondering why the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) chose light rail instead of a more distinctive, futuristic monorail system. The argument for elevated monorail swelled during a rash of collisions between Metro trains and private vehicles at grade." Evidently monorailists aren't the only ones coming to this logical conclusion. However, the Chronicle defends MTA's decision and says "Better enforcement of the traffic rules and more conscientious driving habits, not monorail, are the solution to our transit safety problem." Yeah, it's those rascal car drivers and pedestrians getting in the way of trollies again. How many vehicle vs. train accidents would have happened by now if Houston stuck with the original 1988 MTA decision for monorail? That plan was killed by Mayor Bob Lanier after promising to do so during his election campaign. Incidentally, we haven't seen one safety program have success in ending light rail/auto/pedestrian accidents yet, have you?

Why no monorail. Houston Chronicle, 4/19/04.


Seattle Team Monorail loses major companies. (4/20/04)
Seattle, Washington. Bombardier's Team Monorail, established to bid on the Seattle Monorail Project (SMP), lost two major construction companies from their team. Peter Kiewit Sons' Inc. and Granite Construction Company have told Bombardier that they're withdrawing as prime construction contractors for the 14-mile Green Line. Kiewit and Granite were two of 19 companies on the Bombardier team. The companies withdrew because of other commitments to major projects and a concern over the "risk of building monorail." Tom Stone, president of the company that formed the Bombardier team, told the Seattle P-I that he thinks there's a good chance both contractors eventually will perform some construction work if the team's bid is accepted. Bids from Bombardier's Team Monorail and Hitachi's team, Cascadia Monorail Company, are due June 15. The deadline can be extended by SMP if contractors ask for it. In other Seattle Monorail Project news, the City Council approved general guidelines for designing monorail facilities and changing rights of way to accommodate the new transit system. Other elements of the project are still being reviewed by the council, including the alignment.

Monorail team hit by firms' pullout. Seattle P-I, 4/20/04.
Major player quits 1 of 2 teams bidding to build Green Line. Seattle Times, 4/20/04.
Seattle monorail suffers setback. KOMO TV, 4/20/04.
Seattle council approves monorail guidelines. Puget Sound Business Journal, 4/20/04.

art courtesy of Aerobus


Aerobus announces Weihai bridge project. (4/6/04)
Weihai, China. Aerobus International has announced that the City of Weihai selected Aerobus for a spectacular suspension bridge project. A 4.2 km, three-station Aerobus system will be built entirely over water and will require only 9 spans for the entire distance. The system will connect Weihai with Liugong Island. Getting to the island now requires a 20 minute boat ride. The suspension bridge system will have seven towers of similar design to other suspension bridge supports. However, one tower will be called the Weihai Star and be 257 meters high. A station will be located at the tower, where tourists will be able to take elevators up to the 208 meter level for an amazing view of the bridge and region. Initially, the system will have three suspended Aerobus vehicles, each with three to four modules. The system is scheduled to open in 2006. Further information on Aerobus and the Weihai system can be found at the Aerobus website.

art courtesy of Aerobus


Seattle monorailists fight back. (4/3/04)
Seattle, Washington. As anti-monorail forces are stepping up their efforts to derail the Seattle Monorail Project (SMP), ardent supporters of the monorail are once again coming to the foreground to do battle. The Stranger, a local publication that has tirelessly gone to bat for the monorail, this week published a series of informative articles arguing in favor of completing the project. Joel Horn, head of the SMP, refers to the Stranger as "an irreverent (and sometimes obscene), hip, cynical, must read weekly newspaper." TMS President Kim Pedersen says "the current series of articles is a must-read for monorailists, especially in Seattle. It would be tragic for the project to get this far and let a few loud obstructionists stop what Seattle citizens have voted for three times."

Save the monorail! The Stranger, 4/1/04.

Special plea to TMS Members from President Kim Pedersen


Seattle monorail board approves route. (3/30/04)
Seattle, Washington. The Seattle Monorail Project (SMP) board has given final approval for the 14-mile Green Line. This comes after 15 months of intense work. Over 925 meetings have been held and over 5,000 people attended open houses, workshops, public hearings and community meetings. Hundreds of alternatives for stations locations along the route have been considered, along with numerous options for the actual location of the track. An enormous amount of decisions have been made, most of which draw praise and criticism at the same time. One would have to look hard to find any other transit project that moved as fast or as open to public input as the Seattle Monorail Project. The next major milestone will be the release of proposals from the two teams headed by Bombardier and Hitachi.

Major Milestone in Progress for Seattle Monorail Project Spurs Community Thank You Event. Business Wire, 3/30/04.
The next monorail stop: City council. Seattle P-I, 3/30/04.
Monorail board OKs route for Green Line. Seattle Times, 3/30/04.
Seattle Monorail Project website


New service for Seattle Alwegs? (3/29/04)
Bremerton, Washington. Yet another proposal is being made to keep the historic Seattle Center Monorail trains running, as opposed to being static displays in a museum. Bremerton City Councilman Mike Shepherd has proposed that the city look into acquiring the monorail and moving it to Bremerton. Shepherd believes the monorail would solve the pedestrian-vehicle problem during ferry arrivals better than the city's preferred alternative to build a $28 million tunnel for departing traffic. Others have questioned the need for a tunnel. Shepherd wants the monorail option to be included in an upcoming environmental assessment. He also would like the city to begin negotiations to acquire the two Alweg trains, guideways and related parts. But wait, there's more! Shepherd sees the monorail as the possible foundation of a 4-mile circular route that would eventually connect Manette Bridge, Harrison Hospital, Olympic College and downtown Bremerton. The current Alweg monorail system is scheduled to be retired in 2005 when construction is supposed to begin on a 14-mile, $1.75 billion Green Line monorail.

City councilman wants to elevate tunnel debate. The Bremerton Sun Link, 3/29/04.
Seattle Center Monorail website


Seattle project intensifies with EIS release. (3/21/04)
Seattle, Washington. The Seattle Monorail Project final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) was released March 10th. As businesses and citizens pour over the details of the plan for a 14-mile system, critics are coming out of the woodwork. Anti-monorail forces focus in on problems and negativity rules the day in press reports (as it usually does). For monorailists however, though some have disagreements with elements of the plan, a final EIS release is one more step towards a major non-resort urban monorail system in the United States. The final EIS looks at alternative alignments, stations, facility locations and other elements of the system. The EIS is available on the Seattle Monorail Project website, including numerous illustrations of how the system could look. Another positive for the project is that the Seattle Monorail Project committee approved a project labor agreement (PLA) for the 14-mile Green Line. The PLA was first agreed to by 36 local unions. With labor standing to gain 2,100 new jobs in the community for the monorail, the project gains a strong ally. No lockouts, work stoppages or delays will be allowed under the agreement, which will help ensure the project stays on schedule and on budget. Meanwhile, monorailists are fighting a rising tide of negativity over the project with comments of their own. Dick Falkenbury, the man who founded the grassroots effort for monorail in Seattle, recently commented on the TMS Discussion group: "I would argue that the monorail movement in Seattle--official and grassroots-- has made a huge mistake in agreeing that the monorail is a negative intrusion that we must either mitigate or apologize for. That is wrong. The monorail is a positive. Even the track, in my opinion, is a graceful, beautiful addition to the city landscape. It is especially a positive if placed up against the alternative: more traffic, more roads, more buses, more pollution and more covering the earth with concrete and asphalt."

Seattle Monorail Project website
Monorail's stark reality beginning to sink in. Seattle Times, 3/18/04 (written by future word eater).
Monorail moves towards PLA deal. Seattle DJC, 3/17/04.
Proposed monorail takes a new turn in Sodo. Seattle P-I, 3/17/04.


Las Vegas: April opening out, summer in. (3/21/04)
Las Vegas, Nevada. Unofficial opening dates for the Las Vegas Monorail have so far been January 1st, first quarter of 2004, and late April. The latest buzz coming from Sin City is that the monorail won't open until sometime this summer. For those of you not keeping track of seasons, Spring just started! According to a report from KLAS TV, "the company managing the project is still conducting tests on the computer software that runs the entire rail system." The familiar explanation is being expressed, "we want it to be safe." So was the original plan was for an unsafe monorail? Bottom line with the opening delays is cynicism from the public, which isn't good for those of us promoting monorail. However, once it's running and carrying the projected 19-million passengers per year, the success of the system will certainly help everyone forget misteps in opening date predictions. Whenever the opening is, the Monorail Society plans to be there. Stay tuned for details if you would like to join us!

Delays in opening of monorail could be costly. Las Vegas Sun, 3/22/04.
Las Vegas Monorail: testing delays opening. Las Vegas Review-Journal, 3/20/04.
Monorail's April launch pushed out. KLAS TV, 3/19/04.


LA-Ontario maglev study gains 1/2 million. (3/21/04)
Los Angeles, California. The Los Angeles City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved spending more than $500,000 to join a regional study of a maglev line from West Los Angeles to Ontario Airport. The council voted 14-0 in favor of the study. City councilman Antonio Villaraigosa, chairman of the council's Transportation Committee, said "We have an opportunity to exert leadership in the region." Los Angeles is the last of three regional bodies to support the Southern California Association of Government's (SCAG) efforts to pursue a first $5.5 billion segment of a regional maglev system with the 55-mile line. SCAG sought $1 million from Los Angeles, Ontario and San Bernardino Associated Governments to match $2.5 million in federal funds to further study the line's feasibility. The maglev would be built through a public-private partnership with government loans to be paid off with ticket revenues. Lockheed Martin wants to design, build and operate the system.

Council oks maglev funds. LA Daily News, 3/16/04.
California Maglev Alliance website

  Shanghai-Hangzhou maglev studied. (3/10/04)
Shanghai, China. China is considering a major extension of the new Shanghai Transrapid maglev line. The current 30 km line connects Shanghai to Pudong International Airport. The proposed extension would add approximately 200 km to the system and would allow sustained, higher speeds. It would connect Shanghai to Hangzhou. Hangzhou is one of the most popular tourist spots in China. A feasibility study has been under way, but the project is still waiting for approval from the central government in Beijing. German news reports have been optimistic, stating that Transrapid was about to wrap up a deal to build the line. If the maglev gains approval, construction would tentatively start next year and completion could be by 2008. The maglev would reduce the city-to-city travel time from the current two hours to about a half-hour.

Shanghai mulls second MAGLEV train to neighbouring Hangzhou. Yahoo News, 3/9/04.
Shanghai considers high-speed train. CNN, 3/9/04.

Munich maglev preview center (3/9/04)
Munich, Germany. Visitors to Munich International Airport are getting a glimpse into the future in a dramatic fashion. A full-size Transrapid car is on display, complete with an elevated segment of track. Along with the vehicle, a maglev display room has pictures, multi-media stations with films and animations that show visitors many aspects of the project. There is even a Transrapid simulator for visitors to get an idea of what the ride will be like once built. Engineering is currently under way for the dual-track 37.4 km long system. The preview center is open daily from 10 AM to 8 PM, admission is free.

Munich Transrapid website


Press: Las Vegas opening delayed. (3/2/04)
Las Vegas, Nevada. Before the Las Vegas Monorail can open to the public, the system needs to be tested for 30 days continuously to prove its capabilities. That test hasn't begun, according to sources in Las Vegas, which means that it won't open during the targeted first quarter of 2004. The Clark County building division is still testing aspects of the system. If the tests are successful, an early April opening is possible. Terry Murphy, a Las Vegas Monorail Company board member, said "When it does open we're going to make sure that it is fully operational and safe. We have to make sure the testing is done properly."

Monorail debut postponed again. Las Vegas Sun, 3/02/04.


Switch to Hitachi in Jakarta? (3/2/04)
Jakarta, Indonesia. According to reports in the Indonesian press, Malaysia's MTrans has been dropped as the supplier for a proposed monorail in Jakarta. Jakarta Governor Sutiyoso says the project will proceed instead with Japanese firm Hitachi as its top investor. "Their (Hitachi) offer costs more but it will be worth it as the company has good quality monorail technology," he stated. Hitachi is offering to build the system for around $600 million, which is higher than MTrans $540 million offer. The governor recently completed a five-day visit to Japan and praised Hitachi for applying its monorail technology in Japan for around 40 years without any errors or fatal accidents. "The monorail in Malaysia is good but has not been proven in the long-run, unlike the Japanese," he said. If the Hitachi deal becomes a reality, it could be preceived as sweet revenge for Hitachi. Hitachi was dropped in the Kuala Lumpur Monorail project after the Asian financial crisis in favor of the new monorail builder MTrans.

Sutiyoso returns with projects. Jakarta Post, 3/1/04.

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