Across the globe there are close to 50 Monorail Systems that daily reliably carry millions of people. In Chongqing, China alone, the monorail system operates approximately 1.3 million passengers per day.
During construction and operation, monorail generates far fewer disturbances compared to the alternatives. Its footprint is a mere 36 square feet for every 100 ft of elevated track reducing ground disturbance during and after construction. It accordingly has a minimal storm water footprint, and the long spans create space for hiking/biking trails, as well as maintaining large corridors for wildlife to roam beneath. The slim, concrete guide rails create minimal shadows, while the electric motors and rubber tires combine for a smooth, quiet ride.
Now there are 42 urban monorail systems operating today totaling over 269 miles world-wide, with over 400 stations, reliably carrying millions of passengers per day.
Monorail incorporates over 60 years of evolutionary improvements since the first straddle monorail systems were built in the 1950s. Today monorail systems can operate on a pinched loop circuit, run on automated positive train control, use level platform loading, support full standing height walk-through trains, and travel at up to 65 mph.
Monorail networks are much easier to build than surface networks. The structural system is concrete, prefabricated off site and erected on support columns, typically with a 6' x 6' base (36 square feet) placed every 100 feetalong the route. Since it is elevated, it removes typical high cost construction elements of surface rail associated with moving underground utilities. The support columns can be constructed with much less ground disturbance. Since it is prefabricated and erected it is easy to Budget costs within 90% of final just knowing the length and route from Point A and Point B.
A single, automated monorail network can be dynamically configured for multiple capacities. While typical operations may call for a 4-car system arriving at 2 minute intervals, for example, the same network can be switched to a 6-car system arriving at 75 second intervals during peak hours.
This flexibility allows monorail to operate as either light or heavy rail depending on need.
Much of the cost and complexity of traditional road and rail projects originates during the land acquisition phase. New rights of way need to be secured, environmental studies need to be commissioned, and existing utility structures need to be moved and re-engineered.
In contrast, the efficient, elevated design of monorail often allows it to fit into existing rights of way. This saves cost, time, environmental damage and risk - not to mention land.
Monorail requires the lowest operating and maintenance costs of any mass transit system. Elevated monorail cars are much less likely to suffer vandalism and often remain much cleaner than ground based rail. As well, key components, like engines and guiderails last significantly longer than bus and train equipment, resulting in lower long term operating costs.
REVENUE AND EXPENSE
The High Road Foundation is proposing an in depth study of Monorail for the 270 corridor, from I-370/Rt 200 (Inter County Connector) north to Frederick.
Further study is required, but the Level 1 study indicates that the system should not require annual public subsidy to operate (O&M). To confirm that indication a Level 2 and higher study needs to be performed. Cost of the Level 2 study has been determined to be approximately $250,000 more than the Level 1 which the Foundation already funded.