Frequently Asked Questions

We are eager to share what we know about the promise of monorail. Please browse the frequently asked questions below, or to submit a new question, email us a

Why aren’t more metropolitan areas building them?

Monorail has simply been overlooked in the United States as a viable transportation alternative. But not in the rest of the world. Monorails were originally built in the US as theme park rides. The first Monorail was in Seattle, built specifically as a “ride of the future” for the 1964 World Fair. And it is still operating today. Disney World also was built in this era, 1962-4, and still operating. However, they are loops, not two way and not full transportation systems. Accordingly, monorail is sometimes thought of as an amusement ride, and they have been completely overlooked as a transit option.

Is the effective lifespan of monorail 5 times greater than surface modes?

Historically, many of the components of a Monorail system can achieve five times the lifespan of comparable components for surface modes like Bus Rapid Transit. The system, electric motors and concrete rails, requires periodic maintenance rather than replacement.

Why are the operating costs for monorail less than competing modes like Bus Rapid Transit?

Monorail systems are automated, have fewer associated labor costs, and fewer moving parts to maintain. In addition, elevated monorail cars stay cleaner and are less prone to vandalism.

Can monorail operate at ground level?

Yes. Monorail can run at ground level, above ground level, or even inside below-grade subway tunnels. The only noteworthy restriction is that when at ground level, there can be no grade crossings, however. Monorail trains can accommodate short grades of up to 10% and extended grades of up to 6%.

Will monorail block the sun?

Yes on a very limited basis. The shade effect of monorail is a mere fraction of a typical roadway, bridge, or elevated commuter train/subway line. Standard rails are a mere 27.5 inches wide in each direction and the emergency walkway grate between the rails is designed to allow sunlight to penetrate.

How do you get up to the stations?

Like other transit modes, monorail stations are accessible by elevators, escalators, and stairs. These stations may be at street level or they may be elevated, which minimizes utility conflicts and land acquisition costs. Unlike other transit modes, when built as a part of new, mixed-use construction, monorail can penetrate interior spaces. In these stations, passengers can board the monorail without having to go outdoors.

Can monorail provide emergency evacuation?

Yes. All new monorails are built with continuous emergency evacuation walkways that connect to Stations or evacuation stairways located at strategic intervals. Walkways would typically sit between parallel monorail guideways but can also be cantilevered from a single guideway when necessary. For elevated structures, the emergency access and egress should comply with NFPA 130 (2007), Sections 6.2.1 and

Can Monorails be procured competitively?

Yes, there are three major competitive international manufacturers of mass transit grade straddle beam Monorail today; BYD, Bombardier, and Hitachi. This is comparable to the three major manufacturers which have supplied a great majority of the world’s transit systems.

Can monorails switch tracks like other rail lines?

Yes. Switch beams have been in operation since 1964. Transit authorities can select from several types of switches, giving them the same operational options for monorail as they have for rail.

Does a monorail have a narrow footprint?

Yes. Monorail typically sits on 6 foot square columns allowing it to fit into many existing government owned rights-of-way.

Are Monorails trains fixed or can they be expanded?

Monorail systems can easily switch between low capacity and high capacity as needed. They are designed with automatic on-line coupling capability and can be upgraded to 8 car configurations - carrying as many as 40,000 people per hour per direction -- during peak ridership hours.

Are monorails easy to build?

Yes. Prefabricated components consisting of basically columns and beams can be erected quickly.

Is Monorail a proven technology for rigourous urban transit?

Yes. The first monorail line was created more than a century ago, and monorail has been a part of major urban transit networks since Tokyo built its monorail system in 1964. Everyday, around the world, millions of travelers ride monorail to get where they need to go. The highest utilized network is in Chongqing China with over 1.5 millions riders daily.

How eco-friendly is the monorail system?

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.

Is monorail reliable?

Yes. There are 42 urban monorail systems operating in the world today. Each day they safely shuttle millions of passengers between hundreds of stations with 99.5% reliability -- the highest reliability of any transit mode. Weather has a limited impact on service and it is totally segregated from automobiles and pedestrians and animals.