Monorails Might Have a Future After All
In an article that appeared in Slate a few years ago, Tom Vanderbilt observed that the monorail was becoming "a historical footnote"–ironically at the same time that Streetcars, which had once been tossed into the dust bin of transit history, were enjoying a rebirth. Though the streetcar revival has only picked up speed since Vanderbilt made his observation, the construction of new monorail systems in Sao Paulo, Mumbai, Riyadh and Chongqing seem to indicate that rumors of the transit mode's demise have been greatly exaggerated.
Kaith Barry reports on the imminent opening of the 17-mile Silver Line in Sao Paulo, just in time for this year's World Cup. "Unlike monorail systems that more tourist attraction than useful transit, the automated Silver Line is designed to move 48,000 passengers each hour each way between two major suburbs when it opens in March," he explains. "The monorail was a good solution for a city that had to solve transportation issues in a hurry: Digging more underground tunnels would have been too expensive, and streets were already too clogged for enhanced bus service."