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Seattle Axes Monorail Project

CmdrTaco posted about 9 years ago | from the more-of-a-shelbyville-kind-of-idea dept.

News 524

Sokie writes "This afternoon the Seattle City Council passed a resolution advocating the terminiation of the Seattle Monorail Project. This follows a recent recommendation by the mayor that the project be scrapped. Lacking city support, the project looks to be dead and the city council will request that the state legislature formally terminate the project during their next session. City councilman Richard Conlin noted that the $1 million per week tax collection required by the SMP would be enough to eliminate fares on the city's bus network."

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Monorail! (5, Funny)

98jonesd (633833) | about 9 years ago | (#13644638)


Re:Monorail! (1)

Viperlin (747468) | about 9 years ago | (#13644925)


Monorail... (5, Funny)

SteevR (612047) | about 9 years ago | (#13644640)

Monorail... Monorail... Guess the good citizens of Seattle checked up on what happened to the monorail in Springfield and all those other poor towns.

Re:Monorail... (2, Insightful)

toddbu (748790) | about 9 years ago | (#13644689)

I'm really glad that they killed this, even though I don't live in Seattle proper. As a resident of King County (of which Seattle is a part), I could see the handwriting on the wall - the project gets into financial trouble and somehow it's up to the rest of the county/state to bail out the project because it's "vital" to the region. What a load of crap! I'm glad to see politicians finally have the balls to stand up and call this project what it is - a "nice to have" project that the city just can't afford. Too bad this doesn't happen more often.

Re:Monorail... (4, Insightful)

Lemmy Caution (8378) | about 9 years ago | (#13644770)

Um, Seattle is pretty much carrying the rest of the state in terms of tax burden to services provided. In much of the US, it's the town that carries the rural, not the other way around.

Not that the monorail was a good idea.

Re:Monorail... (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13644705)

Lyle Lanley: Well, sir, there's nothing on earth Like a genuine, Bona fide, Electrified, Six-car Monorail! What'd I say?
Ned Flanders: Monorail!
Lyle Lanley: What's it called?
Patty+Selma: Monorail!
Lyle Lanley: That's right! Monorail!
[crowd chants `Monorail' softly and rhythmically]
Miss Hoover: I hear those things are awfully loud...
Lyle Lanley: It glides as softly as a cloud.
Apu: Is there a chance the track could bend?
Lyle Lanley: Not on your life, my Hindu friend.
Barney: What about us brain-dead slobs?
Lyle Lanley: You'll be given cushy jobs.
Abe: Were you sent here by the devil?
Lyle Lanley: No, good sir, I'm on the level.
Wiggum: The ring came off my pudding can.
Lyle Lanley: Take my pen knife, my good man.
I swear it's Springfield's only choice... Throw up your hands and raise our voice!
All: Monorail!
Lyle Lanley: What's it called?
All: Monorail!
Lyle Lanley: Once again...
All: Monorail!
Marge: But Main Street's still all cracked and broken...
Bart: Sorry, Mom, the mob has spoken!
All: Monorail!
[big finish]
Homer: Mono... D'oh!

Re:Monorail... (3, Funny)

turthalion (891782) | about 9 years ago | (#13644711)

I wonder why they decided against it.

Was there a chance the track could bend?

Re:Monorail... (3, Funny)

Meshach (578918) | about 9 years ago | (#13644725)

Not on your life my Hindu friend

Re:Monorail... (1)

los furtive (232491) | about 9 years ago | (#13644855)

What about us brain-dead slobs?

Re:Monorail... (1)

generic-man (33649) | about 9 years ago | (#13644909)

They were given cushy jobs [] .

Re:Monorail... (1)

Guy.Gregory (891062) | about 9 years ago | (#13644913)

You'll be given cushy jobs.

OB: Simpson's (4, Funny)

laejoh (648921) | about 9 years ago | (#13644652)

I told them already it's more of a Shelbyville idea!

Mono... D'oh! (-1, Redundant)

hemp (36945) | about 9 years ago | (#13644734)

Monorail Song
Lyle Lanley:
Well, sir, there's nothing on earth
Like a genuine,
Bona fide,
Monorail! ...
What'd I say?
Ned Flanders:
Lyle Lanley:
What's it called?
Lyle Lanley:
That's right! Monorail!
[crowd chants `Monorail' softly and rhythmically]
Miss Hoover:
I hear those things are awfully loud...
Lyle Lanley:
It glides as softly as a cloud.
Is there a chance the track could bend?
Lyle Lanley:
Not on your life, my Hindu friend.
What about us brain-dead slobs?
Lyle Lanley:
You'll all be given cushy jobs.
Were you sent here by the devil?
Lyle Lanley:
No, good sir, I'm on the level.
The ring came off my pudding can.
Lyle Lanley:
Take my pen knife, my good man.
I swear it's Springfield's only choice...
Throw up your hands and raise your voice!
[singing] Monorail!
Lyle Lanley:
What's it called?
Lyle Lanley:
Once again...
But Main Street's still all cracked and broken...
Sorry, Mom, the mob has spoken!
[singing] Monorail!
            [big finish]
Mono... D'oh!

Let's get 'em all out of the way . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13644655)

Is there a chance the track could bend?

Re:Let's get 'em all out of the way . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13644794)

Not on your life, my hindu friend.

Not suprising (2, Insightful)

bnet41 (591930) | about 9 years ago | (#13644657)

It sucks, but there is very little interest in these projects in the US. Our country is just not layed out in a way that makes various rail projects feasible.

Re:Not suprising (5, Informative)

tigersaw (665217) | about 9 years ago | (#13644760)

Actually, there is in fact great interest for building rail transit in Seattle, the Monorail was just doomed from the start by poor management and poor planning. However, the Sound Transit Light Rail [] is chugging along just fine, and with any luck will complete its own line and supercede that which the monorail would have occupied in the near(ish) future.

Pressure from oil interests? (1, Interesting)

CyricZ (887944) | about 9 years ago | (#13644664)

Does anyone know if there was any pressure from the oil/petrol interests, overt or otherwise, to prevent this project from going forward?

Yes, because everything is a conspiracy (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13644727)

Put your tin foil hat back on you damn dirty hippy.

Re:Pressure from oil interests? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13644731)

What kind of a moron are you? Look into this's a horribly expensive debacle that almost everyone in Seattle has come to oppose.

Re:Pressure from oil interests? (3, Insightful)

bitfoo (852965) | about 9 years ago | (#13644745)

It's my understanding that not every decision is reminiscent of a cloak and dagger-esque thriller between the good people of the City Council and the "evil" oil companies. And actually if you RTFA you'd note that it was just far too expensive to continue with the project. I would venture a guess that they learned this from a cost-benefit analysis rather than pressures and death threats from oil barons with large hats and shiny monocles.

Re:Pressure from oil interests? (1)

Average_Joe_Sixpack (534373) | about 9 years ago | (#13644751)

Does anyone know if there was any pressure from the oil/petrol interests, overt or otherwise, to prevent this project from going forward?

I doubt it at this point. The oil companies are basically stating that the world is running out (ex: Chevron's peak oil site [] , Beyond Petroleum ...) []

Re:Pressure from oil interests? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13644753)

Is there pressure from the Aluminum Foil Hat industry regarding your post?

Re:Pressure from oil interests? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13644755)

Your and idiot and so are the people who upped the score on this many damn idiots I tell you.

Speaking of that (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13644788)

am I the only one that finds it ironic that they plan on paying for the clean up of the hurricanes that affected oil production by eliminating the subsidy for Amtrak, one of the most energy efficient forms of transportation. A subsidy I might point out is dwarfed by the subsidies they've given and will give to the airlines, one of the most energy inefficient forms of transportation.

Re:Speaking of that (1)

ThesQuid (86789) | about 9 years ago | (#13644860)

They are actually going to eliminate the Amtrak subsidy? It's about TIME. For all the money thrown at that piece o' crap, they could have bought each passenger a car and a driver to drive them around.
Rail's great, hell, I was just on the Shanghai maglev last weekend, but Amtrak is a JOKE.

Re:Pressure from oil interests? (2, Insightful)

cc-rider-Texas (877967) | about 9 years ago | (#13644805)

I worked in the oilfields for 20 years, and I can tell you that the oil and gas companies aren't all evil. This isn't to say that there aren't greedy people at the top in some companies (Enron) who won't screw everybody to get ahead, but to automatically paint any oil company as evil with some kind of hidden agenda to make sure that a project like the monorail in Seatle will fail is just a little too left-wing stupid for my tastes. The simple fact is that everybody drives, and oil companies don't have to engage in conspiracies to make money. I realize that on slashdot it is considered trendy and kewl to be on the left and hate and mistrust any company, but a little intelligence should be applied to any situation like this and not automatically assume there is some kind of conspiracy.

Re:Pressure from oil interests? (3, Funny)

HotNeedleOfInquiry (598897) | about 9 years ago | (#13644816)

Not exactly. There is, however, serious speculation that the Microsoft/Starbucks/Boeing Triumvate of Evil it behind it. It's common knowledge that car drivers drink more coffee, buy less software and fly on fewer commercial flights than their mass-transit cow-orkers.

Re:Pressure from oil interests? (1)

tekiegreg (674773) | about 9 years ago | (#13644862)

Not sure whether or not this is Sarcasm, but I'll rebuke this as best I can:

1)Starbucks: Fine, I tell Starbucks they can set up Espresso stands in each Monorail car and station. Problem solved
2)Microsoft: Funny you'd think I'd be on my Laptop more using Microsoft applications when not distracted by needing to drive.
3) Boeing: HUH?? When do people fly from one side of Seattle to another?

Not Oil, LRT (1)

WindBourne (631190) | about 9 years ago | (#13644887)

monorail is competing with Light Rail. There is one that was started in Seattle, but it has been a nightmare (it makes the monorail look absolutely positive). So what you have is have a business group (lrt manufact.) and unions (nomally, monorails uses far less than 1/2 of the labor of lrt) that are fighting monorail. That is why monorail is going up in other countries (india, china, japan), as well as private enterprises (Las Vegas) are pushing monorail. LRT actually cost a great deal more than monorail.

Re:Pressure from oil interests? (1)

Chokai (10224) | about 9 years ago | (#13644898)

The monorail was largely killed because it was going to be more expensive to build than originally thought and revenues from the licensing tax for cars were lower than anticipated and were not growing as fast as projected I heard that it turns out the models given by the state to the authority in order to calculate car ownership, growth of car ownership and the value of the cars purchased did not consider a purely urban area, where fewer people per capita own cars. (Seattle already has an excellent bus system, I have a car but don't really need it except to visit family that lives elsewhere.) Because of the shortage in tax revenues the bond life length was going to have to be extended. What was originally going to be a $2B project with a couple of billion in interest balloned to over $11 billion.

Aside from city residents who opposed for cost, aestetic, losing thier property or other reasons the organized resistence consisted of gov't agencies that were in favor of the already underway regional light rail project and amusingly anti-tax activists who were of course in this case were largely not from Seattle and were not paying the tax in the first place, but still complained.

taxation never drops (1)

republican gourd (879711) | about 9 years ago | (#13644666)

Heh. So now that we aren't doing the monorail project anymore, lets keep the monorail tax anyway. Were the busses in Seattle so unpopular/expensive that they need to be subsidized this way?

Take a stand against the taxation! (2, Interesting)

CyricZ (887944) | about 9 years ago | (#13644699)

The taxation never drops because many people in your area must not have the balls to stand up and say, "Motherfuckers, I have had enough of this taxation!" Like your Founding Fathers showed time and time again, the only way for the citizenry to avoid the greed of government is to take a stand and demand that the taxation be reduced.

Hmm (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13644667)

I see 4 out of the first 5 comments are Simpsons references, once again proving that nobody on Slashdot has a sense of humour to call their own.

Re:Hmm (4, Funny)

ettlz (639203) | about 9 years ago | (#13644710)

Shut up, or we'll put you on a plane to North Haverbrook.

I agree (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13644714)

I went so far as to hire my own team of crack Jewish humorists to create my own Simpson's-free material for Slashdot postings. The rest of you should be ashamed.

Re:Hmm (1)

thc69 (98798) | about 9 years ago | (#13644716)

Okay, how about this:

Re:Hmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13644782)

I for one welcome our new Simpsons referencing overlords

Re:Hmm (1)

telstar (236404) | about 9 years ago | (#13644817)

I see 4 out of the first 5 comments are Simpsons references, once again proving that nobody on Slashdot has a sense of humour to call their own.

Is yours the fourth or the fifth?

Re:Hmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13644828)

I like the way Anonymous Coward thinks!

Re:Hmm (1)

kevin_conaway (585204) | about 9 years ago | (#13644876)

Hmm, your ideas are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.

In all seriousness though, there is hardly any original comedy anymore. A lot of comedy (and good comedy at that) is taking well known situations or jokes and referencing them in obscure ways.

Being a huge Simpsons fan, I love seeing Simpsons headlines on Fark or a well-made reference here on Slashdot.

Monorail fixation (4, Interesting)

Alomex (148003) | about 9 years ago | (#13644676)

What is with the fixation with monorails? why is one rail supposed to be so much better than two?

For some reason in the mid 50's monorails became equated with high tech, thus EPCOT and the Seattle monorail. All evidence suggests that there is nothing special about monorails. The fastest and most advanced in-use trains in Europe to this date still run on two rails.

Or is this just a case of "my monorail is bigger than yours"?

Re:Monorail fixation (1)

interiot (50685) | about 9 years ago | (#13644728)

Monorails seem to be used in elevated minimum-footprint applications? Like the Tokyo/Odaiba monorail [] , and I think there's one at the Expo 2005 in Aichi. Their main benefit isn't speed, it's more for compactness (and for tourists too, yeah, it does seem to be a bit of a gimmick).

Re:Monorail fixation (2, Insightful)

Bushcat (615449) | about 9 years ago | (#13644818)

They're slow, have low capacity, and so are desperately overcrowded. The Odaiba monorail is a complete joke at weekends. Compare with the Rinkai Line, which is a standard subway line to the same area. Each train moves, what, 8 times as many people at 3 times the speed?

And before eulogising about "mass" transit around Aichi, we're talking about an expo that had people queuing up to 8 hours to get in, 2-5 hours at exhibits and stations. Mass transit is exactly that: move a lot of people quickly and transparently. Mass transit isn't supposed to be a destination in and of itself, it's supposed to be a tool. Right now, big stupid engineering still does a way better job most of the time. Tonka-toy engineering is cute, but it's a vanity.

Re:Monorail fixation (2, Interesting)

toddbu (748790) | about 9 years ago | (#13644733)

Although I was totally against the project, I think monorails offer a lot that light rail and heavy rail don't. Their biggest benefit is that, like a subway, it has little or no impact on surface traffic. Unlike subway, however, it's much cheaper to build since you don't have to dig everything up. Monorails are a good idea. Seattle's implementation would have been good too, but after spending billions on sports stadiums and a regional light rail system, the city just couldn't afford it.

Re:Monorail fixation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13644740)

Footprint. The one (mono) rail is a very minimalist design. Basicly if you have never seen one its just a cement guide way. In a city like seattle elivated lite rail would be very out of place. A very big plus in the design is its very quite smooth ride. If you are ever in seattle I sugest you take a ride and see what all the fuss is about.

Re:Monorail fixation (5, Informative)

Martin Blank (154261) | about 9 years ago | (#13644774)

They're supposed to be:
  • Quieter -- They use non-metallic wheels, often on a non-metallic surface, though I don't know if this applies to high-speed monorails.
  • Aesthetically pleasing -- Since they are usually on raised structures, they use less surface space, don't interfere as much with foot or vehicle traffic, and the rails and their supports can be made to look nice.
  • Safer -- They're relatively hard to derail, and since the rails don't usually run at ground level, there are fewer things to hit.
  • Less expensive in the long run -- Not sure how this works out, since I've not seen the economics of monorails.

I can see the point of the proponents, but US transportation management does not have a good record of building expensive things now and having them operate less expensively later.

Because "train" sounds old ... (1)

GNUALMAFUERTE (697061) | about 9 years ago | (#13644837)

People is stupid, they want what is new. It doesn't matter if what you allready have is better.
We have had trains for more than a century, it's old, it surely isn't good, regardless of the fact that is the cheapest, cleanest, and more comfortable form of public transportation.

O, a Monorail?, that's good, it was about time we got ride of those stupid trains.

Build a roller-coaster instead (1)

Hao Wu (652581) | about 9 years ago | (#13644897)

I bet people would ride roller-coasters if given the option.

They stand in line at themeparks to ride a short track that goes nowhere (just a short loop). Why not make it into one long ride that goes from the suburbs to the city?

Good thing I sold my condo in West Seattle (1)

jimmy page (565870) | about 9 years ago | (#13644678)

It's sad that they paid all that money in car tabs for nothing, and then still don't really have an adequate transportation plan.

Seattle's downtown doesn't need one (3, Insightful)

saskboy (600063) | about 9 years ago | (#13644679)

Seattle didn't strike me as a place that needs a monorail, unless the outerlying 'burbs don't have a viable link with the other parts of the city?

New York would need one, if it weren't for the subway. I bet the council got the idea for a monorail from watching Batman Begins. They saw Gotham City had one, and wanted one too.

Sorry I don't have a Simpsons joke to share. So my work here is done.

Re:Seattle's downtown doesn't need one (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13644769)

The Seattle metro area is a transportation disaster. The monorail project was a rather piss-ant and misguided attempt to address the issue. The problem with the area is not so much the lack of interest in improving the transportation infrastructure, it's the fact that Seattle - with it's lakes and the Sound and the difficult topography - make transportation infrastructure very expensive to build. My understanding is that at least in Seattle-proper, there is fairly good ridership on the busses. But long-distance transporation on busses is neither quicker than driving nor is it more comfortable, so why would anyone want to live in Redmond or another outlying city and commute into town on the bus? If Seattle is to ever get a quality transit system (something which I advocate), the residents are going to need to put up the cash for it - and it won't be cheap. Until then, I fear that the metro area may come to a point where it can no longer support the amount of growth that it's seen during the last two decades.

Re:Seattle's downtown doesn't need one (1)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | about 9 years ago | (#13644932)

why would anyone want to live in Redmond

Well said!

If Seattle is to ever get a quality transit system (something which I advocate), the residents are going to need to put up the cash for it - and it won't be cheap.

But I'm sure for one Redmond citizen, it would be pocket change!

Until then, I fear that the metro area may come to a point where it can no longer support the amount of growth that it's seen during the last two decades.

Just lets hope the collapse starts with Redmond.

Re:Seattle's downtown doesn't need one (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13644772)

Bingo. If you don't know Seattle geography, different parts of the city (and of the region) are separated by water, and therefore by bridges. Bridges aren't a very scalable solution to an increasing commuter volume, and that's why people wanted a mass transit system (besides the buses, which are okay, but not by themselves a solution). We need something that can throw a lot of people in a particular direction without requiring the addition of surface streets.

Now, me, I could care less if it was monorail, light rail, or pneumatic tubes, but traffic in Seattle is a nightmare. However, the people of Seattle have voted for a monorail no less than 4 times, and approved it every time, so the fact that the city council would just shoot it down like that is a bit disturbing.

Re:Seattle's downtown doesn't need one (1)

cpt kangarooski (3773) | about 9 years ago | (#13644798)

Haven't been to Seattle, huh?

Presently, all their mass transit is just buses. Some form of rail would be desirable. The city's been trying to get trains for ages; the monorail is actually a citizen initiative. The reason for it being a monorail, btw, is because there already is one in Seattle, it's just not very useful since it doesn't go far.

What they could really use out there, however, is a rail link from downtown Bellevue (which is fairly central for the East Side) to Seattle. With only two bridges across the lake, it's a hell of a bottleneck.

Re:Seattle's downtown doesn't need one (1)

saskboy (600063) | about 9 years ago | (#13644849)

Actually I have been, and it was a snap to walk everywhere I wanted to go. That's why I questioned if the 'burbs were the cause of the need for improvements, since a tourist is hardly a sufficient sampling of the population to determine a need for transit infrastructure.

Things to consider about Seattle's transport system would be the potential for a cripling earthquake or mudslide, as well as the water that is everywhere.

When I was there, coming in on the bus, the traffic was as bad or worse than getting out of New York on the bus, and I never drove downtown myself, but it seemed like downtown traffic was manageable. A person I met also, come to think of it, complained they couldn't get back home by bus at a late hour, so they had to crash downtown for the night after a baseball game.

New York DOES have a monorail (1)

waffffffle (740489) | about 9 years ago | (#13644886)

AirTrain JFK [] runs for 6 miles above the Van Wyck Expressway. It connects JFK Airport to Jamaica train station in Queens, connecting the airport to the subway and Long Island Rail Road. I always thought it was amusing that they were building this thing back in 2000 or so. It felt like Disney World with this monorail overhead. I didn't appreciate the traffic that the construction caused on the Van Wyck, one of the most congested highways in the city. I believe the original plan was to create a hybrid train vehicle that could run on both the LIRR rails and the monorail track but that never happened. Therefore it still requires a transfer to get to Manhattan. I haven't actually rode this AirTrain, but I have been on the one at Newark [] .

Re:New York DOES have a monorail (1)

saskboy (600063) | about 9 years ago | (#13644924)

I'm guessing the monorail, or L-train in the Spiderman 2 movie is complete fiction though?

I've been on the AirTrain in Newark too. It was memorable, because I got into the car, which is only big enough for about 4 people and their bags, and the door tried to shut, but wouldn't. An attendant came after a couple minutes, got into the car, pulled off a panel, and tried to unjam whatever had gone wrong. He ended up putting the system into manual, and closed the doors as best he could before telling the train to move to the next station and letting us out manually. This was in 2003 July.

Might as well get it over with... (0)

Robber Baron (112304) | about 9 years ago | (#13644682)

I heard those things are awfully loud...

Re:Might as well get it over with... (1)

Jetboy01 (550638) | about 9 years ago | (#13644777)

It glides as softly as a cloud!

Re:Might as well get it over with... (1)

mikeage (119105) | about 9 years ago | (#13644785)

I heard those things are awfully loud...
It glides as softly as a cloud.

It's actually a little more complicated than that (4, Informative)

neile (139369) | about 9 years ago | (#13644684)

Once the city council backed the mayor to withdraw support, the monoral project was forced to put a measure on the upcoming November ballot so Seattle citizens can vote a fifth time on the monorail project. This time they're being offered the option of a 10-mile long route (as opposed to the original 14-mile route) that would (only) cost $5B. This whole mess started when it was discovered that the original route would wind up costing $11B to build.

The Seattle PI had a good article [] on the latest developments in the paper yesterday.

Doesn't sound dead to me... (4, Interesting)

wealthychef (584778) | about 9 years ago | (#13644698)

From TFA, I read that no decision to terminate the project has been made. Instead, the council voted to terminate as a way to pressure the project to shorten its plans, to shave $250MM off of a $3.6B project.


Monorail board approves ballot measure
By Mike Lindblom
Seattle Times staff reporter

The Seattle Monorail Project board has just approved a Nov. 8 ballot measure to shorten the proposed line, and run it from the Alaska Junction in West Seattle to West Dravus Street in Interbay.

The decision to send a ballot measure to voters came hours after the Seattle City Council agreed to advocate for the termination of the financially troubled monorail plan. Last night, monorail board members rejected putting forward a ballot measure or any plan to shorten the line. Mayor Greg Nickels had pushed hard for both.

"It's time for the people to decide whether they want to save the people's train," said Kristina Hill, SMP board chair.

The City Council today, in supporting Nickels' denial of street-use permits for the project, expressed frustration and anger at SMP's handling of the situation and refusal to come up with a ballot measure last night. They said they would ask the Legislature, which created the monorail agency, to dissolve it.

The deadline to submit a ballot measure is 4:30 p.m. today.

The trim to the planned 14-mile line would cut about $250 million from the $1.64 billion construction contract -- if the contracting team sticks with the project.

Pat Flaherty, president of the Cascadia team, said today his team doesn't want to keep working on the Seattle monorail unless the City Council and Nickels reverse course and actively support the ballot measure.

Gotta wonder if the submitter read the article (2, Informative)

Raleel (30913) | about 9 years ago | (#13644700)

1) The Seattle Monorail Project approved a measure to put a shortened monorail line out. I supposed that supports the word "axes".

2) The city council agreed to advocate terminating the project.

It's certainly not dead yet, but it's not looking good. It looks like the shortening was a last ditch effort to keep it alive.

It's really sad too. Seattle badly needs a train system. They have busses, but a good train would help a lot. For myself, that's one reason I prefer to go to Portland if I have the choice (about the same either way for me) despite having friends in Seattle.

good (2, Informative)

smoondog (85133) | about 9 years ago | (#13644706)

The monorail was a bad idea. I am vigorously supportive of rapid transit. But in this case there are problems. The elevation would block views, it wouldn't be that fast, it was very expensive, and would implicitly divert funds from light rail (a better idea). seattle has a long history of bad urban planning I'm glad that light rail is going forward and this isn't.

-Sean (OutdoorDB [] ) - The Outdoor Wiki

Re:good (1)

Multispin (49784) | about 9 years ago | (#13644790)

Lightrail is VERY expensive in Seattle because of geography. We have deep lakes and fairly tall hills in vert close proximity. The monorail was fairly cheap to build when compared with tunnels. Now, where things got expensive was in a dumb financing plan and lack of sufficient (and stable) tax income.

Given other cities I've been in, Seattle doesn't exactly qualify for the 'bad urban planning' award.

Re:good (1)

smoondog (85133) | about 9 years ago | (#13644847)

Uhh, on the bad urban planning award. Seattle has:

1. They already had light rail (Trolley system), and removed it. In fact, I bet at some point it is going to cost money to move the equipment that is under the street. See this image of the counter balance, for example [] .

2. Due to the fire and sewage problems, Seattle actually raised ground level of downtown up one story to bury their problems. For a period of time, store fronts were underground, and people used ladders to reach them!

3. Seattle actually spent money bulldozing a large hill (See this pic of the denny regrade [] )

4. Traffic continues to be a problem.

etc, etc.

-Sean (OutdoorDB [] - The Outdoor Wiki)

Re:good (1)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | about 9 years ago | (#13644905)

Light Rail works in Portland Metro, we don't have lakes, but we have a river and tall hills in close proximity.

Come down to Portland, then go back to Seattle and then Seattle gets the bad urban planning award.

Imagine that! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13644707)

A hair brained idea that would have cost tax payers millions or even billions while providing little benefit got axed by the City Council. How unlike the City Council to think of the taxpayer!

But, here comes a slew so Slashdot flames for killing a "cool project" that the self appointed experts will now claim could have changed the world for the better, if only the government hadn't ruined everything!

STFU! Dorks!

Public Transit is Critical (5, Insightful)

killercoder (874746) | about 9 years ago | (#13644721)

I live in Toronto Canada, but travel to the US alot on business and for pleasure.

As a Toronto resident I can get by without a car, just about anywhere in this city, even most of the outlying regions, can be reached quickly via rail (and sometimes a connecting bus), its not perfect, but most times my transit time is less than 30 minutes. When I visit New York City its even better, a GREAT public transit system.

Yet if I visit Jacksonville, Housten, Atlanta (hell just about anywhere in the south) I HAVE to rent a car, public transit is poor or non-existant. Yet they wonder why they have smog issues, and traffic congestion? Ever wonder what the south would be like if they had rail? They can't build subways (water table issue) but a monorail or just plain old above ground rail system would go a long way to improving their quality of life. Oil prices too high? Take the train, its cheaper.

Re:Public Transit is Critical (2, Interesting)

CastrTroy (595695) | about 9 years ago | (#13644804)

I live in Ottawa, and to tell you the truth, a good bus system can work almost as well as a rail system. In ottawa, there are special bus only roads. This greatly increases the speed at which buses travel. The only slow part seems to be going through the core part of down town. which is about 7 blocks. Mostly because they are too afraid to shut down the roads to cars. They don't want the car loving public to have to give up one of their roads. Anyway, rail is not always necessary to have a good transit system. A good bus system can work almost as well for inner city transit.

History and race (1)

Thu25245 (801369) | about 9 years ago | (#13644854)

In the South, public transit is closely linked with race. Segregated busses were symbolic of the Civil Rights movement in the 1950s: black people made up the majority of the ridership, and the majority of African Americans did not have cars. the only way that southern whites could be convinced to ride them is if they could be assured a "better" seat.

When the busses desegregated, whites said, "Screw it, I'll just drive."

Such overt racism is not practiced anymore, of course. And most black people have cars. But busses and subways where they exist (Atlanta, for one) still carry the stigma of being the less-desirable mode of transportation. The ridership today still consists of the poor (mostly black) and the homeless. Nobody who can afford a car will take public transit.

It's not limited to the south, or event to the US, either.

Re:Public Transit is Critical (3, Interesting)

Karma_fucker_sucker (898393) | about 9 years ago | (#13644880)

Yet if I visit Jacksonville, Housten, Atlanta (hell just about anywhere in the south) I HAVE to rent a car, public transit is poor or non-existant.

As some one who lives in the Atlanta area and who lived downtown a couple of years ago, I whole heartedly agree. When I was downtown, it was so nice to get on the MARTA to go to work. If you live inside the perimeter, and by a train stattion, it's not too bad, but still nowhere near European cities or New York.

I really wish we would put more money into to system and have something like other cities. There's talk of a perimeter train liine. It'll operate on old easeways that the railroads used to use years and years ago. Which is ironic, this city was founded by the railroads.

Why hasn't anything been done about having more rails? Mostly people are pennywise and pound foolish. They don't want to pay the extra taxes but they are more than willing to dump money into their cars. And there's a lot of excuses about their schedules being too different and how mass transportation won't allow them to go where they need to when they need to (Really, that was an excuse that someone used!) Another reason is that there is still some racial issues. Mass Transportation is still seen as something for poor Blacks and some white folks don't want those people coming around - if a sation is built near them.

Re:Public Transit is Critical (1)

jxyama (821091) | about 9 years ago | (#13644923)

I know you were basically ranting about cities without good public transportation systems... Just to let you know, Seattle has an excellent bus system. One of the problems, however, is that there are many bodies of water in Seattle. For example, there are only two bridges across Lake Washington. The 520 bridge, which connects downtown to Redmond-area (i.e., MS HQ) routinely jams because it's only two lanes on each side.

Re:Public Transit is Critical (1)

utexaspunk (527541) | about 9 years ago | (#13644930)

Houston has built its first light rail line, running from Downtown to the Medical Center/Reliant Stadium, and it has been quite a success, with the exception of the idiots who don't obey the signs and turn in front of the train and get hit (it happens on a regular basis). They have plans to extend it, but they're already getting cannibalized- they're talking about rubber-tired trains for the next line instead of actual rail.

It works really well for densely-populated corridors like the one they've built, but the Main problem in cities like Houston is that most of the growth was done after WWII and the advent of suburbia, and therefore the population is just not dense enough to make rail work well. Particularly outside the loop, there's no one place you can run a line that people can walk to from their homes, and once they're on the train it's unlikely that it will go by wherever it is they work. The system pretty much only works with cars, and it only works marginally then.

re: Monorail (0, Troll)

AlienSexist (686923) | about 9 years ago | (#13644726)

... What about us braindead slobs? You'll be given kooshy jobs ... Monorail! Monorail! Monorail! But Main Street's still all cracked and broken! Sorry mom the mob has spoken Monorail! Monorail! Monorail! Mono... D'oh!

Is this a case? (3, Interesting)

falcon5768 (629591) | about 9 years ago | (#13644732)

Is this a case of the government not thinking to future generations, or there being a general lack of need for a monorail here? How bad is traffic? Into and out of the city? Will it cost less to build this now and not spend tons of money of the roads or to just not build it at all? In the long run?

I ask this only because 99.9% of all city governments have no grasp of these concepts and would gladly pass problems off to their furture generations in seeking the all mighty vote for next term.

Re:Is this a case? (1)

YU Nicks NE Way (129084) | about 9 years ago | (#13644848)

It's something of both. The monorail was a stupid project which was sold as a bargain against the huge cost overruns of Sound Transit. It appealed to Seattle's exceptionalism, while snubbing the rest of King County.

Fair enough, and probably a good thing: the vote to start the monorail did get Sound Transit off its duff and actually building things. However, the vote happened before Seattlites began learning just how expensive the SMP was going to be. Surprise, surprise -- there were huge overruns, there were sweetheart deals, and there were constant fights among the neighborhoods about who get what.

If there hadn't been a competitor to the monorail, I think it's likely that it would be fully funded. However, as there is, the mayor is looking at a huge hole into which the city can poor money it doesn't have, versus a partly working system already on the ground. He can't have both of them, and so he's backed the one which is more likely to provide him with something.

Re:Is this a case? (1)

tigersaw (665217) | about 9 years ago | (#13644873)

Largely, this is a case of poor planning and idiotic capital procurement. Seattle has long wanted and needed a rail system, but the bastardized version that the SMP represented was DOA from the start. A large part of the council that managed it were cronyistic appointees, and were basically out of touch with where the greatest need for public transport lies in Seattle. The 14-mile Green line, as it was proposed, was basically linking downtown with two of the wealthier and more car-disposed family neighborhoods in Seattle. The traffic in Seattle is indeed bad in Seattle (at least relative to our size), but the proposed line was simply not servicing the demographics that were likely to give up their cars, IMHO.

Secondly, there was great resentment for this project from the start, due to it outrageous inability to secure federal or state funds, and it reliance on a 1.4% annual car tab tax to pay the large part of the capital. The biggest problem Seattle has in building projects like these, as opposed to say, Portland, is our ridiculous regressive tax structure. No state income tax may be fine for states like Nevada, Wyoming, and Alaska, but in a state with an urban center as large as Seattle, it's just unbelieveable how anything gets done. Couple that with our pioneer-age constitution requiring direct resolution votes on almost anything important (name one Joe Blow that's going to directly choose to raise his taxes) and you get our recipe for stagnation over the past four decades since the world's fair, and its glorious Monorail.

I hope they like driving... (2, Interesting)

Starker_Kull (896770) | about 9 years ago | (#13644737)

Train projects (or monorail or subway, same thing) are not about the present, but the future. Once an urban environment is built up enough, it becomes prohibitively expensive to buy the land rights needed for such a project, and so the urban system is then stuck with whatever transportation grid it currently has, which is usually by road. The ability to scale up the number of people who drive along a stretch of road is quite limited, even if you allow room for roadway expansion (see Houston and LA); whereas it is easy to increase the number of people who commute over a given section of track by increasing the number of cars per train, increasing the frequency of trains, etc. So what this does in the long term is inhibit a city's growth.

Which might just be a good thing, depending on your point of view.

Re:I hope they like driving... (1)

Martin Blank (154261) | about 9 years ago | (#13644835)

To give you an idea of how little effect it can have, a widening project on the 405 freeway through Orange County (SE of Los Angeles) is tentatively scheduled to begin in five years. It will add two lanes (one in each direction), which will increase rush hour traffic speed by a mere 5mph.

A lack of public transportation is supposed to inhibit a city's growth, and yet people keep coming to this area. The Ventura-Los Angeles-Orange County metroplex still has people virtually flooding into it.

Obligatory Simpsons video (2, Informative)

The Hobo (783784) | about 9 years ago | (#13644741)

The name's Lanley.. Lyle Lanley.. []

From one of my previous comments:

Firefox Users: If the WMV doesn't work, try going tools, options, downloads, and on the bottom right click plugins, uncheck wmv, and if you don't want pdfs opening in firefox (meaning download first THEN open, I prefer this method, always faster and more stable) then uncheck pdf and anything else you don't want opening in firefox

In other news... (1)

CaseyB (1105) | about 9 years ago | (#13644744)

Officials are also considering dismantling the city's controversial Escalator to Nowhere.

Not exactly accurate.... (2, Informative)

Multispin (49784) | about 9 years ago | (#13644756)

The project isn't exactly dead...but it is on the ropes.

A measure will be on the Nov8th ballot authorizing the project to build a slightly shorter line instead of the original 14mile plan. If the voters approve that measure, things start moving again (hopefully with strong support from the city government).

Note that the regional transit agency (SoundTransit) made a verbal promiss when we approved their tax. They ended up deciding to produce a much shorter line. Hopefully people will remember that.

I am new to Seattle, but... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13644761)

I moved to Seattle 6 months ago, so I'm new in the area. However, this entire monorail thing never stuck me as a very good thing. The taxation is quite large - I paid $200 for my car, which is a 2001. I know some people who has to pay over $500 for their newer cars. Imagine everyone in the Seattle-area paying this tax, and yet the project could not come up with a definite financing and budget plan. The numbers kept on going higher and higher, to over $10B for a 14 mile monorail with not an overwhelming number of stations. And they were going to charge fares once up and running..!

Seattle has an excellent metro system that already serves downtown. I think it would be far cheaper and more effective to try to boost the ridership of the metro and encourage people to stop driving to downtown. The building a monorail almost sounded as if it should be done for the sake of building one. Yes, voters approved it 4 times... But I don't think many people realize how absurd it is that a project of this magnitude cannot come up with a proper estimate after all these years and studies.

Costs of Seattle Monorail were too high (2, Interesting)

brazilofmux (905505) | about 9 years ago | (#13644764)

The financing for the Seattle Monorail was interesting. That financing, the lack of transparency in the planning, and the sheer cost of doing it are what killed it. There were several transportation-related measures on the ballot that year, but to the surprise of everyone the monorail was the only one approved. The voters approved a certain tax level, but did not dis-allow or put any constraints on borrowing money. The monorail planners took advantage of this by stretching out the financing to an absurd number of years. The way the financing was done would have soaked up all future tax revenue and forstalled the financing of any other projects. Even the city council couldn't stomach only being able to do one project in the next 100 years.

Third cancellation's the charm? (3, Informative)

flamingweasel (191775) | about 9 years ago | (#13644767)

For those not following along at home, this is at least the third time this has happened (if I'm remembering correctly). The city keeps passing ballot measures, and the city council keeps dissolving the project a year or two later. You'd think, after the third ballot passed, that the city council would understand that this is very much the will of the people. I guess not.

Reading the article, it sounds like more of the same old "it can't possible work here" syndrome that infects every Seattle public work. I've been out of Seattle for a couple years -- has the light rail laid one section of track, yet? Both the monorail and the light rail projects for the region have been in development hell for at least 10 years, with seemingly no progress made. The excuse I remember hearing most often was that the Puget sound region was so different from anywhere else in the world that light rail / monorail works.

Still around? (1)

dvdave (175509) | about 9 years ago | (#13644768)

I thought they killed this idea back in Singles [] . Damn you Cameron Crowe!

Monorail means: (0, Redundant)

jonv (2423) | about 9 years ago | (#13644787)

Mono = One
Rail = Rail

Most ill-conceived project, ever (5, Interesting)

Tomy (34647) | about 9 years ago | (#13644799)

As one of the (angry) tax payers funding this project, I'd really like to see some heads roll over this one. We're not getting any of our money back (I pay almost $400 a year for this), and we will continue to have to pay for an additional two years until they sell off the 36 properties they aquired through iminent domain (which should go back to the original owners if the project is scrapped).

The project is complete lunacy since the stations have no provision for parking/park and ride, and the route follows an existing bus line and would not be any faster than that bus line. And it would cost more per ride.

I could support it if they actually tried something innovative, like the Skyweb Express [] , but as the project stands, it's just a solution looking for a problem.

I am part of the small minority of Seattlites whose home and work are in walking distance of the originally proposed line, and I can't see any reason to choose it, since it would cost me more to ride it than driving to work and paying for parking.

frist 4so7 (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13644810)

Scrapped? The article didn't say that. (2, Informative)

l0ungeb0y (442022) | about 9 years ago | (#13644850)

The first sentence of the article:
The Seattle Monorail Project board has just approved a Nov. 8 ballot measure to shorten the proposed line, and run it from the Alaska Junction in West Seattle to West Dravus Street in Interbay.

Another day another story posted with a summary that can only be described as completely wrong.

Reading the summary did make me laugh though, when I left Seattle for a real city (SF) back in 2001, the Monorail project had already been started up and construction had commenced. So if they pull out now, they could very well end up having a several hundred million dollar infrastructure sitting there to rot -- and rotting quite promenently as they situated it through very busy streets.

But it might be possible that by shortening the scope of work, the contractors would pull out. And then the Monorail project could very well be as good as dead.

Personally, while I thought the monorail project was cool, I never really understood why the hell they needed it. They already have a top-notch bus system and the idea of extending the 1962 Worlds Fair Monorail [] into a city wide service seems rather superflous.

Public support (1)

Patik (584959) | about 9 years ago | (#13644851)

People didn't like the World Trade Center towers either, nor did was the office space occupied for some time after it's completion. There are tons of public works projects that people start out not liking (most likely because of the initial cost, which comes from their taxes) but end up being very useful and well-liked.

Mass transit (1)

Crixus (97721) | about 9 years ago | (#13644878)

I've been on that monorail. It's cool.

Considering that Seattle has recently beat out Los Angeles for worst traffic congestion, you'd think they'd be more into mass transit.

Granted, monorails cost more money, but if that's too expensive do a conventional two-rail system.

A monorail that works (1)

The Ape With No Name (213531) | about 9 years ago | (#13644900)

AirTrain [] . G.A.P (2/3) 6 minutes to Atlantic Terminal (2 bucks). LIRR to Jamaica Station 19 minutes (3.50). AirTrain monorail to Terminal 10 minutes ( 5 bucks). $10.50. 35-40 minutes. Comparison: Town Car to JFK from Prospect Heights ($35 - $40) with no guarantee that it will be anything less than 35 minutes.

The monorail is a good idea for custom destinations like an airport where you have to build above ground level to connect to other public trans. Any other use seems to be nothing more that gee-whiz novelty stuff.

they dont make money... (1)

doormat (63648) | about 9 years ago | (#13644906)

The Las Vegas monorail is far behind its revenue goals. They need something like 40,000 passangers/day to break even. They're getting about 30,000 or so. Plus when they started, they pulled some funny business and have a "charity" tax status.

Why Seattle Needed the Monorail (5, Interesting)

elister (898073) | about 9 years ago | (#13644907)

Like some cities on the West Coast, Seattle has hills and light rail doesnt work very well with hills. Light rail construction (which is not elevated) has been ongoing for years now, but most of the costs associated with it have to do with tunneling. Its a soft soil, so when you hit bodies of water, you have have to dig even deeper, which costs more money and takes longer to tunnel.

With Monorail, all you need to do is clear a path. Buy out business along the green line, no tunneling is involed. Plus im told that monorail can be converted to handle a maglev type of transportation. It was originally supposed to cost under 2 billion, but people didnt like the tax and decided to register their cars outside of KingCounty. This caused a severe drop in revene and prompted the monorail execs to resort to drastic funding (junk bonds, high intrest loans, etc) to the point where its going to cost over 10 billion.

We need the monorail (or some form of elevated transportation) because there isnt enough room to build more highways. The sucess of the monorail would have helped to extend it to other areas of King County such as Redmond or Tacoma. I used to temp at Microsoft, and getting to Redmond from Seattle wasnt really a problem, but getting home sure was a nightmare. Any minor problem, and your going to see backups.

King County citizens voted in favor for the monorail 5 times! And yet, its never gonna be built. Its beyond surreal.

User view on the Seattle transit system (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13644916)

I moved to Seattle a year ago from California. I was positively impressed by the bus transit system free in the downtown area. There is this tunnel thing that let me go from home to work in 5 minutes cutting all the touristic area and traffic. Neat. There is also this street car you can take from Pier 71 to the international district that goes by the waterfront. If you live on that path, it's like being a tourist everytime you commute to work. Swell. Now comes Fall 2005. They just shut down the tunnel to be retrofitted for 2 YEARS! WTF! Are they hiring part timers to do the job and working French hours on that project? I reregistered my car and payed a premium of +$430 for the monorail (3% of the deprecated value of the vehicule). Ouch! This tax was explained to me to be started to pay for the monorail project. My first reaction was : the rail must be made of platinum for that price. Then I became aware fo the monorail project and the big scam. 14 miles of line for $11B. A line that goes from two places that don't really require this common transportation (North-South). While the east bay and cheaper housing in the SE (Renton area) still has a huge problem at rush hour. So now they cancelled the monorail and they are keeping the tax to pay for free downtown bus access which is reduced to minimum thanks the the lightrail retrofit. The Seattle Art museum is building an extension near to the Street car depot and almost killed the Street car. So much for a museum that goes and remove folkore from the city. Thanks god lots of supporters of the street car gave donations to save it. But this is going to be shutdown until the museum is done building their sculture crap art park and they found out what to do with the depot. Probably a year or two. On top of this, add up that the monorail is stopping short of 900 yards from the airport. So you will need to lug your suitcases in a shuttle for that distance. WTF. Seattle had 2 architects who designed the city one for the north side, the other for the south. There is a building downtown that shows the disconnection between the two dudes. The building is at the corner of 5th and Stewart and it has a triangular facade. It looks to me coming from Europe that the whole USA have a triangular facade when it comes to common transportation.

Another one bites the dust... (1)

Jeian (409916) | about 9 years ago | (#13644922)

I wonder if RTA will go the same way.
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