July 16, 2005
Monorail Fur is FlyingThree years ago the residents of Seattle vote to tax themselves to pay for a 14-mile monorail line. Actually this was the fourth (I think) vote on the subject. It initially started as basically a joke proposal that was so ridiculous that nobody bothered to mount a formal opposition, and much to everyone's surprise it passed. Then various plans were voted on, and finally it was approved by fewer than 1000 votes, and things got underway. Except the financing plan fell through and the executive director just quit; the Seattle Weekly summarizes the whole sordid mess.
Leaving aside the folly of a city trying to build public transit with no state or federal help, monorails are actually cheaper to build than other public transit systems because there is little or no right-of-way to acquire. But they have a problem in that they uglify the airspace. The most amusing of the current foofaraws is between competing visions of the monorail. Cascadia Monorail, the company that is contracted to build the thing, put out a press release for its renderings; meanwhile the Downtown Seattle Association has competing renderings. The Cascadia images are supposed to show how light and fluffy the monorail will be and the Downtown Seattle ones are supposed to show how dark and oppressive it will be, but trying to tell the difference between the 2nd avenue visions of Cascadia (light/fluffy) and DSA (dark/oppressive) is like doing one of those "Hocus Focus" spot-the-six-differences puzzles in the paper (hint: it's the guardrail for the pedestrian walkway). Meanwhile, an organization called Team Monorail has decided--possibly for amusement value, but more likely in a serious attempt to wrest the contract away from Cascadia--to come out with their own vision for the monorail, which would presumably be even lighter, fluffier, and cheaper than Cascadia's.
Stay tuned to see how this all turns out, or you can rent the Simpsons episode if you can't wait.
Posted by AdamBa at July 16, 2005 08:37 PM
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Just wanted to post this link, so I don't forget it, to a CNN article entitled "Seattle's monorail loses its shine".
Posted by: Adam Barr at August 5, 2005 08:56 AM