CPT Is Not A Monorail

Post by Steven Dale

When I talk to anyone under the age of 35 about Cable-Propelled Transit (CPT) something almost always occurs:

Without prompting, my partner in conversation will typically invoke the near-legendary Monorail musical number in The Simpsons episode “Marge vs. The Monorail.” For those who’ve never seen it, the story turns around a schemingly tuneful huckster bent on selling the town of Springfield a monorail despite their better instincts:

It’s a classic episode and the analogy is apt. After all, advancing the idea of ski-lifts as transit appears to be hucksterism at its best.

The difference, of course, is that Cable-Propelled Transit is a demonstrable success and monorails aren’t. Monorails are rare in the world and are so prohibitively complex and expensive they tend to become technological albatrosses. Ask anyone in Seattle.

You may think otherwise, but selling monorails is hucksterism. Advocating for cable isn’t.

So for those of you out there biting at the chomp to make the comparison, let me say this: I’m a terrible singer, I don’t earn a commission on any cable technology sales, I don’t know Leonard Nimoy, and I’ve never worn a bow tie in my life.

So there.


Far Left: Not Me.

(Far Left) Not Me.

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  1. Whoa back Nellie! Don't attack potential Allies! A parody on a Simpson's Episode does not make anyone an expert on Monorails. "The difference, of course, is that Cable-Propelled Transit is a demonstrable success and monorails aren’t." The Seatle Monorail was a political failure, not a technological failure. It is still running: http://www.seattlemonorail.com/ The failure was when politics got in the way of expanding the system. There are many examples of successful Monorails. Take a look at the Monorail Society and educate yourself before you spout off: http://www.monorails.org/ Straddle vs. Suspended: http://www.monorails.org/tMspages/TPindex.html I would propose a SAFAGE type Monorail, like those used in Japan, for Toronto. http://www.monorails.org/tMspages/Shonan.html http://www.monorails.org/tMspages/Chiba.html Or, alternately the Aerobus which shares many characteristics with the Gondonla: http://www.aerobus.com/home.html As for routing, I agree that using the ravines is ideal for this type of transit. Down the Don Valley, across the Waterfront and up the Humber and Black Creek ravines. This would cover the Don Mills LRT, the Downtown Relief Line and the Jane LRT and echo the Yonge/University/Spadina Line by forming another "U" shaped transit line. The Eglinton LRT could be routed along the Belt Line and The Finch West along the Hydro ROW. Lastly, since we're talking Pie in the Sky, so to speak, why not coordinate with the Toronto Viaduct for the downtown portion?: http://www.toviaduct.com/Home.html Regards, Ron Wm. Hurlbut
  2. I'm totally open to whatever works and is cost-effective. My issue with monorails is that they have proven to be one of the most expensive transit technologies over time. We don't need high-capacity, high-cost systems that take forever to implement. We need systems that serve the actual needs we have at a price we can afford. Most rail systems never actually meet their forecasted ridership. Why then should we build an expensive system that carries more than we need? I've reviewed the website you provided and I'm afraid the systems mentioned seem a little "cherry-picked." No mention of Seattle (hugely expensive) and almost all of the systems mentioned are quite old. That doesn't mean I'm against it entirely. One of my favourite transit lines in the world is the Wuppertal monorail in Germany. That's a fantastic system and charming to boot! As for the Aerobus . . . I know about that system. I wrote about the Aerobus here. Again, though, I believe that no city wants to be first, every city wants to be second. The Aerobus has virtually no track record in urban environments and were it a superior technology (which it may be, I don't know) it would have a difficult time penetrating the urban market. There is a political reality that needs to be acknowledged and one of cable's advantages is that it has been successfully demonstrated and installed around the world. Again: Show me the data, send me research that's sound, complete and most importantly logical, and I'll be behind you 100%. I'd like people to understand that I'm not partisan, I just want the best transit for the cities of the world at the best price. Right now, I happen to feel that the research shows that technology to be cable. Will that change? Sure, possibly, I don't know. I'm not a fortune teller. But right now, cable's the dark horse.
  3. Hi Steven, Quote: I’ve reviewed the website you provided and I’m afraid the systems mentioned seem a little “cherry-picked.” No mention of Seattle (hugely expensive) and almost all of the systems mentioned are quite old. That doesn’t mean I’m against it entirely. One of my favourite transit lines in the world is the Wuppertal monorail in Germany. That’s a fantastic system and charming to boot! Reply: I "Cherry Picked" the Suspended Type of monorail as being better suited to Toronto. Rather than the Supported type that is in Seatle, Las Vagas etc... I showed you a couple of pages from a much larger Website. Look at "Why Monorail?": http://www.monorails.org/tMspages/Why.html Explore the Monorail Society's Website and you will find information about Seatle and Wuppertal among others. As for the Aerobus... What you show on Sky-RidingBus: http://gondolaproject.com/2009/11/11/sky-riding-bus/ And again with the cartoon: http://gondolaproject.com/2010/01/05/the-gondola-idea-has-potential/ Are gross Caricatures! Go back to the Aerobus Webpage and take another look around: http://www.aerobus.com/home.html http://www.aerobus.com/advantages.html http://www.aerobus.com/features.html http://www.aerobus.com/safety.html This is Cable Suspended Transportation. Just not Cable Propelled. You are "Cherry-Picking" suspended Gondolas as the better choice for Toronto, as opposed to Cable Cars on Rails, running in the streets. We both agree that Suspended and Elevated are better than Ground level, or Underground. So, I repeat: Whoa back Nellie! Don’t attack potential Allies! A parody on a Simpson’s Episode does not make anyone an expert on Monorails. Don't base your opinions on Caricaturizations.
  4. I don't actually agree that suspended and elevated are better than ground level. I believe that a transit configuration should respond to its specific environment. I don't like the idea of large elevated guideways from an urban design perspective. I think there are ways to implement cable in its own dedicated right of way at street level and still maintain automation and safety levels. A gondola system over the Don Valley, however, makes beautiful sense. I try really hard not to apply cable universally. One of the great things about the technology is its flexibility and adaptability therefore I'd never go so far as to say that suspended and elevated are better. As for monorails, maybe we agree to disagree. I've yet to see any compelling numbers or research to suggest that monorails are a suitable alternative, but maybe I've missed them. As for the aerobus, as I said before, I don't know. Maybe it's the greatest form of cable transit there is, but it has almost no track record after 50 years of existence and I've yet to see to see a single piece of research discussing it. If you have that research, I'd love to see it.
  5. Quote: I don’t actually agree that suspended and elevated are better than ground level. I'll repeat this statement here: A FULLY DEDICATED RIGHT-OF-WAY [ROW] CAN NOT be achieved AT GROUND LEVEL within the city of Toronto. When you have to build bridges for over/under passes, create embankments, cutting and filling, you might as well create a Subway. Tunnelling for Subways is prohibitively expensive and Elevated LRT’s and Subways are unsightly and expensive too. The most affordable and attractive FULLY DEDICATED ROW is elevated Monorail and/or Cable-Gondola. The only way to implement Automation is through a FULLY DEDICATED ROW. No one in this city will accept San Francisco type cable cars as an alternative to LRT/Street Cars. They might consider elevated/suspended Monorail and/or Cable-Gondola as an alternative to LRT/Street Cars.
  6. Again, I agree with you, Ron. My perspective is that the technology could be configured such that it is in a dedicated right of way at street level until the intersections, at which point the right-of-way would shift to above or below street level, whichever is more desirable from an urban design perspective. This way, the vehicles are always in a fully dedicated right of way which would allow for full automation.
  7. Hi Steven, I need to nail you down and sharpen your focus. Specifically for the City of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Which is it: Bottom-supported Or Aerial ???? You are advocating Cable Propulsion. That's a given... You appear to be advocating Aerial. Hence the name "Gondola Project".... Yet, when you discuss Private Right of Way, you talk about the vehicles travelling at ground level along a roadway and then passing over or tunneling under intersections. That sounds more like Bottom-supported. I think that I was clear when I presented myself as a proponent for Monorails in general and Aerial/Suspended specifically. The SAFAGE type Monorail, like those used in Japan and Germany, for Toronto. http://www.monorails.org/tMspages/Shonan.html http://www.monorails.org/tMspages/Chiba.html http://www.h-bahn.info/en/index.php Or, alternately the Aerobus which shares some characteristics with the Gondonla: http://www.aerobus.com/home.html
  8. Ron, You're not going to "nail me down" to either or. I don't believe that's necessary or appropriate. I am a proponent of Cable Propelled Transit in all its forms in locations that make logical sense. That means both bottom and top supported systems. Just because I call it The Gondola Project, doesn't mean I don't believe in bottom supported. In fact, if you type in www.cablecarproject.com, you'll also be brought to this site.
  9. Hi Steven, This is the City of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Toronto Star article that drew me to your website: http://gondolaproject.com/2009/12/31/thanks/ And the editorial cartoon that it spawned: http://gondolaproject.com/2010/01/05/the-gondola-idea-has-potential/ Imply that Gondolas are an alternative to the TransitCity LRT's. So, I'm trying to nail you down to how you envision Cable Propelled Transit in THIS city. Cable Cars instead of Electric LRT's? Or Aerial Trams / Gondolas as illustrated in that article. Because Cable Cars don't hold any Awe or Gadget Value for me: http://gondolaproject.com/2009/12/24/awe-is-good-2/ http://gondolaproject.com/2010/01/08/gadget-value/ Here in Toronto, Ontario, Canada public transit has been starved for at least the last 30 years. The cross town Eglinton Subway broke ground and then got moth-balled. The Sheppard line was truncated to the point of uselessness. And the Scarborough RT is a white elephant that the government forced on us. Now, there is a big plan and some major $$$$ for an LRT network called "Transit City": http://www3.ttc.ca/About_the_TTC/Projects_and_initiatives/Transit_city/index.jsp The LRT's will be an improvement over the buses, but they're not the best solution for a city that is settling for LRT's because the Subways that we need, we can't afford. Instead of settling for LRT's [Electric or Cable Powered]... Let's strive for a rapid transit alternative that is affordable and had a fully private and dedicated Right of Way. P.S. the URL http://www.cablecarproject.com/ gives me a "403 Forbidden" message.
  10. I think bottom-supported cable car technology would be an ideal option in the Scarborough RT corridor, and that's something I said in the Toronto Star article. In that situation a private right of way would exist. I also think gondola technology would be ideal in the Don Valley. Just because the image the Star chose to use was of gondolas does not mean I do not support the technology's use in different configurations. As for the www.cablecarproject.com, that's very odd. I will investigate the issue, thanks for bringing it to my attention
  11. Hi Steven, Well, there's your problem.... Trying to introduce a new technology to a very conservative city. But instead of standardizing and concentrating on a single modality, you want to convert the whole city to cable propulsion in a way that won't be standardized. A cable car here and a gondola there with a funicular thrown in somewhere else for good measure... I think that you need to focus on something more specific as it applies to this city. The Scarborough RT was originally planned and built as a Streetcar type LRT. The provincial government forced us into using Linear Induction Motor [LIM] propulsion. Due to climate issues and the prototypical application of the LIM in Scarborough there have been problems and breakdowns. The exact same technology was then sold to Vancouver for their skytrain and to a couple of other cities that have had more success with LIM, but for Toronto, it has been a white elephant. After that experience, I don't think that any Torontonian is interested in non-conventional Propulsion. The Scarborough RT is the last place anyone would consider another experiment.
  12. You're entitled to your opinion, Ron, and it's one I don't share. I'm not saying one here, another there (and I've certainly never suggested a Funicular in Toronto, where would it go, after all?), and I am certainly not suggesting that the entire city switch to cable. Let me repeat that: I am not suggesting that we convert the whole city to cable propulsion. Please stop putting words in my mouth. I've suggested only two Toronto-specific corridors: A Don Valley corridor and a Scarborough RT corridor. I'd also like to point out that The Gondola Project is not simply a Toronto-specific site. We've had a lot of support and attention from around the English-speaking world. The beauty of cable is it's flexibility and its multi-modality. Cable is used in many different places in many different ways . . . to deny that is to deny what makes cable work.
  13. Alright, that clarifies it for me.