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Vegas: Monorails v. Gridlock 478

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the ring-came-off-my-pudding-can dept.
TimeTrip writes "Vegas seems to be taking a little cue from Disney. 'Las Vegas, which never stops thinking big, has just embarked on its most ambitious, costly attempt to solve a problem that once seemed impossible to have in this sprawling desert valley: gridlock. It is building the nation's largest monorail system.'" Or maybe they'll be taking their cue from Lyle Lanly. Frankly this sounds more like a Shelbyville idea.
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Vegas: Monorails v. Gridlock

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  • Obligatory (Score:5, Funny)

    by teslatug (543527) on Tuesday April 23, 2002 @10:36PM (#3399042)
    The Monorail Song:
    Monorail 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 your 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! Monorail! Monorail! [big finish] Monorail! Homer: Mono... D'oh!
    • Ah yes, that episode had some classic quotes in it.

      Lyle Lanley: Mono means one and rail means rail, and so concludes our extensive three week course.

      TV Voice: Actual institute may not match photo

      Homer: Donuts, is there anything they can't do?

      I could go on......

    • by grytpype (53367)
      Scientist: Sorry, I shouldn't have stopped for that haircut.

      Marge: There's a man here and he wants to help you!
      Homer: Is it Batman?
      Marge: No, he's a scientist.
      Homer: Batman is a scientist.
  • Vegas Twist (Score:5, Insightful)

    by yintercept (517362) on Tuesday April 23, 2002 @10:37PM (#3399047) Homepage Journal
    Anyone who comes to work by bus, bike or commuter van at least four times a month is eligible to enter a weekly drawing that rewards 100 people with $100 each.

    I love the vegas twist on mass transit. Instead of throwing your dollar into a meter, you get to toss it into a one armed bandit. I can see the lines of blue haired ladies lining up for their chance to play a role of the bus.
  • by Cheetah86 (136854) on Tuesday April 23, 2002 @10:38PM (#3399050) Homepage
    Glass protected stations that protect people from walking on the track are not new. In London I remember going to an underground stop which had glass doors so you couldn't go on the track. It is a good idea to implement it in Las Vegas though.
    • Seattle, which has had a monorail since 68 to transport between the space needle and down town has a really cool enclosed track siding with little ramps that reach out to the sides of the cars once the train is in position. This is of course to keep the shivering tourists from plunging 50 feet to their deaths. They only have them at one of the two stops though. Back in the day when I was but a lad you would occasionally see the more daring (or stupid) teenagers jump out onto the rail and back at the down town (now enclosed) end of the line.

  • http://www.monorails.org/tMspages/Niles.html
  • by PhunkyOne (531072) on Tuesday April 23, 2002 @10:41PM (#3399070) Homepage
    It would be great if they extended it to the airport right away...this is one of my favorite features of paris or london. You don't have to mess around getting a taxi or bus into town. You grab your bag, catch the tube and away you go. This would be great for people who JUST want to gamble, and it seems there are many of those...catch the train and get to business, especially if there will be rail stations at major casinos

    Personally though all I can think about is the Monorail Simpsons Episode...Doh!

    • Schipol (Amsterdam) and Kastrup (Copenhagen) seem to have done this best that I've seen. Arlanda (Stockholm), Ventemoen/Gardemoen (Olso) have seen the importance and made special lines just to the airport. Often way faster than than taking a car, unless it's a cab or you're getting a lift. Get on the train from just about anywhere and you're set. This type of connectivity with the airport could really have helped out places like Detroit and L.A.

      The airport, casinos, and some of the major hotels would be obvious nodes for the rail network. For those fixated on increasing economic growth through 'security' measures, some of the airlines could offer check-in at some of the more prestigious hotels or conference centers. This would be an obvious attraction for tourists and would allow the airlines extra time to scan the bags and back up their 'profiling' with hard data.

      In Chicago, many rails came years before many of the buildings. I think there the rail companies did it the other way around and sold air rights to put buildings over the tracks. Monorail's a good option when you don't have the budget to bore tunnels or buy up surface real estate.

      What's the geology like there? Maybe they could hire Norwegians to bore tunnels. ;)
      (Subway / tube / underground sure, but how about "Casino Moria"?)

      • What's the geology like there?

        Caliche and other tough-as-nails crap that would be a royal PITA to punch holes through. Back when my parents lived here and they had a pool put in the backyard, lots of good-sized rocks also got pulled out of the ground. Up where I live now (in the northeast corner of town, up on Frenchman Mountain), one of the pools in this condo development was built shallower than planned because the builder hadn't done an adequate geological survey of the property (among many other problems, but that's drifting offtopic) and ran into caliche just two or three feet down.

  • no danger (Score:3, Funny)

    by Skizamaskidz (306343) on Tuesday April 23, 2002 @10:41PM (#3399074)
    I see no forseeable danger in this at all. Just keep a big letter 'M' on the side of the train for emergency braking, along with an oversized steel donut.
  • by Stephen VanDahm (88206) on Tuesday April 23, 2002 @10:41PM (#3399077) Homepage
    Let's get this out of the way early:

    SELECT *
    FROM smartass_remarks
    WHERE simpsons='t' AND
    topic='monorail'


    There.
  • by ackthpt (218170) on Tuesday April 23, 2002 @10:41PM (#3399078) Homepage Journal
    Las Vegas could start by having free hotel shuttles from the fscking airport!

    Am I right? Eh?!?! Ever been there, you know of what I say.

    Every fscking time I've been there I have to fork over ~$10 for a Bell taxi or something, which all smell like they last scrubbed inside with a dead cat! Seriously, every other major city I've been in the big hotels have shuttles, but not LV, I swear it's a labor thing of somesort or a major bribe has been paid.

    In either case, I would certainly like to see how well the monorail plan gets around to the airport.

    • Hmm.. thats pretty amazing, when I was at the Las Vegas Airport (id say around.. 1998) there was a shuttle for me when I was saying in a motel. The motel was across the strip with the airport in between the 2, so it was a pretty cheap motel and I had a shuttle.

      I also had to wait for about 15min while it got there, and saw about 100 other shuttles.
  • by phillymjs (234426) <slashdot@NOspam.stango.org> on Tuesday April 23, 2002 @10:47PM (#3399102) Homepage Journal
    If Vegas gets a monorail, will we have HBO's "Monorail Confessions" to look forward to?

    ~Philly
  • by Anonymous Coward
    It is good to see Las Vegas actually pour some concrete. Seattle (unlike the article implies) already passed a measure to extend by up to 40 miles the mono-rail, passed taxes (well, rammed them down the throats of the sensible people that knew they'd never see service under the planned terms) for a light rail system, and has managed to spend all the allocated money without breaking ground. (they did buy the trains already, and have taken deliver on some, but not facilities to actually even house them, let alone track to run them on.) And, to make matters worse, several of the officials have admitted they grossly underestimated the costs because the voters would never have passed it with legitmate figures. So Vegas gets it right and Seattle bites.
    • Washington seems to have a big problem with money. I live in Idaho myself, but work in Washington, so I hear about things here and there. Probably the most interesting fumble, is this big parking garage in Spokane Washington, that no one wants to seem to pay for. I believe some of the money was put up front by the city, but they arne't making it back or something.

      I also hear that they want to use people's property taxes to help pay for the crappy roads there, because they had used the Gas Taxes for something else, or because they are trying to find the cheapest contractor to pave the roads with gravel, that gets all messed up when the winter hits here, and all the water gets under the roads, freezes, and makes potholes.

      Its quite a mess, im just glad I dont live there..
    • Meanwhile, Portland Oregon, to the south, with our "repressive" intensive city planning, urban boundary, land-use planning measures and all that, manages to build light-rail segment after segment more or less on budget, more or less on time, and with ridership above estimates.

      Clearly we're a bunch of gawddamned Godless commies compared to the good, honest, business-uber-alles people of Seattle, aren't we?
      • > Clearly we're a bunch of gawddamned Godless commies compared
        > to the good, honest, business-uber-alles people of Seattle, aren't we?

        Clearly. :)

        You may have better mass transit in Portland than people in Seattle, but you're still stuck living in Portland.

        *grin*
  • Links (Score:5, Informative)

    by axlrosen (88070) on Tuesday April 23, 2002 @10:48PM (#3399104) Homepage
    A few cool mockups, and some more detailed maps.

    http://www.monorails.org/tMspages/LasVegas.html [monorails.org]
    http://www.lvnvmonorail.com/ [lvnvmonorail.com]
  • Quimby: And now, I'd like to turn things over to our Grand Marshall,
    Mr. Leonard Nimoy.
    Nimoy: I'd say this vessel could do at least Warp Five.
    [appreciative laughter from the crowd]
    Quimby: And let me say, ``May the Force Be With You!''
    Nimoy: [annoyed] Do you even know who I am?
    Quimby: [indignant] I think I do. Weren't you one of the Little Rascals?
  • by jerryasher (151512) on Tuesday April 23, 2002 @10:53PM (#3399121)
    Here's a page (framed, mozilla unfriendly, slow jsp) [bombardier.com]
    from the principal contractor, Bombardier.

    This is the largest of three monorails they are building (although they say 4 miles, not 8). What's cool is that two of the three are for systems to get around downtown, not just for a system to get you to the airport parking lot.

    Unfortunately, the careers page doesn't reveal any openings. Sigh, this is the sort of socially responsible project that so many aerospace companies were to turn to after the cold war ended.
    • Unfortunately, the careers page doesn't reveal any openings. Sigh, this is the sort of socially responsible project that so many aerospace companies were to turn to after the cold war ended.

      Actually, Bombardier has been building subways and light rail systems for quite some time now -- they just didn't jump into it after the fall of communism.
    • i was wondering how that name was familiar - now i remember the nyc subway trains are built by them.

      By the way the aerospace companies probably wont turn to this kind of work, because cities cannot afford the fantastic overpayments that the fed govt gives them. they actually have to show a working model in return for their fees which may be a bit dissapointing for companies that are used to making missile defense systems.

    • Another interesting link...

      Here's an image [monorails.org] of a Bombardier engineer giving a similar monorail a quick test run. Note the prototype's innovative energy-efficient air conditioning. The prototype doesn't have quite as much seating capacity as they expect in the final vehicle, but you get the general idea.

    • Sigh, this is the sort of socially responsible project that so many aerospace companies were to turn to after the cold war ended.

      Bombardier is the family name of the company founder, it has nothing to do with bombs. The company started in the snowmobile (aka 'skidoo') business and later forked out into other forms of ground transportation. They only got into the aerospace industry when the aquired Canadair, in the mid 80's.

      See their company history section [bombardier.com]

  • There are plenty of reasons to encourage this sort of thing, especially when you consider the benefits from it. I am not even talking about the envrionmental benefits either. The real motivator for this should be Self Intrest. Cars are simply too expensive to be worth it.

    You pay for the Car, gas, parking, insurance, and maintenence. If your able to take advantage of a decent mass transit system, you will at most need to pay for the access pass. The costs of such passes are always cheaper then the costs of using and maintaining a vehicle.

    The money you save as a result of using Mass Transit can be redirected to other, more fun costs. Like Videogames, new computer gear, and other electronic goodies.

    END COMMUNICATION

    • You pay for the Car, gas, parking, insurance, and maintenence. If your able to take advantage of a decent mass transit system, you will at most need to pay for the access pass. The costs of such passes are always cheaper then the costs of using and maintaining a vehicle.

      Cheaper because, at least around here, they're massively subsidized. I'm one of those who wished public transportation was viable, but it simply isn't for a lot of people. I far too often need to go somewhere when nothing's running but taxis (which are hideously expensive here). I need some way of bringing $200 of groceries home, which isn't going to happen on any public conveyance I've seen. There are also issues of efficiency. I have a tightly packed day already. I don't have the time to wait around or walk from the nearest stop. Given that, having a car is necessary for me. Having already incurred the expense, it's always cheaper and more convenient, for any given trip, to use it.


      Public transportation will only be successful for people like me when it's on demand between any two points I choose, can carry lots of stuff when I need it, lots of people when I need it, and *still* be cheaper than owning a car. Good luck.

  • I was just in Vegas a few weeks ago. The monorail is in various states of completion along its route, but it is very impressive. I was initially confused, as some places looked as though they were already operational; alas, there was only the track. Other places just barely had formwork in place, not even the concrete poured yet. But the really interesting thing is that the monorail seems to be "integrated" into a few of the casinos along its route, passing under/over/through some of the casino eye-candy.

    From a purely selfish point of view, it makes a lot of sense for the casinos to support the project. It took 30 minutes to drive the length of the Strip during rush hour... at 3am it was closer to 5 minutes, even including a few red lights. Now, casinos really don't want you leaving, but most realize that half the people in Vegas aren't there to gamble -- but they spend money anyway, be it in the buffet line or in the themed casino shopping malls. Allowing all those mobile customers to more easily patronize your establishments makes a lot of sense.

    But the best thing Las Vegas could do would be to extend the line to McCarran Airport. It's not that I minded the $5 I paid for a van ride to my hotel, it's the hour I waited for said van and the additional 30 minute ride down the Strip. A monorail would solve that problem very nicely. It would also be a natural extension of the "light-rail" line that shuttles passengers between the old and new terminal buildings within the airport. (As an architectural aside, the new terminal building is a very nice example of "high-tech" design. The cable-truss window walls [photovault.com] are especially beautiful to behold...)

  • I know that Vegas isn't really for geeks, so I figured that I'll mention that Las Vegas already has a small monorail. It goes between MGM and Bally's, and every time that I have used it it is *packed*. Not just full, but packed, and you often have to wait for 2 trips to get on. It's a *great* idea. I'll definately use it when it's done. It's hot as fuck there in the summer (120), and it's a long fucking walk between even the casinos that are close together. I'm young and healthy, and during the summer, I have trouble walking from say, Bellagio to New York, New York. I can only imagine that older people will love it. I know that I'll use it.
  • by grinwell (138078)
    Vegas should just skip the monorail phase and go straight to transporters.

    Or Segways [segway.com] . Close the strip to cars and fill the city with Segways. It'd be the perfect commercial for both the city and the Segway.

    Or Trebuchets [trebuchet.com] . Boy, I'm full of helpful ideas tonight!
  • by km790816 (78280) <wqhq3gx02@sne[ ]mail.com ['ake' in gap]> on Tuesday April 23, 2002 @11:07PM (#3399174)
    The Seattle Monorail Project [elevated.org] aims to put a monorail in downtown Seattle. It's set to be put to a vote in November, I think.

    Seattle suffers from the same problem: too many damn cars. With the 2nd worst rush hour traffic in the US (behind LA) I hope they can pull it off. There have been fights with light rail folks, but I think monorail is a much better option. Keep it above grade so there is little disruption of traffic. Many claim that monorail is Mickey Mouse transit. (no thanks to certain Simpson's parodies). Keep in mind that millions use monorail daily for transportation in Japan. When the people from Seattle went over to look at Japan's system they were blown away by its efficiency and capacity. After spending time abroad, I've become very disappointed with the mass transit systems in the US (or lack there of).

    We love our cars way too much.
    • Well, you're right about falling in love with mass transit when travelling abroad, but other than Japan, who has gone the monorail route?

      Steel-on-steel (dual rail) is more efficient and doesn't require any additional pylon space on the ground if it is elevated. Seattle's existing monorail cars are just circa-1960s subway cars (it was built in the 60s, do you expect circa-2000 subway cars?)

      Still ... anything's better than driving a car in Seattle. The Sounder's a good idea, pity your regional governments are far behind in schedule and embarrassingly over budget (perhaps a true regional government like our Metro down in Portland would help?) You've got a brand-new commuter rail system that has standing room only boarding during morning and evening rush hours and a third set of trains that are late. Track projects that are late. Etc.

      This, actually, is probably one of the appeals of monorail. New infrastructure needs to be built, which means you can't be held hostage as some might argue BNSF does to the Sounder project.
    • Seattle *has* voted on this, twice, recently. We'll keep voting for it, and the politicos will continue to ignore us, $pending ca$h on ground-based "light rail" that will snarl traffic even worse than it is now. Grrrr.

      I really wish Vegas luck. Maybe once theirs is running, we can get the politicians who are willing to do what the people keep telling them - get it the h*ll off the streets!
    • by Gorimek (61128) on Wednesday April 24, 2002 @02:53AM (#3399742) Homepage
      A lot of Americans go abroad on vacation and get blown away by how well mass transit works. Let me tell you why that is not a good way to evaluate it.

      A typical European major city is built around a more or less ancient center, where all roads and transit system originate, with important extensions to the airport and rail stations. As I hope you can see, the mass transit system is working at it's very best for the typical travel patterns of a tourist, going between the main transit centers and all the tourist attractions in the center.

      Now, if you were to live in a regular home and commute to a regular job in that same city, things would be very different. You'd be going from one suburb to another, probably having to change train or bus at the center. It would take at least twice as long as going by car, quite likely more. You could and would probably make arrangements so you lived where mass transit was favorable for your commute, but whenever you were going to some friend or some other random place, you'd have quite a logistical task on your hands.

      And that's in a city that's always had it's transportation system built for mass transit. In an american city, built from the ground up for cars, it would work quite a bit worse.

      I think I know since I moved to San Francisco from Stockholm 7 years ago. And while Stockholm has a quite decent mass transit system, and SF traffic is painfully congested, going by car here just can't compare to going by mass transit there. It's one of my bigger reasons for not moving back.
      • by HiThere (15173) <charleshixsn&earthlink,net> on Wednesday April 24, 2002 @11:28AM (#3401488)
        Mass transit always has it's problems. But mass transit is the only transportation available for some portions of the population: The elderly, the young, the handicapped, the poor. (And this patron base is some of it's problems.)

        Probably the biggest of mass transit's problems is that there is already so much invested in infrastructure that's optimised for cars, that it's nearly impossible to compete. This even extends to on-going maintenance, as maintenance for the car/truck infrastructure is generally not considered as part of the cost, where in transit it gets included at the time of ticket purchase.

        Both sides always have heavy hidden subsidies, and supporters of each side always point out that the other side is subsidized. But the only part of the payment that is counted for the car is the part included in the cost of the gas, where for transit you are reminded each time you ride.

        Add to this that mass transit inherently takes longer. With a car, you can assume that it is immediately available at need, and that you will go to your destination directly via the most direct route. With transit you must get to the stop before the scheduled time. Wait. Get on. Pay. Travel an indirect route (which translates into more time delay). Walk from the destination stop to the true destination.

        This assumes that the car will be able to park. But even counting that, the car is almost guaranteed to be faster. Also, during the trip the driver has his attention engaged, so is less likely to be bored. And doesn't need to associate with strangers of unknown disposition.

        It's not really surprising that people prefer cars. At all. But the social costs of cars are much higher than those of mass transit. And the energy efficiency is much lower. So people keep trying to come up with some way that will work. Areas that have strong transportation corridors have more success than those that don't, for the reasons that you indicated. Thus in San Francisco, the Bay, and the congestion that the bridges causes during the commute have combined to make BART (and before that AC Transit and the Key System) reasonably successful. But the real thing that makes it successful is that San Francisco has essentially no parking. There are literally more cars in San Francisco than there are parking spaces. And that's at night.

        And even with those advantages, BART has troubles. The basic problem is that which one should expect from a monopoly: It's relatively unresponsive to the patrons. Escalators are frequently down for months while being repaired, e.g. It's not that the people don't try to do their job. It's just that when they evaluate the relative costs and rewards for any particular action, the costs of upsetting patrons are considered less important than something else (e.g., finishing that report that the head office wants to send to the federal government). In their position, it's a quite reasonable assessment. But it does lead to patrons that are ... unhappy. Which eventually has repercussions (they find an alternate form of transportation. But eventually is delayed long enough that it's quite hard to determine the connection between the action and the result.

        E.g.: AC Transit looses money when it runs busses late at night, as there are few patrons. So it cuts late service. This means that people who need to depend on transportation in the late hours find some other way to travel. Usually this means that they get a car, pay insurance, etc. Now that all of these costs are sunk, they frequently decide that they don't need AC during the day either. So these riders are lost. But this doesn't happen immediately. Now the next time a bond for transit vote comes up, will these peopel vote for it? Not likely! They will likely be quite angry. So the budget shrinks. And shrinks more, since the local funds can no longer be used to meet "matching funds" programs from the feds. So the service gets worse. To improve things, they reorganize the routes. This means that for some people, lines that had been marginally acceptable are now unacceptable. So they switch away.

        Do people ever switch back? Well, if their car is in the shop, they may try the bus. But it is (as mentioned above) almost guaranteed to be more inconvenient than their car. So they don't stay.

        Who uses transit? People who don't have cars, for one reason or another (I don't drive). People who can't afford to own a car. People who are headed for an area where you really can't park. Any others? Probably, as this is just off the top of my head. Some commuters find transit as convenient as sitting parked on the freeway. It depends on where they live, where the transit lines are, and where they are headed. (But these are people who can easily be lost if transit lines shift -- as they do.)

        I don't see a general answer. But in the special case of Los Vegas ... it might be possible to design a monorail that would suit their needs quite well. Stops inside the top floors of hotels? And at the airport, the bus station, and the railroad station. Special provision for baggage transfer? Commuters may not be their target market.
      • Thats funny, I live in Washington DC, which, last time i checked was within the United States. The metro in DC rocks. I can get wherever i want to go without a car. In fact I spent probably 30 bucks on gas in the last year.
  • I still find it curious that the west really doesn't depend on public transportation.

    I live in Boston, and there is no doubt in my mind that today, tomorrow, and next week I'll be taking the train to work. It's about 10x cheaper than driving & parking in the city. And lots easier too.

    I drive into work about once a month. That's plenty.

    But I guess each to his own. If you love to be seen in your car, well, then I guess then that settles the issue!
  • Not only is this an idea used by Disney, the trains themselves are Disney Engineering Mk.IV. class monorails. They were designed and built by Disney.

    Disney replaced the Mk.IVs with Bombardier built Mk.VIs (The Mk.Vs are at DisneyLand). The new trains are inferior according to the drivers, but the trains had been aquired already. They are, in all fairness, more roomy to the passengers. Disney then sold the old Mk.IVs, still in perfect condition, to the city of Las Vegas.

    So, when you are riding on a train between hotels, you are most likely riding the same train you might have riden 10 years ago at Walt Disney World.
  • Monorails again.

    Sheesh. If monorails were really so good, they would be all over the place. But 200 years (okay, 198) years after Richard Trevithick [schoolnet.co.uk] invented the steam locomotive [google.com] (btw, the , birail systems are quite prevalent throughout the known universe [google.com]).

    Must be their inherent simplicity and stability, no? If you really look around [monorails.org], there aren't really much monorails...

  • the monorail is great; i recently spent almost an hour on the strip, moved maybe two car lengths, desperate to pee. it sucked.

    they need more lateral action off the strip, maybe with some cheep buses or something, so guys like me can get to the strip from our cheap hotels...
  • by Schlemphfer (556732) on Tuesday April 23, 2002 @11:32PM (#3399243) Homepage

    A bunch of posters here have wondered "why build such a thing?" Having just had the misfortune of visiting Vegas, let me say why the city is uniquely suited to benefit from a monorail.



    Like no other city, Las Vegas is made up a tremendously high percentage of people who visit just for a the weekend. Tens of thousands of people fly into Vegas every week, all of whom go directly to the casinos, where they sleep in the upstairs hotel rooms. Right now, they essentially have two viable choices: cab or rental car.



    Nobody wants to go through the hassle of figuring out a bus system just after flying into town. And walking that mile or so to the casinos, with luggage, in the dessert heat won't work either. A monorail dedicated to connect the airport with the strip is an incredible idea, as much as I may personally detest gambling.

    • Tens of thousands of people fly into Vegas every week, all of whom go directly to the casinos, where they sleep in the upstairs hotel rooms.

      It doesn't seem to me that these people are travelling around that much!
    • Vegas is also one of the fastest growing areas in the country. Much of the infrastructure has not kept pace, improvements are only now being finished that accomodate the level of traffic here, they will be swamped if the level of growth continues.

      For instance, I-15 (you can see it in the graphic) is the major North-South traffic artery through town, it currently has rougly 4 lanes in each direction in the area that parallels the monorail project and the strip casinos. I attended a presentation a few years back that estimated a need for over 10 lanes in each direction in less than 20 years. For some large metropolitan areas that is nothing, but for a backward gambling town that isn't so recently out of the mob era (some say we're still there with Oscar Goodman as mayor) that is quite an increase in traffic.

      Some more #s off the top of my head:
      35,000,000 visitors a year (6 million by car, the rest by air
      125,000 hotel rooms
      1,600 taxicabs

      Comdex is usually one of the largest events (this year's was under the shadow of the events of 9/11/01), with reported attendance of over 200,000, this fills up the city and allows the sleaziest dumps to charge over $200 a night. So we can get an extra 13% of our population into town over a week or a long weekend? We can use some help in the transit department.

    • i spent over 10 years of my life living in Vegas...

      i must say that most towns wouldnt be well suited to this type of project, there are just too many directions people travel in the typical city. But Las Vegas is very different, there is the "strip", almost all big casinos sit right on this street (Las Vegas Blvd). The traffic on this street is absolutely ridiculous, and it can take quite a while to get from one end of the strip to the other.

      This kind of project would probably be far less economical in the average town where traffic heads in many different directions, but Las Vegas is especially well suited for this project. I would guess that over 50% of the traffic in the town heads up and down a very specific corridor and that not only is this feasible in Vegas, it is one of the few places it could be a preffered solution
  • Too bad (Score:4, Informative)

    by j09824 (572485) on Tuesday April 23, 2002 @11:32PM (#3399244)
    Too bad they are thinking "big 1960's style public transportation". A monorail system like Personal Rapid Transit [cprt.org] would have been so much nicer. See also here [washington.edu].
    • That will never work in Vegas. Have you seen the crowds on the strip?. You need that monorail to be able to pick up large numbers of people. big style public transportation is exactly what is called for.
    • I suppose this is off-topic, but Personal Rapid Transit has some pretty serious social problems. Vandals and muggers like nothing better than privacy.

      The only technological solution I can see is remote monitoring combined with an override system that could let a security guard send any capsule straight to the police station. But constant monitoring of every capsule is pretty expensive.

  • One can only hope that this will be as good as the "People Mover". The monorail running through the Urban Blight Theme Park: Detroit.
  • RIP Phil (Score:5, Funny)

    by NiftyNews (537829) on Tuesday April 23, 2002 @11:39PM (#3399270) Homepage
    I miss Phil Hartman. Hit my karma if you need to, but I needed to say it.
  • Vegas: Monorails v. Gridlock

    "In the Red Corner, weighing in at 23.5 tons of 200mph, solar-powered fury, introducing the Challenger: The Monorail!"

    "In the Blue Corner, 1,235,294,573 cataclysmically stupid people who can't figure out how to merge, what a green light means, or even how to use their fucking turn signals, the reining champeen which has sucked the IQ of every challenger dry: Gridlock!"
  • E.L.V.I.S. (Score:5, Funny)

    by torklugnutz (212328) on Tuesday April 23, 2002 @11:40PM (#3399276) Homepage
    There was a contest for people to come up with names for this contraption. My submission:

    E.L.V.I.S. - Elevated Las Vegas Interconnect System

    I haven't heard back yet, but it seems like a winner to me!!
  • by steved (109399) on Tuesday April 23, 2002 @11:54PM (#3399308) Homepage
    According to Bob Gurr [laughingplace.com] who worked on the Disney monorail designs, The original monorail cars were purchaced from the Disney fleet. He also points out that selling old ride vehicles was against the rules when Walt Disney was still alive. My how times change.
  • by mattr (78516) <mattr AT telebody DOT com> on Tuesday April 23, 2002 @11:55PM (#3399311) Homepage Journal
    Perhaps the people building this could get something out of trying two trains in Japan.

    - The monorail from Shimbashi (in Tokyo near the Ginza) to Ariake (manmade peninsula with convention and amusement facilities).
    This is an unmanned, beautiful monorail which loops out over the sea. Has some good handholds and soft parts you can lean on because it seems on a narrow train with lots of windows you get pushed strongly to the side when you don't expect it. Beautiful glass car in front is a great panorama.

    - The newest subway built in Tokyo, opened last year: Namboku Line which runs from northern Tokyo down to fashionable Azabu. (Like the above monorail I believe) the platform is enclosed on either side by glass walls interrupted by sliding glass doors which only open when the train stops right in front of it. There are metal posts with electric eyes on them just inside where the doors retract, so that they won't try to close while someone is entering. No room also because of those posts for someone to slide outside the glass wall.
  • The story that I heard was that this type of system had been planned for years but cabbie groups had lobbied city hall to stall it.
  • by Peyna (14792) on Wednesday April 24, 2002 @12:11AM (#3399356) Homepage
    I don't have any linkage for you, but I guess I could walk outside and take some pictures. A local hospital is footing the bill for an approximately 3 mile monorail line in downtown Indianapolis to connect Methodist Hospital with the IUPUI Campus and all the hospitals around it.

    Clarian Health, who owns most of these hospitals is foot the 34 million dollar bill for this, and the city will get monthly payments from them for taking land away I guess. I just have to find out if I can catch a ride to class on the thing, or if it will be limited to medical personel only.
  • From the article:
    Denver is extending some of its new commuter rails and a proposed monorail downtown is a subject of fervent debate.
    Well, sort of. Denver [rtd-denver.com] is indeed expanding its Light Rail [rtd-denver.com] system. However, the section of track that just opened has little to do with commuters-- it passes by Mile High (our new stadium), the Pepsi Center (our new-ish arena-- go Avs!), and Elitch Gardens (the local Six Flags franchise). Basically, it's for people looking for entertainment, not working schmucks.

    However, the next expansion (which will be completed in a few years, IIRC) is a link between Denver and a large suburb to the south. A benefit to commuters, but also greatly welcomed by shoppers.

    Also the proposed monorail [highspeedmonorail.com] is meant to connect Denver with the ski resorts-- it isn't meant to be a "downtown monorail" as the article implies.
  • by Nethead (1563) <joe@nethead.com> on Wednesday April 24, 2002 @12:31AM (#3399402) Homepage Journal
    You guys chewed up 15Mb/s of my bandwidth on monorails.org just a few days ago and now you have to put links in again. Look, we get this bandwidth gratis from ColoCenters [colocenters.com] and I don't want to have them bitch about all the traffic. The FreeBSD server takes the hits ok, but it sure shows on the MRTG graphs. Today UserFriendly also had us linked as LOTD so we're really pushing the bits.

    What is it with geeks and monorails anyway?

    And the Simpsons song just isn't funny anymore.

  • Is there actually any reason to build a monorail aside from coolness? Do they have any advantages over traditional railed vehicles, or is it just that they figure tourists would be more likely to ride a monorail than an elevated train?

    Also, from the article: The first four miles of the rail project are being funded entirely with private money raised through tax-free bonds.

    And who do they expect to eventually pay off those bonds, the tooth fairy? Sounds like the whole thing is publicly funded to me...

  • My first response was Yes! As somebody who goes to Las Vegas several times a year, and cringes while sitting in cabs as the meter keeps running at stoplights, I was happy to see finally a nice transit system that stays out of the way of traffic.

    Then I saw the route map.

    1/2 the strip is not accessed by it. It starts at the MGM grand. And, most problematic, it does'nt go to the airport.

    If I was designing this, it would run up the strip to the Sahara, turn right to the convention center, then head north to downtown.

    I can't help to think that those cab drivers I hate so much had something to do with this assinine design.
  • Maybe pedestrian/auto traffic wouldn't be so bad if Las Vegas (aka the strip) was designed to allow people to easily move from one point to another. Sometimes if you wanna cross the street, you have to go in one casino cross over a walkway into another Casino and then exit. Also, the walkways tend to suck you towards the main casino entrance so instead of walking in a straight line you have to wiggle around a lot. Some of the outdoor shows (like Treasure Island, Bellagio Fountains maybe) are placed in such a way that they completely cut off all flow of pedestrian traffic. A few people stop to watch and then everyone gets jammed up. It's sometimes faster to cut through the Casino. My point is the Strip is designed to pull people into Casinos, not to help people get around. Point and case, the monorail actually appears to avoid most of the strip. The only strip stops shown on the map are around the Bellagio and MGM (owned by the same group right?).
  • Why monorails? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Black Rabbit (236299)
    Every time a topic comes along that involves monorails, we have to put up with two things...the obligatory Simpsons quotes and now the links to the website from the guy who put one inhis backyard! I'll tell you, seeing the lyrics to Lyle Lanley and Co. is wearing just a little bit thin.

    Seriously, though, I'd be interesting to know why it is that everybody in the States automatically thinks of monorails whenever non-bus public transit is discussed. Could it be that you're all becoming just a little bit too Disnified? I'm surprised there is little mention of the old San Fransisco cablecars. Maybe you'd prefer something along the lines of Alfred Ely Beach's pneumatic subway!

    If you make the trip over to Europe, you will see that just about every town or city has some sort of public transit involving surface light rail, usually trams/streetcars. Every one of these systems is efficient and well run. I see no reason why the same cannot be done over here. If it's a question of space, remember that all of these European towns are strapped for any space, and efforts are made to preserve as much green space or living space as possible. Still they install the tramways. They go down the centre of multi-lane boulevards, down disused railways, purpose built elevated track, pedestrian malls, and, because they can be built to accommodate regular tired vehicles--cars, no pun intended--straight down any city streets. In short, a tram can be built to go just about anywhere that efficient public transit is needed. It's also handy that nobody would need to re-invent the wheel, as excellent, KISS technology exists. For those concerned about costs and subsidies, keep in mind that places like Zagreb and Sarajevo, both capitals of war-torn countries, don't exactly have much money to throw around, but rebuilding their own tram lines has been a priority. For the NIMBY types, these systems are quiet and often quite picturesque, especially compared to buses. (Postcards of trams are everywhere! Besides a red London Double Decker, ever see a picture postcard featuring a diesel bus?)

    North America was filled with streetcar systems right up to the '50's. Ottawa, for instance, had an excellent streetcar system that ran all over what was then the city. It was even powered by its own hydroelectric power dam on the Ottawa River! Killing it off is now considered one of the stupidest things that City Hall ever did! Toronto still has much of theirs, and has been expanding it in recent years. There are certainly no plans to build any more lines like the crappy Scarborough RT line, a monorail, that hasn't been the best of systems.

    Have all the plans and designs for these practical and efficient systems been thrown out in favour of all these amusement park monorail rides? If monorails as public transit are so efficient, so quiet, so inexpensive and so simple, I fail to see why they aren't all over Europe, where space saving and efficiency is all-important.

    *****
    • Cities in the American south west are nothing like cities in Europe (or many in Canada, for that matter). It's an entirly different ball game.

      These are cities designed nearly from day one to revolve around the car. We made it cheap, easy, and nearly impossible to put the sort of transit system you have in Europian cities into practice. Everything is too spread out, and too congested with traffic because we have to travle longer distances.

      In the case of Las Vegas, a monorail is simply the best fit for the situation along a corridor mostly travled by tourists. Your European transit solutions simply would'nt work in this situation.

      Incidently, there are moterized trollies (not on rails) you can take up and down the strip for $1.50. I've used them. But you could triple the number of these, and you'd still have the same amount of congestion we see today.

  • Somehow, Americans have managed to convince themselves that any elevated railway must necessarily be a monorail. Anybody smart enough to type http://slashdot.org into a browser will have little difficulty seeing that the two concepts are entirely separable.

    A moment's thought about the forces involved will also reveal that a single-rail design is much more difficult to get right. In fact, every "monorail" system I've ever seen has a very wide track, and the trains have wheels on both sides. They are really very narrow-gauge dual-rail systems in which the two rails are connected by a web of excess material that contributes a lot of weight and very little structural integrity.

    So why are we so enamored of monorail? Simple: in the 1950's, Walt Disney was looking for a way to make part of his park "futuristic". He was so successful that the entire country has bought into the idea that monorails are clever technology. Not.

    As a Vegas ride, this project makes perfect sense. For any other city, we should stick with promoting above- or below-grade transportation systems, and let the engineers decide on the rail count.

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