Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Not just for Disneyland: LA mulls monorail

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Happy Line monorail built by BYD Motors in Shenzhen, China. Happy Line monorail built by BYD Motors in Shenzhen, China. Wikipedia

Los Angeles could look to the monorail as a solution to the massive congestion on the 405 Freeway connecting the San Fernando Valley and the city’s Westside.

The steep incline of the 405’s Sepulveda Pass is impractical for conventional elevated trains to climb, LA Mayor Eric Garcetti said on KNX-AM’s “Ask the Mayor” and reported by the LA Times. “Well, monorails can, and they can go at about the same speed as railcars,” he said.

Monorails operate over lightly-traveled, short distances in Seattle, Jacksonville, Las Vegas and Liberty International Airport in Newark, N.J., but serve commuter routes in Europe and Asia. Proponents say monorails are cheaper to build and are safer than rail.

In November 2016 Los Angeles County voters approved Measure M, a sales tax increase that is expected to raise $120 billion over the first four decades of assessment to help pay for transportation projects, including a possible rail line through Sepulveda Pass. LA’s Metro operating authority has not yet begun detailed analysis of transportation options. A monorail was considered to connect Koreatown with the Westside, but planners opted for a subway, now under construction.

In 1960 Los Angeles mulled a $539-million, 70-mile monorail system but the proposal failed amid opposition to cost and esthetic considerations.

In his radio interview, Garcetti pointed to a new monorail built in China by BYD Motors, a maker of electric cars and buses. The city provided $1.6 billion in federal funding to assist BYD in opening its North American headquarters in downtown Los Angeles. Metro has since purchased several electric buses from BYD, which operates a manufacturing facility south of Mojave, Calif.

BYD’s new system is better than the monorails of the past, Garcetti said, because it is earthquake-resistant, less expensive to build than rail, and can be accessed in an emergency.

“With a small footprint, with electric motors, safety for both earthquakes and access, it could be on the table,” Garcetti said. “So we will try and take an expedition over there to China and check it out.”






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