Posts Tagged ‘Monorail’

News and Letters – October 27, 2010

October 27, 2010

Local news & Letters

Chilliwack Progress#

http://www.bclocalnews.com/fraser_valley/theprogress/opinion/letters/105729548.html

William Chambers has very succinctly scored with a well landed punch on Sharon Gaetz, with this one.

 Also in the Chilliwack Times

http://www.chilliwacktimes.com/news/High+cost+rail+just+myth/3727555/story.html

 Langley Times#

Metro urged to recant rapid transit priority for Surrey

http://www.bclocalnews.com/surrey_area/langleytimes/news/105694708.html

Two more overpasses planned for Langleys

 http://www.bclocalnews.com/surrey_area/langleytimes/news/105490118.html

 Surrey Leader#

Make Bond use transit

http://www.bclocalnews.com/surrey_area/surreyleader/opinion/letters/105542243.html

 The Province#

Valley commuters need bridge

http://www.theprovince.com/opinion/letters/Valley+commuters+need+bridge/3718612/story.html

A Siemens Combino tram in Budapest colours.

International News

Gold Coast, Australia

http://www.goldcoast.com.au/article/2010/10/26/265831_gold-coast-news.ht
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Phoenix

http://raillife.com/blog/

Los Angeles

http://redondobeach.patch.com/articles/locals-prefer-light-rail

Denver

http://www.railway-technology.com/projects/eaglepcommuterrailpr/

Dulwich Hill, Sydney

http://lightrailextension.metrotransport.com.au/proposed-routes/light-rail-to-dulwich-hill/

Utrecht

http://www.railwaygazette.com/news/urban-rail/single-view/view/qbuzz-wins-utrecht-sneltram-concession.html

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The Fruit of the Poisonous Tree – TransLink’s Regional Transit Planning

October 13, 2010

Fruit of the poisonous tree is a legal metaphor in the United States used to describe evidence that is obtained illegally. The logic of the terminology is that if the source of the evidence (the “tree”) is tainted, then anything gained from it (the “fruit”) is as well.

TransLink’s planning officials still maintain that modern light Rail has a limited capacity of about 10,000 persons per hour per direction and refuse to entertain the fact that they are wrong. All of TransLink planning, including the RAV/Canada Line, the Evergreen line, the Broadway/UBC rapid transit line, and Fraser Valley transportation have assumed LRT’s seemingly inferior capacity and despite the fact that modern LRT can carry in excess of 20,000 pphpd, have portrayed LRT as a poorman’s SkyTrain.

The assumption that light rail has only a capacity of 10,000 pphpd is wrong.

The Light Rail Transit Association [ www.lrta.org ], which can trace its history back 63 years, which has continually campaigned for affordable and efficient public transit, defines light rail transit as:

“a steel wheel on steel rail transit mode, that can deal economically with traffic flows of between 2,000 and 20,000 passengers per hour per direction, thus effectively bridging the gap between the maximum flow that can be dealt with using buses and the minimum that justifies a metro.”

The following study from the LRTA, shows that even in 1986, it was generally understood that modern LRT could carry 20,000 pphpd.

https://railforthevalley.wordpress.com/2010/05/20/the-1986-lrta-study-bus-lrt-metro-comparison/

More recently, (2006) Calgary Transit LRT Technical Data page claims that the maximum theoretical capacity of the C-Train is 30,700 pphpd!

Maximum THEORETICAL single direction capacity (pass./hr/dir) at 256 pass./car and 2 min. headway:
3-car train 23,040
4-car train 30,720

http://www.calgarytransit.com/html/technical_information.html

If TransLink’s basic assumption about light rail (including streetcar) is wrong, then TransLink’s entire planning history, regarding bus, LRT, and SkyTrain is wrong and is not worth the paper it is printed on. Yet TransLink, without any public scrutiny and very little political oversight, continues to plan for hugely expensive SkyTrain light-metro projects, which supposed support for, has been heavily biased by questionable studies and even more questionable tactics – all fruit from the poisonous tree!

Noted American transportation expert Gerald Fox, summed up his observations on the TransLink business case for the Evergreen line;

” It is interesting how TransLink has used this cunning method of manipulating analysis to justify SkyTrain in corridor after corridor, and has thus succeeded in keeping its proprietary rail system expanding.”

https://railforthevalley.wordpress.com/2010/09/20/a-must-read-for-regional-mayors-before-they-talk-transit/

Has TransLink’s regional transit planning over the past ten years nothing more than “Fruit of the poisonous tree?”, based on the fact that TransLink’s bureaucrats desired that light rail (LRT) be seen inferior to SkyTrain, on paper, to ensure further planning and building of their cherished light metro system?

Rail for the Valley would welcome TransLink’s clarification on this issue!

The 10,000 PPHPD Question – TransLink is Hoisted on its Own Petard

October 5, 2010

At the recent streetcar symposium in Vancouver, TransLink officials contend that streetcars have very little capacity, almost less than a bus and that light rail can carry only 10,000 persons per hour per direction. This, despite the fact that the Light Rail Transit Association has, since the 1980’s, defined LRT “as a mode that can carry 2,000 to 20,000 pphpd, thus bridging the gap of what can economically be carried by buses and the ridership that would demand a subway“.

Many cities operating LRT or tram, provide capacities of over 20,000 pphpd on portions of their routes during peak hours, including Karlsruhe, Germany; Helsinki, Finland; and Tuen Mun, Hong Kong. Why then does TransLink maintain that LRT can carry only half as much as many LRT operations do in revenue service daily?

The answer lies in the 1994 Broadway – Lougheed Corridor BC Transit/Delcan study, which has formed the basis for TransLink’s questionable light rail planning since. Instead of involving consultants who have hands-on knowledge about LRT (as RftV did), TransLink continues to refer back to this questionable study, that was ill prepared and filled with technical error. TransLink wants to keep the door open for SkyTrain and metro construction in the region!

In order to make modern light rail appear inferior to the much preferred SkyTrain, the B-L Corridor Study used small capacity light rail vehicles, long headways and a small two car station in the middle of the Broadway/Kingsway/Main Street triangle to maintain the charade LRT comparisons to SkyTrain. The ruse has worked well and TransLink still spews out such dreadful bumf about light rail, that American transit and transportation expert Gerald Fox felt compelled to write a letter condemning the SkyTrain Evergreen Line business case!

https://railforthevalley.wordpress.com/2010/09/20/a-must-read-for-regional-mayors-before-they-talk-transit/

If TransLink has been dishonest with LRT planning in the region since its inception, then we must assume that all TransLink planning is dishonest;  “the fruit of the poisonous tree“.

Regional politicians must now consider that TransLink’s metro planning and their so-called public consultations as a sham process and must now demand independent studies by consultants who have expertise in light rail for regional transit planning. If TransLink’s own vast planning department needs to be reduced to accommodate this, so be it, as the transit planning coming from the ivory towers on Kingsway are not worth the paper they are printed on.

A primer on modern light rail for Mr. Shiffer and company:

  1. The difference between LRT and a streetcar is that a streetcar operates-on street in mixed traffic, LRT operates on a reserved rights-of-ways.
  2. LRT and streetcars can carry 20,000 pphpd, or more, if need be.
  3. LRT can and does operate at 30 second headways.
  4. LRT is cheaper to operate than SkyTrain.
  5. Modern light rail has made SkyTrain and the light-metro class of transit obsolete.

It becomes evident why Vancouver and the Metro region is the only city in North America and Europe that uses SkyTrain and light-metro (Canada Line), exclusively for regional rail transit instead of LRT and its variants.

The taxpayer have grown weary of TransLink and carrying the SkyTrain tax burden.

As Predicted – “Mayors consider raising taxes to pay for TransLink”

September 16, 2010

 As predicted yesterday:

TransLink is in a conundrum; there is no money for new metro expansion and the bureaucracy refuses to plan for much cheaper light rail. There is no way out, either taxes must increase to pay for metro construction or the transit system stagnates and becomes even more unattractive product for customers.

It seems Langley City Mayor and the rest of the regional mayors are going to take the cowards way out, by raising everyones municipal taxes to build the Tri_Cities Millennium Line. Instead of questioning the need to build, yet again, another hugely expensive metro line on a route that doesn’t have the ridership to justify the investment, regional mayor should look at cheaper options. Instead of saying “NO” to TransLink and their dated and cumbersome metro planning, they are going again to attack the taxpayer to fund political and bureaucratic metro dreams.

Next week, Rail for the Valley will be releasing a document that shows that we can build ‘rail‘ transit cheaper, far cheaper than the planning mandarins, in their ivory towers, on Kingsway can plan for. Here is an example: for the cost of the $1.4 billion plus Evergreen Line, we can build 140 km. of TramTrain in the region plus a Vancouver to Maple Ridge TramTrain service!

Does Mayor Fassbender want a political reaction like the HST, by raising taxes for a transit mega project that in the past has failed to induce a modal shift from car to transit? Are regional mayors so insensitive to the effects of another tax hike to build something that can be achieved for a fraction of its price.

It is time regional mayors hire an independent transportation consultant to give an alternative opinion for transit solutions in the region than what the well heeled bureaucrats at TransLink want forced on the public. Rail For The Valley certainly can suggest one!

Mayors consider raising taxes to pay for TransLink

Funds needed to build Evergreen Line

By KELLY SINOSKI, Vancouver Sun – September 15, 2010

Metro Vancouver mayors will likely consider a separate financial supplement to pay for TransLink’s $400-million share of the Evergreen Line by the end of the year.

Peter Fassbender, chairman of the mayors’ council on regional transportation, said Wednesday the mayors hope to fund their commitment for the rapid transit line, or the provincial government will come up with another way to make them pay for it.

A funding supplement would have to be approved by regional mayors, and could involve raising fuel or property taxes to bring in extra money for TransLink. The province has already said the Evergreen Line, the region’s top priority, will be built to connect Coquitlam to Vancouver via Port Moody. The provincial and federal governments have committed their share of the project.

“We have a window of time to either come up with our commitment or the government will have to do something else,” Fassbender said. “[A financial supplement] is the only way we can come up with our share. What it looks like I don’t know yet because it hasn’t been developed.”

Fassbender will meet Premier Gordon Campbell and Transportation Minister Shirley Bond next week to examine long-term issues of TransLink’s financial woes.

He said he can’t “pre-suppose” what decisions will be made at the meeting but hopes “we’ll be moving forward in a positive way.

“The purpose is to talk about working together to deal with sustainable funding and issues in transportation. It’s not going to be easy.”

A report this week by transportation commissioner Martin Crilly suggested TransLink is still struggling to pay for transit services and will have to look at other methods if it’s to meet the ambitious goals in its 2040 plan.

“To gain ground on the background growth of the region, a greater portion of the region’s wealth will need somehow to be devoted to providing that capacity,” he said in the report. “TransLink has yet to solve the conundrum of funding for capacity expansion, and cannot do so alone.”

Crilly said Wednesday TransLink will have to move in the direction of a “user-pay” system to continue to build transit infrastructure and operate it. Road pricing is just one example, he said, to get more people out of single vehicles and using transit or carpooling.

“That really is a more efficient use of space,” he said. “But in order to increase capacity it’s going to mean people will end up spending less on private travel and more on collective travel.”

Read more: http://www.vancouversun.com/news/Mayors+consider+raising+taxes+TransLink/3531218/story.html#ixzz0zhQW6cf6

The SkyTrain Lobby – Just The Usual Suspects!

September 10, 2010

"It used to be something called public transit ... then for reasons you're too young to understand, they did away with the public."

Transit again is making front page news in the dailies and regional newspapers, with TransLink claiming that the next big rapid transit (read SkyTrain) line will be in Surrey, not Broadway. A few international transit blogs have picked up the story with the usual suspects singing hosannas about SkyTrain, while in the same breathe libeling anyone who supports light rail, including long time advocates of the worlds most built transit system! What is perverse about the SkyTrain lobby is that they moan on and on about how facts about LRT being distorted or untrue, yet all they have to offer in turn is TransLink’s dubious claims about SkyTrain and the Canada Line, which is a conventional metro and not ART.

What is even more sad is that the old saw, “SkyTrain is cheaper to operate than light rail because it has no drivers” is trundled out ad naseum by the usual suspects and by bloggists who should know better. Automatic or driverless railways were the flavour of the month back in the 70’s and 80’s but have been found expensive to operate. Sure the system has no drivers, but in their stead an automatic metro system must hire a small army of attendants to keep trains and stations safe for the paying public. Not mentioned too, is a rather large squad of signaling experts must be on shift at all times to deal with problems with train operation because with an automatic metro, operating conditions must be at 100% or the system grinds to a halt.

What has been found is that automatic metros are only cost effective if average hourly ridership is above about 15,000 persons per hour per direction, below that threshold, LRT is cheaper to operate and at 15,000 to 20,000 pphpd operating costs of both modes are about the same. Yet, one never hears this from the usual suspects.

We have had now thirty years of SkyTrain only planning in the region and it has left us with a massive transit deficit. Sure, the SkyTrain metro system carries a lot of passengers, but 80% of those passengers have been forced to transfer from bus to metro. Transfers, especially forced transfers not only increase travel time, it deters about 70%of potential customers. There is no evidence that the SkyTrain metro system has caused a modal shift from car to transit and with the multi-billion Gateway highways and bridge project shows that the SkyTrain system is actually fueling new highway construction!

SkyTrain is too expensive to extend and even finding funds to complete the Evergreen Line (Nevergreen Line) are almost impossible to come by, yet the SkyTrain Lobby persists that the proprietary metro is just ‘peachy‘.

To date, SkyTrain has yet to prove in revenue service that it is cheaper to operate than light rail; to date SkyTrain has yet to prove in revenue service that it can carry more passengers than light rail! These two facts accounts for ICTS/ALRT/ALM/ART dismal sales record when compared to light rail and the once mighty Skytrain has now been relegated as a niche transit system for airports and theme parks. The usual suspects again remain silent about this.

Yet we knew this already. From the 1983 TTC ART Study:

“ICTS costs anything up to ten times as much as a conventional light-rail line to install, for about the same capacity; or put another way, ICTS costs more than a heavy-rail subway, with four times ICTS’s capacity.”

Or if one had read Gerald Fox’s A Comparison Between Light Rail And Automated Transit Systems. (1991), which concluded:

  • Requiring fully grade separated R-O-W and stations and higher car and equipment costs, total construction costs is higher for AGT than LRT. A city selecting AGT will tend to have a smaller rapid transit network than a city selecting LRT.
  • There is no evidence that automatic operation saves operating and maintenance costs compared to modern LRT operating on a comparable quality of alignment.
  • The rigidity imposed on operations by a centralized control system and lack of localized response options have resulted in poor levels of reliability on AGT compared to the more versatile LRT systems.
  • LRT and AGT have similar capacities capabilities if used on the same quality of alignment. LRT also has the option to branch out on less costly R-O-W.
  • Being a product of contemporary technology, AGT systems carry with them the seeds of obsolescence.
  • Transit agencies that buy into proprietary systems should consider their future procurement options, particularly if the original equipment manufacturer were to cease operations.
  • The SkyTrain Lobby, with the usual suspects, ignore transit studies from experts who have hands on knowledge about light rail and metro and continue to put evangelic faith with those who want ‘pie in the sky’ metro and subway planning. The taxpayer, especially taxpayers who live South of the Fraser are growing weary of paying higher taxes to build just a little more politically prestigious metro in Greater Vancouver, just ask Premier Gordon Campbell and the HST fiasco.

    TransLink’s new motto for ‘rail‘ transit should be:

     “Build it Cheap and Build Lots“.

    Late Friday Night’s Musings For Saturday Reading

    July 3, 2010

    Zwei, with a cup of tea in hand, has been reading the various transit blogs and answering emails from interested parties around the world, trying to get a read on what direction public transit is going in the near and not so near future. Sadly, I see a trend in North America towards supporting building hugely expensive heavy-rail subway metro systems, without any consideration for the cost of such a venture. This unrealistic view has tainted our transit planning on this side of the pond to such an extent, that tens of billions of dollars will be wasted on gold plated, over engineered transportation projects, when far cheaper and just as efficient transit solutions would have worked just as well.

    The silliness I see from professionals supporting hugely expensive, to install and maintain, automatic train control signaling on new rapid transit (LRT is not rapid transit) lines, demonstrates a gross naivety on the subject of railway signaling. Has anyone who promotes or supports automatic train control (ATC) ever talked to a signaling engineer? I don’t thinks so by the endless cheer-leading for ATC.

    Has anyone compared the operating costs of Vancouver’s SkyTrain with Calgary’s LRT? If they had, they would have found that just the SkyTrain Expo Line costs 60% more to operate (2006) than the Calgary’s C-Train LRT, yet the C-Train carried more customers!

    Has anyone thumping the desk for ATC ever stopped and considered that transit systems which include ATC are seldom built and ATC is only used on the heaviest used metro lines where automatic (driverless) operation does save operating costs over older manually operated block signaling?

    LRT’s Renaissance started in France in the mid 1980’s, when modern low-floor cars, operating on dedicated or Reserved Rights of Ways, were found to be cheaper to build and operate than France’s home grown automatic VAL mini-metro. In the 1970’s France only had a handful of elderly tram or streetcar systems, but in 2010, the country boasts 16 operating tram/LRT systems; 9 more under construction; and 5 in later stages of planning!

    In the mid 1980’s, metro or subway construction was bankrupting scores of transportation authorities in many countries and at one time, there was over 100 km of uncompleted or semi-abandoned subway tunnels throughout Europe! The Chaleroi in Belgium being a  good example. Though building subways on heavily used transit routes still continues and rightly so, European transit planners have reduced public transit construction costs by building new LRT/tram systems. The Germans take top prize for cost efficient public transit with the very successful TramTrain concept.

    TramTrain, where streetcars are so designed to track share with mainline railways, see total construction costs well under $10 million/km., a fraction the cost of subway or metro construction, where in some cases see construction costs exceed $500 million/km.!

    Yet this is all lost by the many blogs and bloggist who support ATC and denounce LRT as some sort of 19th century folly. What is really sad, is that those supporting subways and ATC, seem completely removed from the real world of finance and financing expensive public transit schemes. The fairy tale land of subway planning always include new and higher taxes, yet proponents of subways fail utterly to understand that there is precious little money to fund their ever costlier transit plans.

    In the end, those supporting automatic metros and their kin, may see a line built, but with little chance of much needed expansion in the near or not so near future, while at the same time, much derided Portland keeps expanding its LRT network by about two lines every decade. In an age of peak oil, global warming, and massive urban congestion, it is completely foolish to keep advocating ‘pie in the sky’ metro projects that in the end, may build one or two line at most (three lines in Vancouver),  financially exhausting the taxpayer and not providing a credible alternative to the car.

    Those who spend hours condemning LRT with “Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics“, fail to grasp historic lessons with light rail and have invented their own little world, where Tom Swift style $250 million/km. or more, driverless elevated railways or subways, with all the whistles and bangs, are easy to come by and the taxpayer is only too happy to pay more tax to fund transit mega projects.

     

     

    Canada’s gridlocked mayors call for multi-level strategy on transit

    May 28, 2010

    The following news item shows that the issue of public and regional transit and funding of transit is beginning to creep into the politicians radar. Throwing more money at transit will not solve very much as politicians have a very strange habit of funding their ‘pet‘ projects. The federal government can help by rewriting the ‘Railways Act’ to take into account their almost total monopoly over railway infrastructure, the vast majority of it paid for by the Canadian taxpayer. Small commuter-rail lines and the advent of the TramTrain, means that the national and regional railways must make available (by statute or contract) train pathways for such services on their rails.

    RFV makes the following suggestions for Canada’s ‘gridlocked‘ mayors to make of the federal government.

    1. Mandate by law that railway companies must allow passenger/commuter rail/tramtrain service on their lines.
    2. Mandate by law that all disused or abandoned rail routes, in urban areas, are kept for ‘rail‘ transit use.
    3. Mandate by law a funding cap of $25 million/km. be placed on all road and rail transit projects; all costs above the funding cap must be approved by local referendum.
    4. Mandate by law a full and open independent review of all transit projects, which cost over $100 million.
    5. A review and implementation of new road and highway safety rules for railway crossings, with the onus placed on the auto driver to obey such rules.

    Such laws in place in Canada would help curb the present mania for gold-plated transit projects so favoured by politicians and bureaucrats, as well leave open cheaper options for ‘rail‘ transit projects hitherto ignored in this country. We are nearing the precipice of ‘peak oil’ and ‘global warming’ and there will be a great need to utilize both existing railway lines and abandoned and disused rail lines. To prepare for the future, our politicos must act now.

    Canada’s gridlocked mayors call for multi-level strategy on transit

    By Mike De Souza, Canwest News Service
    OTTAWA — Gridlock and lack of federal funding for public transit is jeopardizing Canada’s economic recovery, say mayors from across the country.

    http://www.theprovince.com/news/Canada+gridlocked+mayors+call+multi+level+strategy+transit/3074915/story.html

    Olympic Hubris – Will The Wrong Conclusions Be Made By Our Planning & Political Elites?

    February 27, 2010

    In the last days of the 2010 Olympics, much has been made about how well our transportation worked during the event. What has been overlooked is that for the two week extravaganza, Vancouver had much warmer seasonal weather, meaning no snow to stall the SkyTrain metro and make a shambles out of the bus schedules. Added to this, many Vancouver downtown professional businesses closed or reduced hours of operations because of driving and parking restrictions. This was a win-win situation for TransLink as many people were forced from car to transit (active traffic calming), while at the same time, spring like weather created absolutely no problems in operations.

    High ridership figures were reported for SkyTrain and the Canada Line and that was to be expected for such a large protracted event. In San Diego, their LRT system, which carries about 110,000 passengers a day, carried over 340,000 customers on Superbowl Sunday, when the city last hosted the event.

    The SkyTrain Lobby have taken the metro’s high ridership numbers as some sort of reason to build more metro, while at the same time belittling light-rail. Though one disputes some of the ridership figures given by TransLink, it must be accepted that the metro carried record numbers of customers, the same would have been true with light rail. The SkyTrain lobby are trying desperately, while the Olympic memory is still fresh, to push for hugely expensive metro and subway projects, before the sleeping giant South of the Fraser awakens.

    That sleeping giant? The Fraser Valley, which combined population is greater than Vancouver, Burnaby, and Richmond; which population is awakening to the fact that their transit taxes are paying for high priced metro for Vancouver, while they get scraps. Surrey residents in particular are beginning to realize that SkyTrain will not be extended in the near future (38 years according to one group) in their city, while learning that LRT/tram can be built for the fraction of the cost and quickly. There is an ever increasing call for the South Fraser Area to secede from TransLink and form their own transportation authority, which taxes collected will be kept in their local, to pay for the transit they want or can afford.

    The provincial government must finally mature and let the people decide what transit mode they want and not keep on with a the very tired “You are going to get SkyTrain whether you like it or not” routine. What many South of the Fraser see, is that TransLink’s planning will further burdening the taxpayer with ever higher taxes to subsidize a costly “Edsel” metro system, that very few will actually use.

    The one question that the SkyTrain lobby refuse to answer is; “Why, after being on the market for over 30 years, only seven SkyTrain systems have been built; all by private deals with little or no public scrutiny?” The answer of course is embarrassing to their cause and is swept under the carpet.

    The SkyTrain lobby’s demands for more and more expensive SkyTrain, may be fortified with Olympic Hubris. Taxpayers beware!

    And Then There Were Six – Metrolinx Says Adiós to SkyTrain

    January 26, 2010

    Toronto’s Metrolinx is saying adiós to the SkyTrain (ICTS) Scarborough Line and will convert the route to LRT by 2015. In November 2009 Metrolinx, Toronto’s regional transit planning authority has decided to convert the 10 km. Scarborough ICTS (SkyTrain) light metro to LRT by 2015.

    The Scarborough ICTS/SkyTrain line is suffering the same fate as so many other proprietary transit systems have done before; abandonment. To new to be an operating museum like the German Schwebebahn monorail, and not compatible with other transit modes like metro or LRT, has sealed the fate of the UTDC’s ICTS/ALRT light metro system.

    Another Gadgetbahnen Bites the Dust – Las Vegas Monorail Files for Bankruptcy

    January 17, 2010

    This news is not surprising and well illustrates the nonsense pandered by the light-metro lobby that grade separated, automatic transit systems themselves attract ridership. Monorails are in fact proprietary light-metros and once one invest with monorail, it is stuck with both monorail and the supplier, which is very bad for future transit planning, with Vancouver well illustrating the many problems that come with our SkyTrain gadgetbahnen.

    Despite the hype and hoopla with the 6.3 km Las Vegas monorail, it just did not meet its promoters expectations and with its expensive construction costs and lack of customer popularity, there will be little appetite to fund a much needed $500 million, 5.6 km  extension to McCarran International Airport, despite the positive spin in the news item.

    The Las Vegas monorail could very well be the harbinger of things to come for the proposed Honolulu elevated light metro!

    From Mass Transit website:

    Las Vegas Monorail Files for Bankruptcy

    Adrienne Packer
    Las Vegas Review-Journal (Nevada

    NEVADA – The Las Vegas Monorail Company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy Wednesday, one month after representatives of the rail system announced such a move could allow a future $500 million expansion to McCarran International Airport.

    Monorail officials said last month that they had three options: negotiate an agreement with bondholders without filing for bankruptcy; file for bankruptcy with the bondholders’ blessing; or file without a new agreement in place.

    In 2000, the state’s Department of Business and Industry awarded the company the tax-exempt bonds in a three-tier structure with the company promising revenue after the monorail met the start-up costs.

    Monorail representatives told the state it anticipated about 20 million passengers a year who would pay a fee of $2.50 per trip. Its Web site says it has carried 27 million passengers in five years.

    Last year, the train carried 6 million passengers and brought in $27 million in fare box and advertising revenues. In prior years, ridership figures hovered between 7 million and 8 million. Company officials blame the sluggish economy for the drop. Las Vegas hosts fewer conventions and attendance has decreased at events in town.

    The company was forced to dip into its reserve funds in 2008 in an effort to meet more than $19 million in principal and interest due for the bonds issued by the Business and Industry division. At that time, Fitch Ratings, a New York City-based credit rating firm, estimated the company had $69 million in reserves on hand, down $20 million from 2006.

    Curtis Myles, chief executive officers of the company, would not elaborate on a deal forged with bondholders.

    “We have been in discussions with bondholders. We have some agreements with some of them; some are pretty confidential,” he said. “They are definitely aware we are filing.”

    Chapter 11 bankruptcy means reorganizing the financial structure; a plan developed throughout court proceedings is ultimately approved by a judge or a vote of the creditors. The company’s intent is to lower its payments to bondholders.

    Myles said the filing will not effect monorail services.

    “We’ll open tomorrow,” Myles said.

    Ridership has never met expectations since 2004, when the elevated train began providing service between the Las Vegas Convention Center and Strip hotels. Because the train’s popularity was underestimated, the company has failed to pay off the $650 million in construction and start-up costs.