Ian Ker weighs in on: Do monorail projects deserve fair treatment?

Eric. You didn’t mention that it is only a couple of years since Sydney’s once much-vaunted monorail was demolished. It only ever carried half the number of passengers ‘expected’ and it destroyed the streetscapes through which it passed in central Sydney – not to mention running across one facade of the heritage-listed Queen Victoria Building at an angle to the horizontal lines of the QVB. To make matters worse, the ‘rail’ was painted a very visible pale blue.

Australia - Sydney monorail demolition

 

Prof Kerr’s commentary on World Street posting of 26/04/2016:  Editorial: Do monorail projects deserve fair treatment? Part I:

Another idea that keeps recurring in Australia is the Very Fast Train for Melbourne-Sydney-Brisbane, despite numerous studies demonstrating it was either not feasible or wouldn’t serve a useful purpose.

Coincidentally(?) at the time of the most recent resurrection of the idea, the Australian Broadcasting Commission broadcast an episode of ‘Utopia’ (sort of Aus equivalent of In the Thick of It) which very succinctly (and very satirically) debunked the arguments for the VFT. Nothing more has been heard of the VFT since!

The answer to your question is that monorails do deserve fair treatment but that fair treatment requires that repeatedly-debunked and failed concepts do not get serious consideration unless something very significant changes.

Perhaps for monorails, Season 4 Episode 12 of the Simpsons (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marge_vs._the_Monorail) would be an appropriate response.

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About the author:

Ian is an economist by training, who has worked with so many engineers, planners and many other transport professionals since he graduated from the University of Durham, England, in 1968, that he is literate in a wide range of other disciplines. Ian is an economist by training, who has worked with so many engineers, planners and many other transport professionals since he graduated from the University of Durham, England, in 1968, that he is literate in a wide range of other disciplines.

Ian is also Adjunct Associate Professor in Transport Studies at Curtin University, as part of the Planning and Transport Research Centre team.He has worked in most areas of transport including land, sea and air transport. He has been involved in policy development, planning and research in relation to freight transport, railways, ports and shipping, public transport, bicycles, walking, access for people with disabilities and travel demand management..

In all this he has sought to apply broad socio-economic principles (now often described in terms of the ‘triple bottom line’ or ‘sustainability’) to policy development, planning and decision-making, often in the face of limited data and lack of established methodology.

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About the editor:

Eric Britton
9, rue Gabillot, 69003 Lyon France

Bio: Trained as a development economist, Eric Britton is a public entrepreneur specializing in the field of sustainability and social justice. Professor of Sustainable Development, Economy and Democracy at the Institut Supérieur de Gestion (Paris), he is also MD of EcoPlan Association, an independent advisory network providing strategic counsel for government and business on policy and decision issues involving complex systems, social-technical change and sustainable development. Founding editor of World Streets, his latest work focuses on the subject of equity, economy and efficiency in city transport and public space, and helping governments to ask the right questions and in the process, find practical solutions to urgent climate, mobility, life quality and job creation issues. Currently working on an open collaborative project, “BETTER CHOICES: Bringing Sustainable Transportation to Smaller Asian Cities” . More at: http://wp.me/PsKUY-2p7 * This article is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 licence.

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