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February 11, 2006 11:43 AM   Subscribe

Ray Bradbury proposes monorail-bulding in LA.
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posted by Afroblanco (73 comments total)

 
Don't get how subways destroy business but monorails wouldn't.

Having lived in Tokyo 1992-2000 there's something to be said for above-ground transport. Some subway lines run above-ground in some places, and there is a marked difference in the experience.

Above-ground tracks, though, do shade the street and environ, so it's not a win-win thing.

Automated people-movers running on elevated tracks might be the best thing.

But the costs of driving (parking, tolls, gas) will have to double before there is political will to improve public transportation.

In Tokyo a parking space costs $500/mo (and you can't get your car registered without a registered space to park it at night), the expressways cost $10, and gas is $5/gal.

Driving is definitely NOT a middle-class thing there.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 11:58 AM on February 11, 2006


My heart skipped a beat when I saw Ray Bradbury's name on this FPP. Thanks for the jolt there afroblanco. Anyhow thankfully he's still going strong. As for this monorail idea, I don't live anywhere near L.A. but if that's what the man says then that's what needs doing. M is for Monorail.
posted by Skygazer at 12:00 PM on February 11, 2006


this seems like more of a Shelbyville idea to me...
posted by jonson at 12:05 PM on February 11, 2006


Didn't he come out for pedestrians once?

Of course an above ground monorail is the better idea, but expect someone to mention how much harder they are to protect from...wait for it...terrrists!
posted by ?! at 12:05 PM on February 11, 2006


Monorail!
posted by kcds at 12:09 PM on February 11, 2006


d'oh!
posted by jonson at 12:11 PM on February 11, 2006


The Roads Must Roll, Robert Heinlein, 1940.

No matter the author or the technology, it'll just be another avenue for a transit strike.
posted by cenoxo at 12:16 PM on February 11, 2006


Dougles could barely contain his disappointment. "That wasn't a monorail! That was only an old man in a chair talking about Los Angeles!"
But his friends would have none of it. "Didn't you hear what he was speaking about? He took us all over! Zoom! Look at me, I've just left Firestone! Now I'm in Lincoln Heights! Zooom!"
posted by Smart Dalek at 12:23 PM on February 11, 2006 [1 favorite]


Well, sir, there's nothing on earth
Like a genuine,
Bona fide,
Electrified,
Six-car
Monorail!
What'd I say?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:23 PM on February 11, 2006


The ring came off my pudding can.
posted by bigschmoove at 12:24 PM on February 11, 2006


Well, if it;s anything like the proposed Seattle Monorail thats's all sensible public transit schemes in LA screwed for the next 20 years.
posted by Artw at 12:25 PM on February 11, 2006


Well, if it;s anything like the proposed Seattle Monorail thats's all sensible public transit schemes in LA screwed for the next 20 years.
posted by Artw at 12:25 PM on February 11, 2006


Ray Bradbury: My job is done here.
People of LA: But you didn't do anything!
Ray Bradbury: Didn't I?
posted by billysumday at 12:29 PM on February 11, 2006


The ring came off my pudding can.

Take my pen-knife my good man.
posted by LilBucner at 12:42 PM on February 11, 2006


Take my pen-knife, my good man.
posted by glenwood at 12:43 PM on February 11, 2006


CURSES!
posted by glenwood at 12:44 PM on February 11, 2006


Well at least I was grammatically correcter than you.
posted by glenwood at 12:44 PM on February 11, 2006


Of course! Look at how well it worked for Brockway, Ogdenville and North Haverbrook!

Obligatory link: Marge vs. the Monorail.
posted by hangashore at 12:45 PM on February 11, 2006


I feel so bad for anyone who takes monorail transportation seriously. Since the best ever musical Simpsons episode, it's impossible not to mock the monorail.
posted by Nelson at 1:13 PM on February 11, 2006


Bradbury forgot to mention that there will be a family of possums in every car. I call the big one Bitey.
posted by Ohdemah at 1:15 PM on February 11, 2006


billysumday: I got that. Ray Bradbury--such a sweet, romantic writer.
posted by Turtles all the way down at 1:26 PM on February 11, 2006


Since the best ever musical Simpsons episode, it's impossible not to mock the monorail.

You could just not let TV control your opinions...
posted by Potsy at 1:39 PM on February 11, 2006


Don't get how subways destroy business but monorails wouldn't.

Because you have to dig up tunnels. But yeah, Also I don't see how a subway could possibly be cheaper then a monorail.
posted by delmoi at 1:46 PM on February 11, 2006


Since the best ever musical Simpsons episode, it's impossible not to mock the monorail.

My city planner friend bemoans this fact constantly. There are many places where monorails could be viable public transportation solutions, but the Simpsons have overly influenced public opinion.
posted by kimdog at 1:49 PM on February 11, 2006


Should do fine as long as there's a botox car.
posted by HTuttle at 1:50 PM on February 11, 2006


Donuts. Is there nothing they can't do?

Just curious - what makes city planner types/urbanists think that Angelenos will magically give up their cars to ride a monorail, when they haven't exactly abandoned their cars for the subway?

Until you give people an incentive to not drive alone, people will always drive alone, especially in LA. And it doesn't seem that a monorail would be an incentive for most people, unless they live right by a stop and work right by another stop.
posted by pdb at 1:54 PM on February 11, 2006


Monorails, pfft. The future belongs to PRT.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:57 PM on February 11, 2006


If LA's going to have a monorail, at least give it some style like George Bennie's 1929 Railplane (BBC film clip here.) For Hollywoodland, an econobox on rails ain't gonna cut it.
posted by cenoxo at 1:59 PM on February 11, 2006


I call this one "bitey".
posted by glenwood at 2:16 PM on February 11, 2006


Because of the sprawled nature of Los Angeles, fixed location public transit is effectively worthless (hello, Los Angeles Subway.) Continued improvement of their bus system is about the only thing that'd help... well, that, and $8/gal gas.
posted by fet at 2:20 PM on February 11, 2006


Monorails, pfft. The future belongs to PRT.

Agreed.
posted by blendor at 2:38 PM on February 11, 2006


You'll have to forgive those of us from Seattle who have a less than utopian view of monorails these days. Monorails may be "virtually accident-free", but when they do have an accident, it's a mess.
posted by robla at 2:42 PM on February 11, 2006


I call this one "bitey".

Blasphemer!

I call the big one "Bitey."

Pah.
posted by Pontius Pilate at 2:43 PM on February 11, 2006


I remember back in the '80s, when me and Ray used to hang out a lot more, he was always on about the monorails.

It got to the point, he'd start out with "What (such and such place) needs..." and before he could even finish, Isaac would say "Ray, would you please shut the fuck up about the monorails?"

Oh, how we'd laugh.
posted by Meatbomb at 2:43 PM on February 11, 2006


Yep, ol' Ray has been calling for monorails in L.A. since 1963. Nothing new here, except the L.A.Times had a big enough hole in their op-ed section to drop him into.
posted by wendell at 2:53 PM on February 11, 2006


There are many places where monorails could be viable public transportation solutions

Is there something that makes monorails better than other elevated trains?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 3:07 PM on February 11, 2006


I just can't get anything right today.
posted by glenwood at 3:11 PM on February 11, 2006


i'd have to second the motion that this will NEVER happen on the west coast because the distances and the cost of infrastructure (because you have siesmic forces i'm sure that it's pretty expensive to build monorail towers as you'd have quite a large overturning moment and you'd still have to purchase the land either way).

Probably the biggest hurdle is the mentality of people on the west coast. Suggesting a west coaster take public transit in place of thier car is like telling a midwesterner to grow a palm tree. Telling them to take the bus is like calling them a VERY foul name.

Of course if you have a situation where everyone travels to the same area of a condense downtown then rail systems make sense (though even in SF it costs me $3.45 each way to get into the city from my local BART stop, so i carpool). When you DON'T have everyone traveling to the same area then it makes no sense at all to have a big subway/monorail system in place.

here's my prediction: as more gridlock occurs, gas prices rise, and internet connectivity gets better you will see fewer people who travel long distances to work. we'll see smaller economically segregatted communities develop (around school systems) and public transit will be in place to connect these villages together. Who needs to drive/travel to work when you can work online.... Or things could just keep up like they are.
posted by NGnerd at 3:12 PM on February 11, 2006


oh yes, and also the BEST simpsons episode period, no need to state "musical" in there
posted by NGnerd at 3:13 PM on February 11, 2006


It isn't even a musical episode, there's just that one song.
posted by jonson at 3:54 PM on February 11, 2006


How many "Simpsons" references can we work in by 100 comments?
posted by papakwanz at 4:21 PM on February 11, 2006


True or false? You can get mono from riding the monorail.
posted by MonkNoiz at 4:35 PM on February 11, 2006


"Simpsons did it! Simpsons did it!!"
(/southpark)
posted by Balisong at 4:41 PM on February 11, 2006


Is there a chance the track could bend?
posted by Saucy Intruder at 4:50 PM on February 11, 2006


Not on your life, my saucy friend.
posted by glenwood at 5:06 PM on February 11, 2006


cenoxo, thankyouthankyouthankyou for the railplane link. I didn't know that footage of it existed.
posted by scruss at 5:26 PM on February 11, 2006


Were you sent here by the devil?
posted by stinkycheese at 5:41 PM on February 11, 2006


One problem Bradbury doesn't mention is the house and building owners who suddenly see their property values halved when they're suddenly in the shadow of a monorail. Once a subway is built, you can build over it.
posted by QuietDesperation at 6:03 PM on February 11, 2006


The monorail is a crap idea for LA. Clearly they need a system of electric streetcars.
posted by stet at 6:10 PM on February 11, 2006


No good sir, I'm on the level.
posted by Saucy Intruder at 6:31 PM on February 11, 2006


jonson wrote - this seems like more of a Shelbyville idea to me...

I was thinking the very same thing.
posted by pruner at 6:31 PM on February 11, 2006


Robla: It sounds like that Seattle monorail accident happened because of incredibly stupid and penny-pinching choices made by the people running the system.

The collision occurred on a stretch of track that was narrowed to make room for the Westlake Mall and to reduce the monorail’s shadow on the street below. The repairs do not include re-alignment of the track to allow both trains to pass.

...The collision occurred on a stretch of track that was narrowed to make room for the Westlake Mall and to reduce the monorail’s shadow on the street below. The repairs do not include re-alignment of the track to allow both trains to pass.


But blame it on the little guy:

Nickels and Anderson said they were satisfied with the performance of Seattle Monorail Services, a private company that runs the trains under contract to the city. The November accident was blamed on an error by the southbound train’s operator, who was subsequently fired. “Any system in the world can have driver error,” Anderson said.

They f*&^ up the tracks by putting them too close together, and refuse to install an automatic braking system. Then they have a huge, expensive accident that shuts down the system. And they fire a driver, but don't fix the real problem.

Public transit barely has a snowball's chance in hell in this country, with idiots like that running it.

It's my understanding that the residents of Seattle have voted multiple times for a larger monorail system, but the plan has been, uh, derailed each time by powerful interests.

See also: high-speed rail in Florida, which the voters approved with an amendment to the state consitution... and which Jeb Bush has fought tooth-and-nail.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 6:37 PM on February 11, 2006


The true nerds will have already detected the 17 references to the commentary to the monorail episode in this thread.

Plus, a "hidden" 18th. You'll know it when you see it!
posted by sonofsamiam at 6:39 PM on February 11, 2006


It says something about the quality of the idea if it can be defeated by an episode of a cartoon show.
posted by SPrintF at 7:15 PM on February 11, 2006


Batman's a scientist.
posted by quite unimportant at 7:18 PM on February 11, 2006


The lever you have pulled, "Brakes", is not in service. Please make a note of it.
posted by daninnj at 7:35 PM on February 11, 2006


And that was the only folly the people of Los Angeles ever embarked upon. Except for the popsicle stick skyscraper. And the 50-foot magnifying glass. And that escalator to nowhere.

I'm done.
posted by daninnj at 7:38 PM on February 11, 2006


[from the link on the Seattle Green Line]

Seattle vehicle owners will continue to pay the monorail tax until the debts incurred by the agency are satisfied, 2006 or 2007 according to SMP.

Ouch. That's pretty cold. Not only didn't they get their monorail, but they'll be paying taxes on the failed monorail attempt for another year or two.

How come municipal projects always seem to be mired in corruption?
posted by Afroblanco at 7:56 PM on February 11, 2006


And that escalator to nowhere.

The first time I saw that I sat and giggled nonstop for at least 30 minutes. I just couldn't get over it. So stupid, yet so funny.

I would quit for just a moment, then I'd start again.
posted by Ynoxas at 8:13 PM on February 11, 2006


Once again, Portland's Standard Gauge Light Rail says "Suck it, Seattle & LA too".
posted by ladd at 12:00 AM on February 12, 2006


That episode is Conan's great shining moment.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:29 AM on February 12, 2006


Generally, I like RB's stuff, but I can't agree about monorails.
posted by paulsc at 2:48 AM on February 12, 2006


The true nerds will have already detected the 17 references to the commentary to the monorail episode in this thread.

Plus, a "hidden" 18th. You'll know it when you see it!


Don't forget the Dandelion Wine homage...
posted by Smart Dalek at 4:07 AM on February 12, 2006


You know, the fact that people might dislike monorails because of that Simpsons episode is pretty stupid. I mean, besides the bare fact that relying on TV for one's opinions.

I mean, the point of that episode wasn't that monorails are a bad idea, it was that it meant no sense for a small town and the guy selling it to them was a crook.
posted by Target Practice at 6:11 AM on February 12, 2006


The uncritical deference that peopel display toward light rail never ceases to frustrate me. It's just not a useful solution in most cases where it's suggested. You get a lot of people's time and energy devoted to boosting light rail for mid-sized cities with distributed suburbs and few centralized work locations. In conversations with these people, they invariably invoke old trolley systems (or, like here in Rochester, our own long-defunct subway system)

Light rail works when you have very concentrated population masses who need to get to a small number of big places, or where there's regular movement on a grid throughout an area of dense population. Without those factors being true, buses or something them will always be more cost-effective.

But buses are unromantic. Buses aren't trains, and they aren't high-tect. They aren't sexy. A local political operative asked me, forcefully, prior to our recent mayoral election: "Who rides buses?" I told him I did; he wasn't satisfied with that answer, and supplied his own: "Black people ride buses."

But presumably anybody would ride a train. So he wanted to spend however many hundreds of millions of dollars it would take to build light rail lines from the big university campuses south of the city into downtown, so that college kids would ride downtown on nice clean trains un-hassled by people with darker skin than their own.

But what buses are, racially-loaded perceptions aside, is flexible. Bus routes can be changed to accommodate shifts in population center or work locations; big buses can be changed out for smaller buses to deal with greater or lesser ridership. The racial "problem" with buses is a marketing problem: Deal with it creatively, as a marketing problem -- don't throw shitloads of money at a non-solution to the wrong problem.

As I understand LA (and I only know it really by reading and a couple of short drives down Hollywood Boulevard with an old g.f.), the population density, the size of the city, and the lack of sufficiently centralized work locations make LA unsuited to light rail transit.
posted by lodurr at 7:14 AM on February 12, 2006


Just curious - what makes city planner types/urbanists think that Angelenos will magically give up their cars to ride a monorail, when they haven't exactly abandoned their cars for the subway?

Well, the subway that currently exists in LA doesn't stop at the places that most Angelinos want to go. To wit, it doesn't take you from the east side to the west side and back again. That's the commute you make if you're poor, but you work in, or just hang out at night in, the wealthier parts of town.

It's not as if the subway in Los Angeles is rusting idly from lack of use. A lot of people use it. I used it to get from my job in the inner city to my apartment in Koreatown, and some of my co-workers used it to get home to the valley. But it doesn't go to West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Westwood, or Santa Monica.

In fact, it also doesn't go to a lot of poor areas. The subway in L.A. is so small relative to the city and so irrelevant to many people that a lot of Angelinos don't even know that it exists, and would have no practical use for it even if they did.
posted by bingo at 9:02 AM on February 12, 2006


"Do you want to change your name to Homer Junior? The kids can call you HoJu."
posted by MonkNoiz at 11:05 AM on February 12, 2006


The subway in L.A. is so small relative to the city and so irrelevant to many people that a lot of Angelinos don't even know that it exists, and would have no practical use for it even if they did.
posted by bingo at 11:02 AM CST on February 12 [!]


I live nowhere near LA but I have to admit this thread is the first I'd heard LA even had a subway. I guess it just never occurred to me to even think about if they did or not.

Is the LA subway ever used on the typical LA tv show? So many shows set in LA but for some reason I'm not really recalling any mention it. Have I just missed obvious references?
posted by Ynoxas at 11:34 AM on February 12, 2006


It's featured in several movies--"Speed," "Lethal Weapon 3," "Collateral," etc. (Trivia: I believe it's open later in the last film than it actually is.)
posted by raysmj at 11:40 AM on February 12, 2006


The problem with buses is that, almost invariably, they are undependable due to street traffic. With a train, you know it's going to show up, and you know you'll get to your destination faster than you would if you drove your car. Urban buses aren't derided because of the race of their ridership. Urban buses are simply such inferior public transportation that the only people who avail themselves of it are those who are in such dire economic straits that they have no alternative.

Light rail isn't that much better except-- from my experience in Boston, it's slow and pleasant for only very short trips of only a few stops. Over long distances it is only a viable alternative to driving because parking is so scarce even in outlying areas.
posted by deanc at 11:51 AM on February 12, 2006


Astro Zombie - Conan agrees with you.

(and so do I.)
posted by anomie at 11:53 AM on February 12, 2006


Artifice_Eternity wrote: It sounds like that Seattle monorail accident happened because of incredibly stupid and penny-pinching choices made by the people running the system.

Yup, that's true. [sarcasm]I'm sure stupid, penny-pinching decisions in municipal efforts are entirely unique to Seattle[/sarcasm]. Besides, it's easy to play Monday morning quarterback with this...that stretch had been like that for something like 20 years, and I think this was the first time the two trains collided. Clearly, every other operator they had was able to successfully negotiate that curve without hitting the other train.

Monorails may have merit, but it sure seems like monorail supporters like Bradbury have this annoyingly Pollyannish view of them. Given that L.A. already has rail, it seems really dumb to build an incompatible system rather than extend the existing system.

Monorail Capital Costs: Reality Check seems a pretty good rebuttal to Bradbury's piece.
posted by robla at 12:15 PM on February 12, 2006


The Las Vegas monorail is pretty cool. Cheaper/quicker than taking a taxi.
posted by afx114 at 9:06 PM on February 12, 2006


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