Definition from the Monorail Society (
MO*NO*RAIL n. 1. A single rail serving as a track for passenger or freight vehicles. In most cases rail is elevated, but monorails can also run at grade, below grade or in subway tunnels. Vehicles are either suspended from or straddle a narrow guideway. Monorail vehicles are WIDER than the guideway that supports them.

Major monorail deployments:

  • Japan:
    • Japan's first monorail was at the Ueno Zoo in Tokyo, built in 1957. With over a million passengers in its first year, the Ueno Monorail proved the popularity of monorail to Japan decision makers.
    • The seventh monorail system built in Japan, in 1990, was the Osaka Monorail. In 1995, the disastrous earthquake of nearby Kobe proved to be a test for the Osaka Monorail. It withstood the violent quake and proved to be a vital transit link in the area as traffic on the parallel freeway became completely jammed with evacuees.
  • Walt Disney World, Florida: Opened in 1971, this system carries 150,000+/day.
  • Opened in 1901, the world's oldest operating transportation monorail operates in the Ruhr district of Germany. The name "Schwebebahn" translates to Suspended Railway. Top speed for the vehicles is 56 kph. In April of 1999, a derailment of a morning commuter train caused four deaths, the only fatal mass transit monorail accident in the 20th century.

Ray Bradbury regarding LA's decision to not go with The Alweg Monorail Company's proposal to build a monorail system for free, which would be handed over to LA and be repaid by profits.

"on New Years Day 2001, let us pour 10,000 tons of cement into our never-should-have-been-started, never-to-be-finished subway, for final rites. Its concept was always insane, its possible fares preposterous. Even if it were finished and opened, no one could afford to use it. So kill the subway and telephone Alweg Monorail to accept their offer, made 30 years ago, to erect 12 crosstown monorails--free, gratis--if we let them run the traffic. I was there the afternoon our supervisors rejected that splendid offer, and I was thrown out of the meeting for making impolite noises. Remember, subways are for cold climes, snow and sleet in dead-winter London, Moscow or Toronto. Monorails are for high, free, open-air spirits, for our always-fair weather. Subways are Forest Lawn extensions. Let's bury our dead MTA and get on with life."- Ray Bradbury

And you gotta check this out:
The Monorail Song
From the episode: "Marge vs. the Monorail (9F10)."
written by Conan O'Brien

The monorail was hailed for many years, specifically the general era of 1950-1969, as a shiny, mysterious symbol of a technological future. The use of a sleek monorail as the rapid transit system for Disneyworld's Tomorrowland and EPCOT Center was no doubt instrumental in forwarding that idea, as well as the Seattle monorail which was built for the 1962 World's Fair.

But along with videophones, jetcars, and inflated-balloon polyurethane houses, the monorail is now, in most modern people's eyes, a piece of ironically outdated technology, which has been surpassed by new wonders like maglev trains or by improvements on more down-to-earth systems like subways and inline light rail. It has been ridiculed in a famous episode of The Simpsons as well as cheekily derided in an early-80s song by Buggles.

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