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Monorails are for Disney!! No!

By Administrator, on Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Views : 7986    

Published in : Panama, Articles

"Monorails are ok for disneyworld, but not a real transport system"

I don't know if the above quote is due to a lack of knowledge regarding the Monorail alternative to light rail transport or is an understandable reaction to the person who proposed a monorail in the past.

Those days are past history now, and a fresh look at Panama's transport needs should be based on reality rather than soundbites.

However, it seems like Panama is going to have a light rail metro system inflicted on it whether it is practical or not.

Underground tunnels in a sea level city with inadequate drainage. Stations where the people don't go.

The cost of importing the iron rails for the permanent way, tunneling beneath existing developments, and purchasing land for the permanent way are going to cost billions.

Will it go where the people go?

For an existing city which is already overcrowded and developed, the monorail alternative is far more cost effective and practical as this 13 page photo tour from the monorail society will show.

The monorail shown in that study is in a city very similar to Panama, a mix of rich and poor neighborhoods, a tropical climate with the attendant heavy rains and already highly developed.

The monorail can fit into the existing infrastructure and traffic corridors, going where the people need to go, at a fraction of the cost of an LRT permanent way.

Monorails can handle the same grades or slopes as cars or buses as they use similar traction systems. Unlike LRT with it's steel wheels on steel rails and the consequent traction limitations. Another plus for a city like Panama which is not laid out on flat ground.

Another plus for Panama, no steel to be stolen as has happened already on the Costa Cintera. Thieves don't bother stealing concrete. Those rails would be a prime target for some of the gangs here. Worth a lot more than manhole covers.

Another study here shows a next generation alternative to using electric power with it's attendant cost of providing a power rail along the length of the permanent way. Using diesel-electric technology for the motive power reduces costs even further. A pdf file from the company that has developed this technology is available here or you can visit the Metrail Website for more information.

A system that can use some of the better quality displaced bus drivers, runs along existing traffic corridors, and complements the existing traffic rather than going to a limited number of stops.

Highly visible with the attendant advertising opportunities, a monorail would be a step into the 21st century for Panama.

Who will want to sit in the traffic jams when they can see others whizzing by in comfort over their heads?

With crush capacities of over 400 passengers in a 3 car unit, these modern monorail systems are the real answer to Panama's traffic problems.

Imagine such a system, not only in the city centre, but extending right out to the airport at Tocumen, bringing workers from those outlying areas into the city and their jobs. For a similar cost to tunneling a metro system, a monorail could even extend along the median of the highway right out through Arraijan to La Chorrera reducing the morning and evening congestion on the bridges over the canal.

That would really bring Panama into the 21st century. A plan for transport outside the city would be a real innovation compared to previous governments.



Last update: Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Keywords : Panama, Monorail, LRT, Traffic, Tocumen, La Chorrera, modern, transport
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