Le Monorail est mort, vive le Monorail

You wouldn’t know it from looking at the Seattle Monorail Project’s website, but apparently, the Monorail is dead:

The City Council today yanked its support for the Seattle Monorail, dealing a blow that council members declared would kill the embattled transit project.

In a unanimous vote, the nine-member council passed a resolution saying the city will deny street-use permits for the monorail’s proposed 14-mile Green Line.

A unanimous vote.

While the pragmatist in me agrees with the Council’s decision, I can’t help but feel wistful for what might have been. The Monorail was a bold, outrageous and exciting dream, and as columnist Danny Westneat poignantly observes in today’s Seattle Times: “Cities would wither without dreamers.”

And so rather than mourn the death of the Monorail, I’ve decided to celebrate the imagination and passion of the dreamers who envisioned it, by proposing a truly unique elevated transit vision of my own: The Seattle Rollercoaster Project.

Of course, it will take a couple hundred million dollars to determine the final route and design, but I’m guessing existing elevations would surely support a gravity-powered track along the West Seattle to downtown portion of the SMP’s proposed Green Line… and unlike the Monorail, the SRP would rely on a tried and true rail technology that has been widely used in thousands of locations for over 100 years.

Still, all transit technologies have their plusses and minuses. On the plus side, the SRP could potentially speed passengers from West Seattle to the downtown waterfront in under a minute… depending on the number of loop-the-loops and hair-raising, hairpin turns. On the minus side, the return trip back up the long, rickety, chain-driven ramp could take well over an hour, and the open-air cars aren’t well suited towards our rainy clime. (And of course, the biggest drawback is that you have to be taller than Mickey to ride.)

But in a city where voters have four times approved an elevated rail system based on Disneyland technology, why not just choose the most popular amusement park ride of them all? I’ve never seen anybody zig-zag through a 45-minute line with two, screaming, sugar-jacked kids in tow, just to ride a city bus… but a rollercoaster would virtually guarantee ridership, even under the worst conditions. Indeed, no transportation alternative is more likely to coax Seattlites out of their precious cars and onto public transit than the SRP.

But why stop there when we can truly turn Seattle into the most magical place on earth? We could recreate the pioneer days of the original “Skid Row” by building a giant flume ride down Yesler! And don’t tear down that Viaduct, when with few modifications we could transform it into a frighteningly realistic knockoff of the “Earthquake” ride at Universal Studios!

Yes, all it takes to solve our region’s transportation needs is a little imagination and a dream.

Or, barring that… I suppose we could settle for a coherent, multi-modal regional strategy, and a boring transportation package that tediously prioritizes fixing and replacing the decaying infrastructure we already have.

Still, that rollercoaster sure would be fun.


  1. 2

    Mark1 spews:

    Oh, the rest of us outside King County so wanted to pay for that too……………..after all KC is the center of the damn universe.

  2. 4

    Goldy spews:

    Mark1 @2,

    So… are you ignorant, or just intentionally misleading? Nobody outside of Seattle was paying for the Monorail… it was entirely financed by an MVET tax on city residents. So really… enough of this bullshit about the rest of the state paying for Seattle transit… you folks don’t pay crap. In fact, it’s the rest of the state who’s had their hand out for the past few decades.

    Fucking moochers.

  3. 6

    JCH spews:

    Shouldn’t the members of the “Monorail Commision” [all Democrats] still draw six figure salaries for doing nothing? After all, they are the Democrat elite!!

  4. 7

    Richard Pope spews:

    Goldy, excellent posting. You should have everyone ROFL on this one.

    Looks like the monorail board has come up with another fantasy however. They just voted to place a much shorter line on the ballot — maybe 7 or 8 miles worth, instead of 14 miles, at a cost reduction of only about 15%:


  5. 9

    Richard Pope spews:

    Well, the new fantasy scheme is probably 10 or 11 miles, and gets rid of 4 stations out of 19 originally planned. Completely eliminates Ballard — so no service north of the ship canal at all. Wonder what the fine print in the ballot proposal will say? The devil is in the details.

  6. 10

    JCH spews:

    Fucking moochers.

    Comment by Goldy— 9/23/05 @ 4:00 pm
    [Kind of like a draft dodger telling a vet he didn’t serve enough time in the military. [“If the shoe fits……….”]

  7. 11

    Swift Boat Vets For Universal Healthcare spews:

    I was for the thing since ’97, when I saw Dick Faulkenbury on The Ave, pitching the idea. I was for it again in ’00, when the City Council was forced to either fund it or dump it. I was for it when it passed by a tiny margin in ’02. I was for it when downtown property owners(and a few jews, I’m sure) financed I-83, which failed, by a huge margin. I was still for it when the city council essentially approved I-83, without a public vote, in an election year. This mayor and this council are such fucking candyasses. We vote against a stadium, we get one anyway. We vote for a monorail, four motherfucking times, and we get dick. Blame Joel Horn, the SMP, but remember this, you gutless mayor and whining city council: I want mass transit. I want mass transit. I moved to Seattle SO I CAN HAVE MASS TRANSIT. SO WHAT ARE YOU NINE BASTARDS GOING TO DO NEXT?

  8. 12

    Ludicrus Maximus spews:

    Well, what did you expect? At the time of the public votes, the Monorail people were promising a Honda Accord for the price of a Honda Accord. What they later delivered was a stripped-down Honda Civic for the price of a Ferrari.

  9. 13

    Ed Schneiderman spews:

    I realize most of them are paid to do it, but humor really brings out the mean-spirited psychosis in the trolls around here.

  10. 14

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Hey Goldy, you wanna ride rollercoast? All ya gotta do is drive on AVW every day until it falls down. Which it will, one of these days.

  11. 15

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Ignorant fucker @ 6

    How would you know who’s a Democrat? You don’t even live in this state!

  12. 16

    HowCanYouBePROUDtobeAnASS spews:

    I moved to Seattle SO I CAN HAVE MASS TRANSIT. SO WHAT ARE YOU NINE BASTARDS GOING TO DO NEXT? -Comment by Swift Boat Vets For Universal Healthcare— 9/23/05 @ 4:52 pm

    You moved to Seattle so you can have mass transit.

    Interesting reason.

    I would have to wonder why you would choose a city with such a bad record of mass transit, is years from ever achieving it, if it is actually possible given the topography of the region and the “sprawl” of its citizens, instead of one of those where it already successfully exists.

    Unless of course, as a liberal, you simply expected to be given what you desired when you desired/demanded it, and now that you aren’t going to get what you want, will have yet another monumental tantrum.

    And they call conservatives arrogant.

  13. 17

    HowCanYouBePROUDtobeAnASS spews:

    And, the cities that successfully use mass transit, i.e subways (NY) the Ell (Chicago), Rapid Transit (Cleveland) has had that infrastructure in place for years (my dear deceased Mother rode Cleveland Rapid Transit as a young woman 60+ years ago) and the cities grew up and spread around it.

    It’s like wiring a house – it’s way easier to put wiring in place before the walls go up. Yes, it can be done later, but with far more mess, far more destruction, far more hunting for a way to run it and far, far more expense.

  14. 19

    JCH spews:

    Ignorant fucker @ 6

    How would you know who’s a Democrat? You don’t even live in this state!

    Comment by Roger Rabbit
    [Looks like I was right. Lots of Democrat hacks [like Roger Rabbit] making top salaries doing nothing. How else can libs make money [besides looting]?

  15. 20

    Mark The Redneck spews:

    This thing highlights the arrogance that will propel 912 to victory. SPMA said even if it dies, the organization will continue for at least a couple of years while they shut it down, and all those parasites on the public dole for over $100k per year will continue to get paid. And Seattle’s moonbats will continue to pay the tax even after it’s dead.

    Seattle did it’s job illustrating the lunacy of liberalism so the rest of us can watch and laugh.

  16. 22

    Mark The Redneck spews:

    Article in today’s Times says City of Seattle has to ask legislature to disband the project. Why is that? If Seattle is paying for it, why is the state involved?

    And if the state is involved, can’t they just declare an “emergency” and do it anyway? Expand the tax base to Puget Sound or the whole state? Why not? They declared emergencies in last session on stuff helluva lot dumber than this.

    The immune system is gonna fight like hell to keep this thing alive. A whole lot of people have already counted their share of the billions that will get spent on this. And it will get spent… this ain’t over by a long shot.

  17. 23

    righton spews:

    Goldy; you post yet again praise for Danny Westneat in your blog.

    You must have something for the guy, cuz as best we can tell, he’s recycling old Jean Godden birdcage liner…

    Does he have pictures of you?

  18. 24

    righton spews:

    Half the track for 2x the price; That applies to any transportation around here; Sound Transit the king of waste

    PS, someone explain why they spent 4 yrs building the bus tunnel, now closing it for another 2 years cuz the messed up on the rails last time

    you really think these bozos would last a day at amazon, boeing, microsoft, 7-11, Kinkos…

  19. 25

    Mr. Cynical spews:

    Perhaps Goldy and Danny are BUTTBUDDIES???
    Both of them iron their jeans and tie their sweaters neatly around their little pencil-necks.
    They wear Izod shirts with the collar up.
    They both drink cordials and eat COCO Puffs for breakfast.

  20. 26

    Yellow Space Alien spews:

    #24 Light rail and electric engine technology has changed significantly in the last 15 years. They had the option to buy the older inefficient trains to run on the existing tunnel track, btu chose to upgrade the tracks to use the newer cars that run cheaper with higher weight (more riders) capacity. I think this is one of the few ideas that shows forward thinking about transit in this city’s history.

    Whoever said that building mass transit in Seattle is like wiring an old house is right on. It’s a huge expensive challenge where a million things can go wrong or cost more than expected because you’re building on top of an infrastructure that already exists. It doesn’t help, of course, that current transportation leadership was seemingly educated at at McD’ Clown College and can’t make make intelligent decisions.

  21. 27

    Yellow Space Alien spews:

    The lib v. con insult battle here is pathetic. Can’t you all have an intelligent debate without degenerating to ludicrous far-reaching stereotypes or questioning someone’s sexuality?

  22. 29

    Goldy spews:

    Alien @26,

    Not to mention the absurd efforts to unfavorably compare Seattle’s cost per mile to rail projects in flat cities.

    Hey guys… infrastructure costs more here (rail, roads, whatever) because of the topography, the landslides and the earthquakes.

  23. 31

    Mark1 spews:

    As far as ‘moochers’ go, the ironic thing there is you want everyone outside of KC to pay for your precious lil AWV and 520. Whose the moocher now?

  24. 33

    Righton spews:

    goldy and yellow;

    I dare you to go read the old Rick anderson exposes of the bus tunnel. he scorched those guys in a seattle weekly series.

    I really doubt its new technology; its bad planning.

    You mean 100% of light rail is new since 1990? you mean they were state of the art when they laid the track, and now all that state of the art is extinct? You mean they can’t buy light rail cars that fit the old tracks?

    naw, they arent using their own money…so what if they have to mess around for 2 yrs and xx million to mess up downtown again

    you’ll note in the 80s when approving the tunnel they never said, beware, we may have to shut it down for years at a time. so naive silly seattle will once again get stung when it builds sound transit; i can just see in 10 yrs they have to redo it again…

    go ask anderson about the buses that didn’t work…
    the turn that wasn’t right
    the rail that isn’t right

    goldy; dare you to try the truth…

  25. 34

    Righton spews:

    maybe they should run rail on nice flat railbeds along sammamish and lake wsahington. seems those old trains ran fine for about 100 yrs without any 10 yr consulting studies

    sort of related; we built the alaskan hwy in 9 months; plenty of slides, quakes, etc up there. of course they didn’t have conlin, sims, godden and steinbruck studying stuff to death.

  26. 35

    Bax spews:

    You mean 100% of light rail is new since 1990? you mean they were state of the art when they laid the track, and now all that state of the art is extinct? You mean they can’t buy light rail cars that fit the old tracks?

    Part of the reason why the tracks have to be replaced is because they weren’t properly insulated. Stray electrical current can corrode pipes in the ground, so the tracks have to be well insulated. For whatever reason, when the tunnel was built, this wasn’t done properly.

    But even if the tracks would’ve been insulated correctly, the tunnel would’ve had to be rebuilt anyway. The track/road surface needs to be lowered not just to accomodate light rail, but also to work with low floor buses that are now standard. These buses weren’t around when the tunnel was built.

    Per the Seattle Weekly:

    “The agency will also lower the rail bed by 6 inches to accommodate low-floor rail cars and buses. Transportation planners currently favor low-floor transit vehicles because they make loading passengers so much faster. The low-floor cars were not the industry standard during the bus tunnel’s original construction, so this extensive work would have been done regardless of the faulty track insulation.”


  27. 36

    Righton spews:

    yeesh,bax, use your brain..

    A) same outfit 15 years later, what has you confident this time they’ll get it right. Bad construction, design, management?

    b) My car doesn’t fit my garage; i didn’t mortgage my future and rebuild…i compromised on the car

  28. 37


    The Monorail Soap Opera Continues
    My head’s been down with work this week, so it’s a little surreal to see how much the Monorail has been in the news while my attention’s been diverted. It’s a freakin’ soap opera! First, as I said last week, Nickels has come out against the Monora…