When SkyTrain opened for Expo in 1985, it was hoped it could become a popular alternative for rapid transit. Other than in a handful of cities, like Kuala Lumpur, it hasn’t. But maybe a technology of the 80s, like music and fashion, is coming back.
Consider the global impact if a SkyTrain-like transit alternative happened in a trend centre like Los Angeles.
They don’t call it SkyTrain, of course. When they see an elevated train, Americans think of monorail (cue The Simpsons). One of the two bidders for the project calls it LA SkyRail Express . The technology may be different but the scale and purpose is the same. (The other bidder is for more conventional light-rail rapid transit.The $6.1 billion project would provide a one-way trip from the Valley to the Westside in approximately 24 minutes. But at about every 30 minutes, it’s not quite SkyTrain frequencies.
While comparing social geography is never accurate, the map suggests a comparison to Vancouver. The Sepulveda project would connect two of the most affluent parts of the LA region. Imagine the Santa Monica mountains as analogous to the Burrard Inlet, and you can see how it’s kind of like joining our downtown peninsula and the North Shore via SkyTrain.
UPDATE: The Los Angeles Times takes a skeptical view of monorail for the Sepulveda Pass:
… as long as monorail remains an option, there is a risk that the region’s political leaders will be wooed by expediency and the shiny new object. We prefer they take the long view: If L.A. is going to invest billions of dollars to build transit lines for the next century, let’s build the fastest, most useful and rider-friendly system possible. That’s rail, not monorail.