IMA Advisor
March - April 2017
The International Monorail Association is a Members Association of registered companies whose mission is to organize the global monorail sector, promote the application of monorail, publish information, and establish performance standards for monorail for Public Mass Transport Infrastructure.
President's Note
Traditionally, transportation alternatives are primarily evaluated by analyzing cost and preference. There is more and more evidence that Americans actually prefer to ride well executed fixed guideway transit systems, evidence that could help shape the American approach to alternatives analysis.  However, the focus of the evaluation of transportation alternatives still is decidedly shifted towards a flawed cost analysis by authorities – an approach that thoroughly limits the development of fixed guideway transit projects.  That approach fosters existing automobile-oriented transportation solutions. That is, federal policies accentuate cost analyses that favor automobile commuting and massively understate its true total cost.  

Within this context, I recently received an email from a friend of the monorail industry in the United States, Dr. Thomas Stone, whose career spans more than 40 years in the planning, design, construction, and implementation of fixed guideway transit systems in several countries, including monorail, light rail, subways, and high speed rail.  In his message he articulates exactly the problems faced by our industry in few words: “Federal policy requires new fixed guideway transit projects to undergo a rigorous cost effectiveness analysis that must consider all costs, while analysis of highway projects does not.”  Dr. Stone maintains that thorough “all-in” cost comparisons are sparse and the findings of such results would be “highly illuminating”.
As an example, he cites that the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) requires all costs to be considered on a stand-alone basis in their mandated “New Starts” cost effectiveness analysis methodology, including:
  • capital
  • operations and maintenance
  • life cycle costs such as fleet replacement and facility rehabilitation
  • maintenance facilities
  • property acquisition
  • insurance
  • law enforcement
  • operating and capital costs of the buses needed to provide feeder bus service
…whereas their sister agency, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), does not require such an analysis for proposed major highway capital projects.  Dr. Stone goes on to state his opinion that if FHWA were to do an equivalent analysis to that which is required by the FTA, profoundly different answers quite likely would result.  He states that such an equivalent analysis should include all costs in order to consider the true cost to society of new major highway projects.  To complete an equivalent analysis, he points out that it should include the project’s appropriate share of costs for all of the following, just as required by FTA for fixed guideway transit projects:
  • taxes of virtually all kinds that are applied at all levels of government (city, county, state, and federal) to support the maintenance and rehabilitation of the highway network
  • purchasing, maintaining, financing, and replacing the autos themselves
  • garaging the autos
  • land used to support the automobile (i.e., in large cities more than 50% of the most valuable land is devoted to the automobile for roads and parking)
  • insurance
  • police / highway patrol
  • accidents
  • road construction – not just the initial cost, but life cycle costs that include re-paving, bridge rehabilitation, and so forth, just as required for New Starts transit projects
Dr. Stone indicates that he can’t recall seeing such an “all-in” comprehensive comparison of the true cost to society of travel by new transit projects to the true cost to society of travel by new highway projects, but that when he has made such “back of the envelope” comparisons, fixed guideway transit investment shows up quite favorably.  He feels that accurate and equivalent comparisons will be especially important as the nation embarks upon the proposed new infrastructure major investment program.
I feel that he is correct.  The accumulation of such data can be used to underscore the importance of public transportation, unravel the inherent biases evident in the existing system, and provide a dynamic perception and understanding of public transportation.

We are certain that the same dynamics we see in the United States are present in other countries, so when defending the need for public fixed guideway transit projects such as monorail systems, we are well advised to keep these thoughts in mind.

On behalf of the Executive Council,
Carlos Banchik

IMA Announces Monorailex 2017
Leadership of Beijing Jiatong University and IMA, November 2016
The International Monorail Association Executive Council approved plans to host Monorailex 2017, the annual monorail industry conference, in China. The event will be organized by Beijing Jiaotong University (BJU), China Monorail Transportation Development Research Center (CMTDRC) and ourselves. Professor Eryu Zhu has been named Vice President for the event.
The event will consist of a conference and exhibition hosted in Beijing by BJU and an optional Technical Visits Package where participants will travel to other cities to tour monorail production facilities, the operating Chongqing monorail, and ongoing projects. Participants will be able to network with industry leaders and supporters and share information on a variety of platforms.
We envision this to be our best attended Monorailex to date. Thanks to BJU, translators for non-Chinese speakers will be provided.
A call for papers for Monorailex 2017 will be coming soon. 
Monorail News

North America:

South America:
Monorailex 2017
Click to Join IMA or Update Your Membership
Executive Council
Carlos Banchik, President, USA
Peter Keller, Vice President, Switzerland
Peter Wittwer, Treasurer, Switzerland
Peter Timan, Member, Canada
A.K. Das, Member, India
Patrick Sweet, Director of Marketing & Social Outreach, Canada

For more information:


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