Monorail vs light rail debate in Australian press


A couple of letters have been sent to the Australian press touting the relative merits of light rail over monorail systems.

Another letter:

The Editor
Gold Coast Sun

Dear Sir

Michelle Armstrong’s interesting letter raises some valid points but ignores some very important ones. Cost is perhaps the most important – it is a general rule of thumb that the cost of an elevated railway – whether duorail or monorail, is about four times that of a corresponding surface railway. Nobody had the money for a monorail 20 years ago, and Queensland and Gold Coast City certainly do not have a spare $4000 million dollars, which is roughly what a monorail to replace the present light rail project would cost. Seattle voted for a monorail – but when the cost became apparent, the voters cancelled the project and Seattle went ahead with its light metro. Light rail is certainly not a “scandalous waste of money”.

When light rail systems have been built, the general view is “this is lovely, we should have had it earlier” and this sort of comment often comes from those who had most vehemently opposed it.

A monorail, other than the Von Roll toy-type monorails, requires massive infrastructure. Look at The Monorail Society’s photos of Japanese monorails in Osaka, Kitakyushu and Tama, and try to visualise fitting in those massive columns in Surfers. They would close at least one lane of traffic, if not two, and remove much of the ‘air view’. It is not surprising that the Sydney monorail is to be torn down.

Yes, the current Gold Coast public transport system is a joke – that is why the light rail is being built from Helensvale to Gold Coast Airport in time for the Commonwealth Games. Note, the GC University Hospital is just a temporary terminus for phase 1 of the project.

Dudley Horscroft

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Anil, are you aware the new Penang transport plan is being exhibited in the next few days? Time and place at Final Draft Penang Transport Masterplan Friday, 13 April 2012 08:51 Public Consultation Programme Public Displays: Penang Island 3rd Floor Foyer Area Mon-Friday 16 to 20 April, 2012 9.00AM to 5.00PM Komtar, Pulau Pinang Mon-Friday 23 to 27 April, 2012 9.00AM to 5.00PM Sunshine Farlim Mall Saturday 21 April 2012 10.00AM to 5.00PM Gurney Mall Saturday 28 April 2012 10.00AM to 5.00PM Penang Mainland Ground Floor Foyer Area MPSP Offices Mon-Friday 16 to 20 April,2012 9.00AM to 5.00PM Mon-Friday… Read more »


Again , the debate failed to bring in new transport factors. On load and emission problem, infrastructure, etc , today bus and light rails cannot beat electric bicycle with 40~50 km cruise distance battery. Yes, a well build one will cost rm 3k to 4k , but will stand the wear and tear test long before a kapcai broke down many times.
Bus and train will waste energy when run on empty load.

ong eu soon

Whether it is monorail,LRT or tram, they all lack the feasibility of bus. What make you think monorail, LRT or tram is suitable for Penang island? The funding itself is something we can’t afford without the help of the federal. If you can’t make profit out of existing road system infrastructure, you want to tell me that you are capable of making huge profit serving limited numbers of commuters with exorbitant investment? That is how all our politicians and lately NGOs become stupid!


One does not often make money out of public transport. They are supposed to be a service which runs frequently and regular at a closer interval say about 15mins apart. They will make money during peak hours along those with high density area and start to get less and even lose money in the afternoon and night when there are less travellers. In order to reduce congestion, many city councils and state governments are subsidising public transport. Even in Bangkok, one can travel in a non-A/C bus for less than 1 ringgit and many cities in Aust are giving free… Read more »

Ric Francis

Kevin, I agree with your thoughts could be in parts of island but not in old Georgetown Trams only To Airport LRT would be very good. with modern LRT no overhead wiring would be required Underground Rail is very expensive

Ric Francis

Kevin, I suggest you look at some European countries roads are a lot narrow compared to Penang. The Trend in the world is LRT and trams
Forget Mono rail As I have said before they are not people friendly the old and disable find it hard to get access and when they do break down as have happened in Malaysia they become a nightmare to get people down of them.


Right Ric, I’m not supporting the monorail. I agree it is the worst form of rail transport and does not give value for money. I’m supporting an underground MRT similar to the one in Singapore. It has been tried tested and proven to work well and can transport way larger masses than trams or the LRT. Once put it place it can potentially serve for decades even taking into account the population growth of Malaysia. The MRT in sg, is fully disabled friendly from the stations to the trains to the toilets and right up to the streets. Sometimes even… Read more »


I think you still fail to grasp the message of this,post . If you don’t have the capacity and money to maintain the infrastructure, don’t try to be smart and borrow tons of money to build it. If you want a real life thesis , just check the … up rail transit system in klang valley. The system is sitting on billions of subsidies to keep it running . t is more than just wrong projection, but because nobody account for the money to build it, and served the loan . Singapore and hongkong success story can never beat a… Read more »


Anil, I know you have always been a proponent for the re-introduction of trams in Penang. While trams are nice on the eyes, environment friendly and relatively cheap, we have to bear in mind that Penang is now not what it used to be. I would also be love to see trams again in Penang but reality makes it impractical. First of all, in many parts on the island particularly george town, roads are extremely narrow with some as bad as one lane per direction. It would be rather impossible to implement a tram system on such roads unless they… Read more »

Ric Francis

K.Gerakan you want to get your hand out of the clouds, There is no common saying that would quote your saying to Light Rail and Momo rail, More correct is Chalk and Cheese.. I could say more but I do not use bad taste on this site.
Ric 50 years of Railway engineering EXPERIENCE

Gerakan K

Kopi O vs Teh O ???


Of course PR when comes to BN or PR.

Gerakan K

Pepsi vs Coca-Cola ???