There aren’t that many monorail systems in Europe. One of the few is in Moscow – and it is bleeding red ink, burdening taxpayers.
This is Vukan R Vuchic, a public transport expert, professor of the University of Pennsylvania, and former consultant for the US Department of Transportation on planning, design and operations of transport systems. Notice that he says the best tried and tested modes are buses, trams and metros.
In 2012, it was announced that the Moscow monorail would be dismantled after eight years of unprofitable operations. And last September, another report surfaced that said Moscow city officials were mulling the closure of part or all of the Moscow monorail and replacing it with other modes of transport, including trams.
Let’s take a look at some basic data for the Moscow monorail:
Built: Early 2000s.
Length: 5km (six stations) connecting two metro stations.
Cost: US$240m (RM977m) or RM195m/km (SRS Consortium says it can build monorail in Penang for RM170m/km, which is much higher than building tramways, which cost just RM40m-80m/km)
Ridership: 19,000 passengers per day, well short of their target of 50,000. (Is Penang coming up with a similar monorail ridership target that a great city like Moscow could not achieve?)
Fare: 50 rubles – not enough to cover operating costs of 200 rubles per passenger.
Loss: US$14.7m/year or RM60m/year. (Penang’s annual revenue is just over RM600m. How is it going to cover elevated LRT and monorail operating losses?)
So why does Penang want monorail?