The Washington Institute Foundation

held a half-day Conference on

The Monorail in Seattle:

Finding the Money &
the Right Technologies

Wednesday, March 4, 1998

Cosponsored by:

The Monorail Initiative that was passed last November by Seattle voters raised questions about the possibilities for innovative technologies and private financing. On March 4, 1998 at Seattle Center, over 150 participants learned from people who actually build monorails and arrange private sector financing with the kind of techniques described in a Federal Transit Administration Innovative Financing Handbook.

Per the Conference title, we examined two main themes:

Go here for the background paper issued by Washington Institute Foundation.

Go here for the press coverage from the Seattle Times.

Go here for the press coverage from the Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce. [No longer available.]


8:00-8:30 Registration

8:30-8:50 Introductions

Welcome from Richard Derham, President, Washington Institute Foundation

John Niles, Editor, Public Interest Transit Forum and Master of Ceremonies

Welcome from  Nick Licata, Councilman, City of Seattle

8:50-10:15 Finding the Right Technologies - A common doubt raised about the monorail is technical - isn't monorail technology unproven and underdeveloped? What are the available newer technologies that would work better than those incorporated in the existing Seattle Monorail? How do the new monorail technologies compare with the light rail technologies that are the first choice of the Regional Transit Authority for new mass transit construction in Seattle?

8:50-9:10 Technology Overview: Bill Eager, President of TDA, Inc.; he has evaluated an extension of the Seattle Monorail to the Seattle Commons project neighborhood.

Panel moderator: Seattle City Councilman Nick Licata

Panel: Representatives from monorail-building companies from around the world:

9:10-9:25 Hitachi, Ltd.-- Built urban monorails now carrying passengers in Japan
Hideo Inoue, Department Manager of International Sales and others

9:25-9:40 HSST Development Corporation -- Demonstrated a monorail that rides on magnetic levitation
Junro Kato, General Manager / Research and Development/Engineering Division

9:40-9:55 Bombardier Transit Corporation -- Built the Disney World monorail
Gary Hallman, Director of Marketing and Sales

9:55-10:30 Questions and Discussion

10:30-10:45 Break

10:45-11:55 Finding the Money - A few of the larger transportation systems companies are capable of building entire transit systems as "turnkey" operations - that is, they design, construct, and finally contract with a municipality to operate the system once it is completed. This part of the conference explored the experiences, both good and bad, these companies have had in developing monorail and other similar transit systems. Some of the issues discussed included:

* What has been the experience elsewhere?

* What are the efficiencies and cost savings of private vs. public operations?

* What forms of farebox or other public subsidies have been employed elsewhere to facilitate private operation of transit systems?

* What are the public sector responsibilities for design, site selection and acquisition, zoning, etc.?

* What are the terms on which organizations have mobilized private investment in designing and constructing transit systems?

10:45 -11:00 Panel moderator and introductory speaker: Neil Peterson, President, Transportation Solutions, former Executive Director of Los Angeles County Transportation Commission and before that, Seattle Metro.

11:00 - 11:15 Helen Knoll, Regional Administrator, Federal Transit Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation.

11:15 -11:30 Ethos Group -- Offers alternative funding programs for projects that will make a positive impact on the community, environment, economy, and culture.
Sean Luckman, Vice President.

11:30 -11:45 Lea & Elliott -- Plans innovative financing for transit worldwide
Harley Moore, Principal.

Gary Hallman, Bombardier Transit, answered questions as part of the panel.

11:45 -11:55 Questions and Discussion

11:55-12:20 Reactions from three conference sponsors: King County Councilman Rob McKenna, Seattle City Councilman Nick Licata, and Seattle Elevated Transit Board Member Neil Heiman.

12:20-12:30 Reaction Dick Nelson, Principal, Integrated Transportation Research; author of transit cost-effectiveness studies.

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