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Sunday, 3 March 2013

Saturday in Sydney


It’s Saturday, which means it must be Sydney. I had several meetings during the day, but managed to steal a couple of hours or so to look around the Opera House, take a ferry to Darling Harbour, ride a bus out to Bondi Beach and ride on the light rail line.

But of more significance, I had several rides on the Sydney monorail, which sadly is 4 months from closure.

Built in the late 1980s the decision to build a monorail (as opposed to light rail) as part of the Darling Harbour redevelopment was a hugely political one.



Monorails are expensive, visually intrusive, inflexible and inefficient at carrying large numbers of people. On the positive side they have a 'wow' factor but that is more at home at Walt Disney World than in urban cities. It does the usual tricks of riding above the congested streets and plunging into buildings with integral stations.

As it happens, Sydney monorail's poor passenger carrying capacity was never an issue: it was never a huge commercial success and its largely symbolic operation will end on 30 June to allow a convention centre development. All traces will be gone by 2014.

The monorail’s only other moment of fame is the 2010 collision between two sets and the evacuation of 100 passengers by crane. The remains of Set 1 can be seen at Prymont Street depot.

The cars carry "Farewell Sydney" and one of a few monorail systems in the world comes to an end. There are still many more - real examples of the futuristic transport solutions depicted in boys' magazines of the 1960s but which never really delivered.




For the record I have used "Sydney monorail" throughout. Its proper title is the "Metro Monorail" but didn't see it described as such anywhere!

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