Monorail!

Who's winning, who's losing, and why.
Nov. 1 2002 1:28 PM

The Romance of the Monorail

The mass transit technology of Tomorrowland finally reaches today.

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As crazy as it may sound, that fun factor counts for something—a lot, in fact. The goal of mass transit is to convince people to abandon their cars, which feature such enticing accessories as CD players and elbow room. Light rails are too buslike to impress most commuters, too squished and close to the ground. Monorails, by contrast, strike a chord with travelers. There's something about the sleek designs, the pillowy rides, and the panoramic views that just enchants. Monorails have their own fan club, which claims more than 2,500 members who swap monorail toys and trinkets. Modern light rail can claim no such devoted fan base.

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So, maybe the technology isn't quite as lampoon-worthy as The Simpsons would have us believe. Forget about Disneyland, the World's Fairs, and remember that snappy number from "Marge vs. the Monorail": "Is there a chance the track could bend?/ Not on your life, my Hindu friend."

Brendan I. Koerner is a contributing editor at Wired and the author of The Skies Belong to Us.