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Master's Professional Reports Abstract

Monorail for Austin: A Cost-Benefit Analysis Comparing Inner-City Rail Options
Stern, Lonny Aaron.
REPORT 2004 ST456 Public Affairs Library.

Monorail is a technology that has been much overlooked since its first appearance at the turn of the twentieth century. Even as systems have been built in locations across the globe, it has captured little interest in the current transportation planning community because it is perceived to be twice as expensive as installing light rail technology. The focus of this paper is to analyze the costs and benefits, specific to Austin, of establishing a monorail system in comparison to a light rail system. This paper will acquaint the reader with the different modes of rail transit currently available to public transportation planners. Later, a history of rail transit in the United States and in Austin, Texas will be presented in order to illustrate the value of grade-separated rail systems in an inner-city context. Further, this paper will demonstrate that much of Austinís interest in pursuing light rail technology is the result of an outdated planning process that began in the 1970s, but does not adequately address the needs of the population as it enters the twenty-first century. Finally, this paper will analyze the cost and benefit differentials between the two technologies in an attempt to prove that the financing gap is not as large as it may appear.