Monorail as a solution to Auckland's traffic woes seems to have found renewed momentum. More than 17 people attended a monorail focus group meeting on Tuesday.
Chaz Anderson, the muscle as opposed to the brains behind the initiative, said many more would have attended but they were probably caught in traffic. He went on to suggest that the fact that so few people made it to his meeting was a clear indication just how necessary the system was.
Monorail has been suggested as a solution numerous times in the past but it has never really had the traction of a conventional rail network. Anderson said he believed all that was about to change because circumstances had made the next six months an opportune time to go mono.
Anderson said he was about to secure a contact with Disneyland in Los Angeles, which has indicated that the original monorail system installed in 1955 is for sale because of plans for an upgrade.
The old one could be bought for a fraction of its original cost but as it was custom-built for Disneyland it would have to remain in the same geographic configuration.
Over time this could be adjusted as new lines were added, much like adding tracks to a child's train set. The system was designed a little like Lego in the sense that you just added parts where you saw fit. Anderson said it was also easy to take monorails through buildings and over obstacles, making installation quick and cheap. He said that when the system was installed at Disneyland in 1955 it was designed to look like something from the year 2050, so in a sense the system would still be 50 years ahead of its time.
"This system is technically still new and it still has 50 years on the clock before it even begins to become outdated," Anderson said.
"That is the beauty of getting a system that has spent most of its working life in Tomorrowland as opposed to Frontierland or Adventureland."
The beauty of a monorail system is that usually they are automated, meaning they are always on time. Automated monorails take the human factor out of the equation, meaning they no longer have to rely on drivers.
The Disney system was designed to have a robotic character appear to be driving the train. Unfortunately these realistic-looking characters - such as Goofy and Captain Hook - would have to be removed for copyright reasons here, but the wiring would still be there to enable us to install our own robotic city characters.
Anderson suggested having a competition in which the public could vote for who they would like to see driving. Research suggested that front-runners would be Auckland's most popular characters and high achievers, such as Sally Ridge, reality TV queen Julie Christie and the Lion Man.
Surprisingly, not everybody is in favour of a monorail system. Nez Dwyer heads up the group NOMONONONO, which is an abbreviation of No Mono, No, No.
They believe that the benefits appear to be too good to be true so there must be something wrong with it and that it is safer to keep throwing good money at roads, and twin-rack systems that head in straight lines to nowhere in particular. Many on the Auckland Council agree.
"Better the devil you know than the one you don't," said a spokesperson for Len Brown's Let's get Auckland Moving subcommittee.
I was going to contact Brown for his official stance on the monorail initiative, but I was a day over deadline so I didn't really have time.