Can Monorails Solve Beijing’s Traffic Woes?

13:03 (UTC+08:00), 25 FEB 2014 | CHN BEIJING

It seems like the city is serious getting its traffic bugs ironed out as quickly as the jams are coming on. We’ve heard reports that the Western Suburban Line (to the Fragrant Hills) will come in the form of a tram, and that monorails are planned over Yuquan Road and the Eastern 4th Ring.

Yet again, the city’s planning authorities have shown its plain ignorance and blindness to the way things actually are when it comes to the Eastern 4th Ring’s new monorail.

Here’s what they’re missing out on:

  • First, the Eastern 4th Ring is home to places where there’ll be a lot of people living in. A monorail will have to run frequently as its capacity is probably going to be less than a “regular” main line metro train (especially the very wide trains of Shanghai’s Lines 1 and 2). We’re talking about the easternmost limits of the new east expansion area of Beijing’s sprawling CBD.
  • Second, the Eastern 4th Ring is home to both Chaoyang Park, Sihui, and the bit by Guangqu Road. Those parts are frequently jammed. Getting a mere monorail in the action will only do so much to help.
  • Most critically, the city hasn’t actually built a monorail line in actual operation, so it can’t really determine if it works for the Jing. It works great in Chongqing because of the hilly terrain, and because Chongqing’s smaller than the Jing, but this is no guarantee this is the magic metro elixir for the capital.

They might as well as start with the monorail on Yuquan Road in the western part of Beijing. Given how few metro lines run here, I’m willing to bet that the monorail there will be quite a big hit. Once they’ve done that, then they might want to see if the Eastern 4th Ring wants a monorail or a regular metro line.