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Happy 50th Birthday, Los Angeles Monorail Proposal

monorail.jpg
Photo accompanies the Preliminary Report on Financial Feasibility of a Goodell Monorail Passenger System between Los Angeles International Airport and the Wilshire-Downtown areas/Metro Transportation Library and Archive via Flickr
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Have you ever wondered if there could be a way to travel to LAX that not only sped up your journey, but was also futuristic and awesome?

Well, once upon a time, an idea for just such a method of transport was bandied about: on September 27, 1961 -- exactly 50 years ago today -- transportation consultant Arthur C. Jenkins completed and filed a proposal for a Los Angeles monorail.

According to Metro's website, Jenkins' report suggested that a rail be constructed between the airport and the downtown area. The light car would zip about high over the heads of drivers, with a total commute time of 15-18 minutes.

A large part of the reason for considering a monorail was that it would divert passengers from driving or taking buses, thereby easing traffic, which had already become a major concern:

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Vehicular traffic congestion at the concentration points and on the streets and freeways in the vicinity of metropolitan area airports has grown to such proportions as to clog the entrances, approaches and parking lots... Despite past reluctance of the airline industry and airport management to consider ground transportation as an integral part of airline travel, the time has arrived when the interrelationship of the two must be recognized, and it is imperative that steps be taken to break the bottleneck through acceptance of some modern mode of transportation that will conveniently, comfortably and speedily bring passengers to the airports when beginning an airline tripe, and take them away when the trip has been completed, completely free of the interference of street level traffic.

I'm glad we've learned so much since then.

Anyway, another part of the rail's appeal, according to the report, was that it extended the rider's magical experience of air travel rather than bringing them back down to the dull realities of life on the ground:

Except for the attractive downtown ticket offices, the modernistic and futuristic appeal of the airline passenger industry is in effect isolated behind the entrance gates of the airports. Outside those gates, the airline passenger descends from the fantasy of his lofty luxury into the realities of the perpetual battle of street traffic congestion. He is at the mercy of the automobile.

Jenkins estimated that 3,387,000 passengers would ride the rial in 1965, bringing in a total revenue that year of $4,338,000.