The original Disneyland Monorail stopped at the Disneyland Hotel station in 1963. (Photo by Robert J. Boser/EditorASC, Photo used under Creative Commons license.)
The original Disneyland Monorail stopped at the Disneyland Hotel station in 1963. (Photo by Robert J. Boser/EditorASC, Photo used under Creative Commons license.)

A monorail is a solution to Sandy Springs’ traffic woes, the city’s Planning Commission chair said at a recent meeting—and a city official replied that the idea is now under review.

“If Disney can move a hundred thousand people a day, we can do it, and compared to MARTA, the costs are marginal,” said commission chair Lee Duncan at the group’s Nov. 19 meeting, during a wide-ranging discussion about urban planning.

Duncan was referring to a famed elevated monorail built as a futuristic mass transit at California’s Disneyland in the 1950s. His Sandy Springs version would run from the forthcoming City Springs redevelopment to MARTA stations and loop through Perimeter Center.

“I know you guys look at me and say, ‘Duncan, you’re crazy,’” Duncan said, but insisted that “implementation of a monorail” deserves a thorough study to “kill it or provide some context to move forward.”

Assistant City Manager Jim Tolbert indicated that Duncan previously raised the idea in internal meetings with staff. And in fact, Tolbert said, he gave the monorail idea to a consultant team developing the city’s new land-use plan to “seriously review it.”

However, Tolbert gave hints that the monorail will prove infeasible—such as suggesting that Duncan pay for half its cost.

“We’ll name it after him if it works,” Tolbert said.

Monorails—trains that run on a single, usually elevated, track—are now a popular feature at Disney theme parks and are used as public transit in several global cities. However, they also have become a symbol of government boondoggles through a famed episode of the TV comedy “The Simpsons,” where a con man sells a used monorail to an attention-hungry city.

The Georgia Department of Transportation’s “revive285” program to improve transit along the top end Perimeter briefly considered a monorail among many other alternatives several years ago. That slow-moving planning process is now focused on buses and ground-level light rail as possibilities.

John Ruch is an Atlanta-based journalist. Previously, he was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.

7 replies on “Disney Springs? Planning chair wants a Sandy Springs monorail”

  1. They should seriously think about this as a solution. I don’t think that it’s such a crazy idea, and I think after time it would certainly catch on – especially from the MARTA Station along Abernathy to the new HQ’s.

    I also think linking the new City Springs Development to the MARTA station using this means should also be seriously considered.

    It’s nice to know that there are some forward thinkers here -Invest for the future!

  2. While this may be a solution to get from “Downtown” Sandy Springs to the Perimeter Area, the real congestion in Sandy Springs comes from people traveling through to get from Atlanta to Cobb County or Northern Fulton County. The gridlock at rush hours is almost all through traffic.

  3. Las Vegas Has A automated Monorail that has Carried over 60 Million People , With a !00% Safety Record in 10 Year,s of Service, no Light Rail System can Match that,And Monorail.s Do not ever get stuck in Traffic..Plus no driver needed…Keith

  4. It’s in the works. The system is called HighRoad, and the plan is to substitute it for the MARTA heavy rail line to North Fulton that no one can afford, even with the Federal money and the proposed 1/2 cent MARTA sales tax. HighRoad does the job better, costs much less, and includes an 8-mile Perimeter-Sandy Springs loop that connects the businesses and hospitals. Call MARTA or your local legislator.

    Bill Owen

  5. It never fails to amaze me that Atlanta area local leaders always shoot down innovative ideas when it comes to our transportation issues and woes. But kudos to Lee Duncan for his proposal and thinking outside the typical BRT (bus rapid transit) and “build more lanes” box. The idea is to get prople OFF the roads. Buses, like any other rubber tired vehicle, GREATLY contribute to the paved surface congestion. And as such, they can and do get stuck in accidents and the daily maddening gridlock. Are the few riders that choose bus transportation better off in those scenarios? They are not! Perhaps their only advantage is not being the driver having to navigate through the congestion. But frankly, buses simply have no special appeal to commuters searching for alternative transportation modes. Jim Tolbert should be thrown under his beloved buses for his sarcasm and unwillingness to give thoughtful consideration to this unique idea. It’s his kind of thinking that ALWAYS stifels any real and fundamental change towards improving traffic congestion. Shame on him!

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