With one hundred percent of contact between monorail vehicles and their guide way rails taking place by means of radial tires, monorail systems and equipment are characteristically low maintenance, high reliability technology. All load transfer, acceleration, braking, guidance and active suspension systems engage the concrete or steel guideway rails through radial tires of various sizes, in horizontal or vertical running positions. Operating in the refined technology of monorail vehicles, on their smooth and durable rails, most of the radial tires can be expected to run for 100,000 miles before replacement.
Most monorail vehicles are propelled by 600- to 750-volt on board electrical motors, with power supplied through electrodes attached to the side of all guideway rails. Relatively simple contactors on monorail vehicles transfer power to on board electric motors and batteries, which operate all aspects of the vehicles and trains. The most advanced of monorail designs generate all electricity required for full operation on board the monorail vehicles. Employing small internal combustion engines and solar panels to charge the batteries which power each vehicle, these monorails operate completely independent of outside power sources, and therefore do not require any electrical wiring or power supply to be installed or maintained on or along the guideway rails.
The weight, or mass of monorail vehicles is the most consistent and pervasive determinant of stress on their operating systems and component parts. Recent reductions in vehicle weights to roughly a one to one ratio with passenger loads greatly reduce ware and stress on operating systems, with significant reduction in related maintenance and replacement of equipment. Reduction of vehicle weight to between one-half and one-twentieth the weights of other mass transportation rail vehicles has very significant implications for maintenance and durability of vehicles, as well as, the consumption of energy required for their operation. Composite vehicle materials employed in monorail vehicle body design are not feasible or suitable for construction of rolling stock for light rail, heavy rail or subway systems.