The over one hundred year history of monorails’ world-wide safety record is superlative. Modern monorails maintain the highest safety statistics of any mode of transportation, having carried over two billion riders without a single passenger fatality, on a wide variety of systems, in several parts of the world. Collisions and all other forms of contact with other vehicles, structures and apparatus, as well as pedestrians, are virtually impossible. With monorail guide beams structures and all related equipment confined exclusively to the monorail system and its passengers, no form of contact or interaction with anything outside the system occurs. A monorail cannot cross the path of, or collide with an automobile, truck, pedestrian or any form of train. A properly operated monorail system is protected from collisions with other monorail vehicles by automation and safety devices not available or applicable to rail systems.
Operating without the need for overhead electrical wiring or electrified third rails, the typical guide way-supported electrical power systems of monorails remain out of reach, and well above all activity settings and transportation facilities. Newly developed self-propelled, on board power-generating monorail designs eliminate all exposed electrodes and wiring. This development effectively removes any hazards presented by the 750-volt power electrodes and operating voltages of most other monorail systems. Relatively low operating voltages are not present in the monorail’s passenger environment, or exposed to other than trained maintenance personnel. These lower voltages pose significantly lower risk to maintenance and field repair personnel, and are generally confined to storage batteries, generators and operating motors.
After withstanding a destructive Japanese earthquake that rendered the city’s streets impassable, the Kobe monorail system was used for emergency relief operations. The resilience and strength of monorail guide way structures are generally attributed to the relatively light weight and low mass of their elevated rails. While no mass transit system can be considered impervious to all risk, the nearly one hundred percent passenger safety record of modern elevated monorail systems cannot be surpassed and has never been equaled by any other transportation mode, system or technology. A February 2011 fire in an electrical power substation located below a Tokyo monorail guide way, that stranded 1280 passengers for two hours between stations, exposed the vulnerability of monorail service disruption and safety to power failures in monorail equipment, or their electrical power grids.