As an increasing percentage of the nation’s passenger rail systems are developed or converted to electrical power, the costs of both electricity and fuel are likely to escalate, while dependence on increasingly burdened electrical grids, power generation facilities and fuel distribution systems are likely to add volatility to the rail industry and its supporting supply and manufacturing networks.
The price of gas, generally expected to force increasing numbers of drivers onto commuter and passenger trains, may not lead to a large scale switch from auto to train use as the primary means of access and movement in urban environments. Historic increases in fuel costs have caused limited and temporary shifts from auto use to mass transportation, but rising fuel costs tend to be absorbed or compensated for in the driving and vehicle purchasing habits of commuters and drivers, resulting in minimal net shifting to transit over time. As a vital component of transportation system sustainability, the availability and cost of energy and fuel will continue to support or limit the cost effectiveness of mass transportation services.
The most far reaching potential impacts of monorails’ energy profile derive from their status as the most efficient users of fuel and electrical power among all ground transportation vehicles and systems, while projecting the world’s lightest transportation carbon footprint throughout their manufacturing, construction and operational processes. These characteristics will permit an entire monorail industry to project its efficiency and inherent sustainability into every environment and urban setting it serves; while becoming a catalyst and leading influence on local communities and regional societies.